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Socio-economic reasons for the low adoption of water conservation technologies by smallholder farmers in southern Africa: a review of the literature

Natural resource degradation and water scarcity, which threaten the sustainability of smallholder farmers’ livelihoods in semi-arid developing areas, are a global concern. Although researchers have developed water-conservation technologies (WCTs), adoption rates by smallholder farmers have been low. This article compares the perspectives of researchers and smallholder farmers, highlights the discrepancies which explain the farmers’ low uptake of technologies and addresses the socio-economic factors affecting adoption. It argues that WCTs are diverse and applicable to different time and spatial scales and hence dependent upon context. These traits influence the dissemination and adoption of WCTs, and should not be ignored, from the early stage of technology development. It explains that adoption depends not only on individual farmers’ willingness but also on property rights to resources and collective community action. The article discusses the demand for WCTs, the role of the public sector and research and related biases, and makes recommendations for achieving more sustainable rural livelihoods. Recent experiences in South Africa show that encouraging farmers to participate in technology development, taking account of local indigenous knowledge and making sound institutional arrangements are some ways to foster better integration of technology and innovation.

TitleSocio-economic reasons for the low adoption of water conservation technologies by smallholder farmers in southern Africa: a review of the literature
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2006
AuthorsPerret, S.R., Stevens, J.B
Paginationp. 461-476 : 3 boxes, 2 fig.
Date Published2006-10-01
Keywordscommunity participation, indigenous knowledge, institutional aspects, literature reviews, sdiafr, sdipar, socioeconomic impact, sustainable livelihoods, technology, water conservation, water rights
Abstract

Natural resource degradation and water scarcity, which threaten the sustainability of smallholder farmers’ livelihoods in semi-arid developing areas, are a global concern. Although researchers have developed water-conservation technologies (WCTs), adoption rates by smallholder farmers have been low. This article compares the perspectives of researchers and smallholder farmers, highlights the discrepancies which explain the farmers’ low uptake of technologies and addresses the socio-economic factors affecting adoption. It argues that WCTs are diverse and applicable to different time and spatial scales and hence dependent upon context. These traits influence the dissemination and adoption of WCTs, and should not be ignored, from the early stage of technology development. It explains that adoption depends not only on individual farmers’ willingness but also on property rights to resources and collective community action. The article discusses the demand for WCTs, the role of the public sector and research and related biases, and makes recommendations for achieving more sustainable rural livelihoods. Recent experiences in South Africa show that encouraging farmers to participate in technology development, taking account of local indigenous knowledge and making sound institutional arrangements are some ways to foster better integration of technology and innovation.

Notes46 ref.
Custom 1276, 824

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