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Are Mountain Farmers Slow to Adopt New Technologies? Factors Influencing Acceptance in Bhutan

Walter Roder
Mountain Research and Development
Vol. 24, No. 2 (May, 2004), pp. 114-118
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3674581
Page Count: 5
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Abstract

Bhutan, a mountainous country where 79% of the population depends on agriculture, has a relatively short history of government intervention in the agricultural sector. The first research and extension activities began only 4 decades ago. Developments over this period are generally seen as positive, although it is impossible to separate the influence of social change and the road network from the influence of activities carried out by the Ministry of Agriculture or by development agencies. Despite positive results, farmers are often seen as resistant to change or slow to adopt new technologies. Researchers and extensionists disappointed by low adoption rates often blame cultural barriers, lack of interest by farmers in economic betterment, or, in the worst case, lack of academic training among farmers. Mountain environments are inherently fragile, leaving farmers less room to experiment with risky innovations. Yet this patronizing approach is not limited to agents working with mountain farmers or subsistence agricultural systems. The present article describes 3 examples in which farmers have adopted new technologies at surprisingly fast rates, mainly for economic reasons: 1) potato production, 2) the use of draft animals for mechanized potato production, and 3) fodder pumpkin cultivation. The author's experience, supported by recent research findings and data from published and unpublished records, is used to describe the technologies, the rate of adoption, and factors affecting adoption. The analysis of potato development covers several decades, while the other examples are limited to periods of a few years.

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