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Adoption of New Sorghum Varieties in Mali Through a Participatory Approach

Although it is commonly accepted that farmers’ participation in the process of technology development can improve adoption rates, few studies have tested this relationship. We tested the role of farmers’ participation in the decision to adopt new sorghum varieties in the Sudan Savanna of Mali. We applied a conditional mixed-process method to data collected from 496 households in 58 villages the national agricultural research program (Institut d’Economie Rurale) and International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) worked through farmer organizations to test varieties in farmer-managed trials and implement seed production activities. We found that the intensity of participation positively affects adoption rates on household plots. Intensity of participation was measured as the ratio of participants in the household to the total number of participants in the village. Several plot manager and household characteristics influence adoption, including education and proximity of the plot manager with head of household, household assets, and labor availability. This study draws attention to the importance of farmers’ participation as a sustainable practice that can stimulate the adoption of new technology and, in doing so, enhance food security. Future research should explore the intrahousehold dynamics of farm input adoption, and the role of different forms of participation in the innovation process.

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