Alleviating poverty with new technology? : A field study of the implications of a new agriculture production methodin Zambia and the factors affecting its adoption

University essay from Linköpings universitet/Nationalekonomi och ekonomisk historiaLinköpings universitet; Linköpings universitet/Nationalekonomi och ekonomisk historiaLinköpings universitet

Abstract: New technology and new innovations have for long been considered as a spring for growth. Conservation farming (CF) is a new production method introduced in rural Zambia and previous research shows that it increases yields and improves soil fertility. Even though the method is proven more efficient than conventional agriculture, only approximately 10 % of Zambia’s farmers have adopted the method. The purpose of this study is to discuss the implications of the introduction of CF on the capabilities of farmers and on economic growth. Furthermore, the study aims to explore why CF, which is proven to be more economically efficient than the conventional method, is not adopted to a larger extent in Zambia. A qualitative study of 25 farmers, farming with either CF or conventional methods, was performed in the region of Mumbwa, Zambia. The results were divided depending on whether the farmers were using the new method or not. To analyze the selected material theories were chosen that regard economic growth and technological change, the adoption process of new innovations, incentive creation and the expansion of capabilities. The two groups showed differences in age, the size of their land, how many crops they grew and to what extent they were working for others or hiring labor. The conclusion from the small sample of farmers is that the farmers using CF had been able to expand their capabilities in different ways. They had food for all the year, the new method allowed them to plan their time better and it was more environmentally sustainable than the old method. The negative aspect of CF is that it is not compatible with the old method in terms of social norms. CF leads to a more efficient use of capital and labor and therefore it can increase the economic growth. In terms of a new innovation, CF seems to have a relative advantage over the old method but it must be spread to a larger group of farmers to reach a breakthrough. To create a higher adoption rate of the method the farmers’ perception must be taken into account.

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