Does information network affect spread of new crops? A study on the spread of bitter gourd and sunflower cultivation among the farmers of a Sunderbans island in West Bengal, India
Adoption research for many years has considered individual farmer as the basis of analysis, whereas the effect of networks governing a farmer’s decision-making has received limited attention. Moreover, the spread of technology over different generation of adopters has not been addressed adequately. Hence, farmers’ position within the agricultural information networks and their adoption decision, may be studied to formulate some lower order propositions regarding the diffusion of agricultural innovations within information networks. The present study was conducted at Konkondighi Island in Sunderbans region, West Bengal, India, to study the spread of bitter gourd (Momordica Charantia L.) and sunflower (Helianthus annuus L.) cultivation among the farmers of selected villages. Case study method and focused group discussion were used to track this spread of new crop over different generation of cultivators. Data collected through survey method was analysed by sociometric technique and network score of the farmers in the agricultural information network was computed. The fractional ranking of network scores of farmers was compared with their relative earliness in starting bitter gourd and sunflower cultivation. It was observed that in the process of the spread of bitter gourd and sunflower cultivation, most of the farmers who had higher network scores were earlier adopters of bitter gourd and sunflower cultivation practices; but the opposite was not the same. This indicated relations between farmers’ positions in information networks and their adoption-decision regarding the adoption of new crops.
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