?Information Acquisition and Organic Land Conversion

?Information Acquisition and Organic Land Conversion


This study examines farmers' joint decisions to adopt organic farming practices and to seek technical information. Using a trivariate ordered probit model to analyze organic land conversion in Crete, Greece, it shows a correlation between information acquisition and organic land conversion. Different sources of farming information play complementary roles, while structural policies that increase farmer's allocative ability play an important role in encouraging organic land conversion. The study concludes that farmers' joint decisions to adopt organic farming practices are closely related to their own personal attributes, as well as their experience and knowledge about organic farming.

Social and environmental sustainability

Despite recent growth in demand for organic products, many farmers in developing countries still lack the financial and other resources needed to develop a profitable organic business. In order to be competitive, farmers need a sustainable land tenure, access to capital, and diversified social protections. Meanwhile, the EOA from the African Union offers farmers a premium market that is expanding rapidly. While there are a range of potential benefits to organic farming, farmers must carefully consider bottlenecks to the sustainability of OA.

The results from the SMART-Farm Tool showed that the social and environmental sustainability of organic farming practices is not as good as it could be, largely due to the fact that farmers lack reliable information on how to manage their farms. In addition, farmers lack skills and knowledge about organic farming. However, the differences in sustainability performance between five different farm types were minimal. Certified organic farms had significantly higher economic resilience and better environmental integrity, and their workers were better supported. Additionally, they tended to avoid using agrochemicals, which are widely used and are often harmful to the environment.

While conventional farming practices involve the use of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, organic farms use natural predators on their farmlands to help control pests and enhance biodiversity. Organic farming also promotes a higher level of soil nutrient content, which contributes to a greater depth of the food web and more biomass. Ultimately, organic farming practices are more sustainable for society. The benefits are worth the additional investment.

Years of farming

Organic farming practices include restricting the use of synthetic pesticides and fertilisers. Instead, farmers use compost, manure, and other organic materials to enrich the soil. Organic farming uses a systematic recordkeeping system to track products from the field to the point of sale. Farmers also use cover crops to reduce soil erosion and provide essential nutrients. Organic farming also includes crop rotation and crop diversity, which increase soil fertility and reduce the need for synthetic fertilizers.

Organic farmers also practice soil preparation before main crop sowing. The majority of farmers use a combination machine with a rotary harrow or rolling machine. Direct-seeders are less popular than rotary harrows and combined machines. Organic farmers use a variety of crop inputs to minimize the risk of chemical and economic problems. Organic farmers also require a wider range of crop varieties. Organic farmers can't use growth hormones.

Farmers who use organic farming methods are more likely to sell to consumers. More than twice as many organic farms sold crops and livestock products in 2014 than did conventional farms. Organic farmers also reported that they engaged in nontraditional markets, such as community-supported agriculture (CSA), and sold their products directly to consumers. As a result, they could feed an even larger population without adding more land to their farms. But a key question remains: how much better are organic farming practices? And will they continue to attract more organic farmers?

Reliance on outside experts

Many farmers consider conversion to organic farming a simple process of regulations codified in a set of procedures. In reality, organic farming is a complex process that involves learning from other farmers and the network of experts that exists within the farmer's community. A study conducted by Lockeretz et al. shows that personal values, which develop from a farmer's professional path, play an important role in the adoption of organic farming practices. The results from the study contribute to this participatory research approach.

Although the reliance on external experts is common among market-oriented organic farmers, it may be a significant hindrance for many smaller farms. Although the relative success of marketing firms and NGOs in the organic sector shows that these investments do not lead to significant growth in the farmer's production, the lack of technical support is the biggest obstacle for small farmers. The second-most-important requirement was lack of access to information on market opportunities. Other critical requirements include lack of financing, lower cost of certification, and assistance in developing quality management and internal control systems.

Farmers who have mastered organic methods often become more successful in the long run. But the adoption process can be lengthy, especially for poorer farmers. For these farmers, support and assistance in conversion from conventional farming to organics is necessary to overcome these difficulties. The process requires time and effort, and knowledgeable extension services are essential. Knowledgeable farmers can avoid these challenges by focusing on local benefits, reducing the risks associated with organic farming, and developing a sustainable business model.

Age of household head

The age of the household head is a significant factor in the adoption of many sustainable farming practices in Ethiopia and Kenya. These practices include minimum tillage, cut-off drains, multipurpose trees, and soil/stone bunds. Although the age of the household head has some positive impacts, others are less favorable. These practices require less labor to install and maintain than other agricultural practices. This research has several implications for farmers and land managers.

The findings of the study could be used to target different kinds of organic-based soil fertility technologies for different types of smallholder farmers. In Murang'a and Tharaka-Nithi, for example, the most common practice was the use of manure in conjunction with fertilizer. The adoption rate for FYM was 42 percent and for mulching, 6%. Household size and gender of the household head also had an influence on the adoption rate of organic-based farming technologies. Age of household head was also a factor in the adoption of organic farming practices. The average age of a household head was 53 years; 76% of farmers were male and 70% were full-time farmers.

Educational status was also a significant factor in the adoption of organic farming practices. While the study found no difference between men and women, it did find a strong correlation between age and education. In Benin, the level of education of the household head was positively associated with the adoption of organic farming practices. This effect may be due to differences in the commodities and coverage of the country. In Benin, for example, the level of education is relatively low in rural areas, and educated people in cotton production areas are largely involved in the management of conventional cotton producers' cooperatives. They are also relatively well-off and may be unwilling to sacrifice social prestige and privileges for an organic farming practice.

Marital status of household head

Compared to conventional farming, organic agriculture increases the economic independence of women. Organic farming involves women owning separate cotton farms. By contrast, conventional farming requires the male household head to tend the farm. For this reason, women are more likely to be involved in organic farming. However, women should be aware that organic farming requires some financial investment. This article will discuss some of the key aspects of organic farming for women.

A number of factors can significantly limit the adoption of organic farming practices. Inability to obtain labour for organic farming is a significant constraint. Women are more likely to be involved in organic farming practices, and their social capacity to mobilize reciprocal labour is stronger than men's. Women also tend to be more likely to adopt these practices at the early stages of the development of this technology. But despite the benefits of organic farming, women face many barriers to adoption.

Education

Although sales of organic food have risen sharply, only one percent of U.S. farms are certified organic. According to the USDA's 2007 Agricultural Resource Management Survey, farmers with bachelor's degrees are more likely to adopt organic farming practices than their counterparts with no farming education. Further, higher education is linked to the adoption of organic farming practices, but this correlation is not as strong as it was in the previous decade.

The association between age and adoption of organic technology has been studied in several studies. In a review of 35 case studies, Ragasa (2012) found that women's adoption of organic technology was slower than that of men. He attributed the difference in adoption rates to different access to services and inputs. In a similar vein, Tovignan and Nuppenau (2004) studied 200 cotton farmers in Benin and found that women's adoption of organic technology was slower than men's. Further, Burton, Rigby, and Young (2003) found a similar relationship between age and adoption of organic technology.

Despite the lack of knowledge about organics among non-organic farmers, some farmers expressed interest in adopting organic practices. Many farmers surveyed indicated that they would like to become certified organic but needed information on cost, marketing, and inputs. Although nearly half of respondents had some knowledge about organics, many did not have any experience with certified organic practices. This is indicative of a need for additional outreach and education efforts. Overall, respondents rated organic produce as healthier and preferring it to non-organic products.

Public incentives

The USDA's SFI program supports the adoption of organic farming practices. It is a small program that encourages farmers to transition to organic farming. Most states have used up the limited amount of funding allocated under this program. But it has the potential to help farmers transition to organic agriculture and achieve higher soil quality. Organic farming is also in line with existing conservation incentive programs, such as EQIP. The USDA should support organic producers by making their practices recognized in the full suite of conservation programs. And Congress should expand CSP organic bundles to transitioning farmers. Transition bundles will provide technical assistance and help offset the financial costs of transitioning to organic farming.

Farmers' willingness to adopt sustainable agricultural practices depends on several factors, including income, education, risk aversion, and access to information. To encourage adoption, incentive programmes should consider these factors and tailor incentive programs to match farmers' needs. Furthermore, instruments should be easily understandable. Farmers often avoid incentives that require extensive legal regulations or complex instruments. These make them difficult to understand and are costly to adopt. It is important to remember that adoption of sustainable agricultural practices is not an absolute decision, and farmers differ in their economic, environmental, and social circumstances.

References:
1) Genius, M., Pantzios, C. J., & Tzouvelekas, V. (2006). Information acquisition and adoption of organic farming practices. Journal of Agricultural and Resource economics, 93-113.
2) Ma, W., Ma, C., Su, Y., & Nie, Z. (2017). Organic farming: does acquisition of the farming information influence Chinese apple farmers’ willingness to adopt?. 
China Agricultural Economic Review.

By Fadime