Agricultural Mindsets Across Social Networks in Four African Countries

Tuesday, July 15, 2014: 11:30 AM
Room: Booth 61
Oral Presentation
Keith M. MOORE , Office of International Research, Education and Development, Virginia Polytechnic Institute , Blacksburg, VA
Matt FORNITO , Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, VA
Jessie GUNTER , Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, VA
Jennifer LAMB , Emory University
Dominic Ngosia SIKUKU , Moi University, Kenya
Dennis SHIBONJE , Manor House Agricultural Center, Kenya
Bernard BASHAASHA , Makerere University, Uganda
Smallholder agriculture is coming under increasing pressure to intensify production practices for food security.  Conservation agriculture (CA), involving the three principles of (1) minimum soil disturbance, (2) permanent vegetative cover, and (3) rotations or intercropping, has been identified as a sustainable way to do so.  However, indigenous knowledge is not sufficient to support a transition to this new production system; nor is simply the introduction of new agricultural production norms and practices by a transforming agent (extension or NGO). Many observers note that conservation agriculture requires a change of mind-set for smallholder innovation to occur (Hobbs, 2007; Wall, 2007).  Successful cases of CA development have also demonstrated the active engagement of a network of producers and their partners throughout the agricultural sector (Coughenour, 2003; Swenson and Moore, 2009).  The fundamental agricultural development question is how to bridge the gap between these new mindsets and those of the ‘risk averse’ small farmer that has informed indigenous knowledge for generations.  We contend that agricultural production networks form the basis for shared mindsets and the potential for mindset change among small farmers. This paper combines a standard attitudinal analysis of mindsets with findings from social network analysis (SNA) to explore network and mindset relationships within eight agricultural communities in Kenya, Uganda, Lesotho, and Mali. The questions to be addressed include: (1) how do agricultural production networks vary by region (2) how do network relationships affect shared mindsets and (3) how does an actor’s position and power within a network promote conservation agriculture perspectives?