Anil K. Gupta/Y. Sulochana eep-ii – 1983 models of technology generation & diffusion: a review

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The green revolution in south and South-East Asia shows costly errors made in efforts to improve productive resources by focussing exclusively on diffusion of technology. The course of development of technological innovations in agriculture is no exception to the general rule for production forces. Production forces are seldom neutral.

A comprehensive view of the nature of technological innovation requires a framework of eco-political economy (Yapa, 1979).
Ecological approach: (Model 4)

Ashby 1982

In the generation of new agricultural technology; the role of environmental specificity and biological processes provides a useful starting point. Biological technology is designed to facilitate the substitution of labour and or industrial inputs for land, i.e. “land saving” and increase in crop output per unit land area. This may occur through increased recycling of soil fertility by more labour-intensive conservation systems; through use of husbandry practices, management systems and inputs like chemical fertilisers and insecticides which permit an optimum yield response. The farmers adoption behaviour appears to be more or less innovative depending on the suitability of the technology for different types of farmer depending upon their ecological basis.
In crop production, the following advances have typically been involved:
Land and water resource development to provide a satisfactory environment for plant growth.

Modification of the environment by the addition of organic and inorganic sources of plant nutrients to the soil to stimulate plant growth and the use of biological and chemical means to protect plants from pests and diseases.

Selection and design of new biological efficient crop varieties specifically adopted to response

to these elements in the environment that are subject to man’s control.

Biological basis of agricultural technology is its most distinctive characteristic because of the way natural selection introduces the problems of genetic variability and dynamic instability to farming and thus agricultural production is mostly dominated by environment. Diversity of physical environment, in terms of geohydrology as well as climate is an öimportant factor in shaping production technologies at micro level.
The agricultural ecology has several implications for understanding farmers responses to technical change.
Both natural, physical parameters and the social organisation of resources in agriculture must be taken into account to define the constraints in a farming environment into which agricultural technology is introduced.

The location – specificity of agricultural technology must be evaluated. An important implication of the extreme diversity of locati – specific constraints to technology transfer is that it imposes limitation on the capacity of agricultural resources to evaluate new technologies under all possible conditions or to reliably deliver suitable technologies to farmers.

Development of Technology for Rainfed Crop Production (Amol Senanarong)
Major problem is low and unstable yields of all crops, especially rice, the under-utilization of land and low soil fertility. To be appropriate, the technology should require only low energy and low monetary inputs. It follows that experiment station research is rarely directly useful. Technology should not only state what should be done but also how it should be done with the limited resources available to the small farmers who constitute the majority. The first step is to accept the farmers’ systems and introduce simple innovations capable of giving visible increase in yield. It is not enough to list what the farmer has failed to do, one must understand the reasons behind the failure in order to introduce innovations.
It is implicit that researchers, extension personnel and practising farmers should work together in developing appropriate technologies. The most difficult thing is to find mechanisms to make this possible within the present institutional structures.
Farming systems research at the farm level Model-5
There are four successive research stage – Descriptive (diagnostic) design, testing and extension. The descriptive stage idenifies the constraints and flexibility in the current farming systems. This information is used to design based on interviews with farmers. By applying evaluation criteria derived from farmer interviews; these programmes are then assessed.
Farm household is central to the research process (Gotsch, 1977), this concept emphasises the important role that a farmer’s knowledge derived from experience (Swift, 1978) and traditional experimentation (Johnson 1972, Jodha et al., 1977, Vermeer, 1979) can play in improving his farming system. Moreover, the farmer’s involvement in the research process increases the possibility that improved systems will address farm level problems. Ultimately, a new system arises which combines the base of the system he already uses with the results of the research process (Harwood and Price, 1976). Thus, many small adjustments involves rather that complete changes in the system. Initially, the researcher manages field trials, later the farmer provides this input through farmer testing. And the value of the on-farm research can also be enhanced by involving extension personnel. A multi-disciplinary team would work on the interaction of the technical and human elements in an inter-disciplinary manner at the first three stages of the research process. There is recognition of the location specificity or heterogeneuity of the technical, exogenous and endogenous factors. In evaluating a farming system, researchers must understand the multi-utilization of resources and the rural household as a production and consumption unit, in order to ensure that evaluation criteria will be relevant to the rural household. The research process is recognized as dynamic and interactive and emphasise linkages between the farmer and research worker. In the FSR approach (1) a feedback mechanism for shaping priorities for basic and commodity research programmes, (2) various functions in the innovation-decision process; (3) the nature of the social system and (4) the extent of change agents’ promotion efforts in diffusing the innovation affect the rate of adoption of any new innovatio
Model-6: Farmer-back-to farmer approach: (Rhodes and Booth) (1982
Farmer back to farmer approach leads to a greater chance of success in the generation of appropriate agricultural technology. It can help in saving time and valuable research funds which are desperately needed resource
Applied research cannot begin in isolation on experimental stations or with a planning committee out of touch with farm conditions. It means obtaining information about the achieving an understanding of the farmers perception of the problem and finally to accept the farmer’s evaluation of the solution (Booth and Shaw 1981
Stage I: Diagnosis of farmers proble
Technologts should need to view the technology through the eyes of the farmer and recognize the importance of socio-cultural factors. In addition to formal or informal surveys, some types of preliminary on-farm trials may be conducted as a means of better understanding of the problem are anticipated.
Constructive conflict is a stage where disagreements between social and biological conditions over interpretation of the problem.
The purpose of diagnosis is to make a widest possible consensus between farmer, social scientists and technologist on the problem to be solved.
Stage II: Inter-disciplinary team research to identify and develop a

potential solution

The purpose of the linked on-station and farm-level team research is to arrive at a potential solution. Proposed solutions are rarely complete since farm problems are complex and inter-related and constantly changing.
The process of inter-change should continue to be on going throughout the design stage. Compromises, changes, reversal of defection or even termination of projects may be required.
Stage III: Testing and adaptation to make the proposed solution better fitted to farmers’needs
In most circumstances the testing and adaptation will occur first on experiment stations followed by on-farm trials. During on-farm testing undertaken by scientists in cooperation with the farmer the potential solution should be compared, if possible, to existing farming practices. This stage may require several recyclings to arrive at a technology ready for demonstration and independent evaluation by farmers.
Stage IV: Farmers evaluation
The final stage involves the actual evaluation and use of the technology by the farmer under his conditions, resources and management. It is crucial not only to determine acceptability but to understand how farmers continue to adapt and improve the technology. Such informal research by the farmers is crucial to the successful transfer of the technology (Biggs 1980).
Model – 7: The Training and Visit System (TVS)
Introduction of modern management techniques even on a modest scale has been considered to be the most difficult mission. Successful introduction of different management tools and techniques and appropriate organizational processes and structures in a package is one of the important contributions of the T&V system. The goal of the TVS is to increase agricultural productivity of small farmers by emphasizing low level technology and traditional methods. The basic formula is to increase production with little or no increase in cash inputs, thereby increasing farmer’s incomes. Benor acknowledges that extension alone cannot enable farmers to maximise their incomes; availability of physical inputs and a general policy framework giving farmers an incentive to produce are also critical. A schematic representation of these contributions is given in the figure (separately given).
“The T & V system makes deliberate efforts to obtain relevant technical information; debate its utility and applicability, break it down into manageable segments and proportions; simplify it to make it communicate effectively; and pass it on selectively. While information passes through a hierarchy, every unit in the sequence is provided with sufficient autonomy and self control to make it need based. This system has the potential of increasing the technical and persuasive capacity of both farmers and extension personnel”.
“Strictly speaking the T & V approach is not a contribution to the original concept of extension per se or a philosophy behind it; it only introduces changes, albeit innovative, in the administration of extension.
Consequences of Innovations
Consequences of innovations were defined as the change that occur within a social system as a result of adoption or rejection of an innovation (Rogers & Shoemaker, 1971, 319).
This definition is too restrictive; the reasons are (1) consequences as a process of social change flow on from diffusion. The change agency has a limited and-in-view if it is concerned with consequences of the innovation rather than consequences of the diffusion process. By definition, planned change requires the change agency interfere with the client system. This interaction will cause changes other than from the adoption-rejection of the innovation. Therefore, it is more accurate to seek a definition for the consequences of diffusion of innovations rather than consequences of innovations, (2) Consequences do not necessarily occur exclusively to those individuals, groups, or organizations that decide to adopt or reject an innovation. It is possible that some make the decision and the repercussions are felt by others who have not decided and by the social system as a whole. Hence, consequences are an outcome of the diffusion process having taken place, such that at least one person has participated in the innovation decision (Goss 1977).
A redifinition of consequences of the diffusion of innovation is “that any changes that occur to a social system or any member of it , as a result of diffusion of an innovation that achieves at least one adoption or rejection. The non-adopters are also susceptible to consequences to a greater or lesser degree”.
Dimensions of Consequences:
The level of consequences;

The distribution of consequences

In measuring the level, there is assessment of the absolute amount of the change in the aggregate value of consequences – for development programmes, these are typically figures of average production, average income, average education.
In measuring distribution, there is assessment of the frequencies or change in frequencies of system members along a continuance for a particular consequences. These are typically distribution of people by income groups, distribution of farms by production; distribution of people by income groups, distribution of farms by production; distribution of people by level of education.
One assumption of diffusion is that over the long run in equalities of distribution are reduced. Measurement of consequences along the distributional discussion will test the validity of this assumption.

Classification of consequences

Functional or dysfunctional: Functional consequences are desirable effects of an innovation in a social system; whereas dysfunctional consequences are undesirable effects.
Director consequences (primary) are those changes in a social system that occur in immediate response to an innovation; it has direct link to the independent variable, while an indirect (secondary) consequence resulting from the direct consequences, it is linked through two or more casual chains to the independent variable.
Manifest consequences are changes that are recognised and intended by the members of a social system; latent consequences are neither intended or recognised.
It is difficult to judge the desirability of consequences for any individual group; or organisation concerned. However, it is better to make a subjective judgement with awareness of possible bias than to believe that objective judgements can be achieved. On this basis and recognizing the methodological problems involved, the classification into desirable and undesirable consequences is needed for analysis of consequences.
Distinction between anticipated and unanticipated consequences is sociologically significant. Unanticipated consequences indicate the lack of understanding of the internal and external forces at work on the client system, and its relationship with the larger social system. Thus classification into anticipated and unanticipated consequences is also needed for analysis of consequences.
Rogers and Shoemaker (1971) studied the importance of consequences but restricted the analyses only to diffusion phase. The reasons for this bias were 1. Change agencies, often the sponsors of diffusion research, over emphasis adoption, assuming that the consequences of innovation decision will be necessarily positive, 2. Usually survey research methods are inappropriate for the investigation of innovation consequences, 3. Consequences are different to measure.
The implications of diffusion research are to explore the distributional dimension of consequences. The implications for diffusion practice are for the change agency to recognise that undesirable, unanticipated and indirect consequences will occur from its activities, and particularly on a distributional dimension. These should be included in the planning and evaluation of any technology.
Consequences of Green Revolution Technology
Green revolution technology refers to new seed and fertilizer inputs that are highly divisible and thus available to the small farmers.
Some analysts felt that positive contributions of the green revolution technology were diminished because of accompanying problems like soil erosion, costs of adoption package, increased storage, distribution and marketing costs and lower income, farmer’s lack of awareness of the new technology etc.
Green revolution technology resulted in a structural change in agriculture which did not permit sufficient employment and hastened farm to city migration.
According to Lole and Mellor “As compared to the smaller cultivators, the larger farmers can better afford the risks of innovation and they wield more political power over the developmental agencies which provide access to credit and crucial supplies such as fertilizers, seed and pesticides.”

Consequently while new technologies may increase production and thus income, these benefits may not automatically trickle down to the majority of those employed in agriculture.

Griffin suggests that Green Revolution technology is biased against the smaller producer unless land ownership is equally distributed amongst small farmers and all peasants have approximately equal access to fertiliser, water, technical knowledge and credit.
Present stage of the Green Revolution in Asia with three generalization was given by EM Rogers.
The rate of adoption of the high yielding varieties has been extremely rapid to date in the very early years of diffusion.

The preconditions for the rapid diffusion of the high yielding varieties in Asia are novel and not likely to be repeated, nor is the current rate of diffusion likely to continue to 100 percent adoption.

The undesirable consequences of the Green Revolution may outweigh its intended, desirable effects, and the resulting negative perception may slow further diffusion.
Work done by G. Parthasarathy and B.S. Prasad also showed that it is the larger farmer who make up the largest component of those adopting the new technology. Smaller farmers seems to face the greatest difficulties in getting fertilizers, credit, pesticides and transport services.
Role of risk in influencing consequences of technology
Crop improvement activities respond to and partly determine the consequences of environmental uncertainty.
Differential adoption rates may be due to
Credit constraint – working capital requirement associated with new technology and substantially higher.
2. The interaction between the uncertainty associated with the innovation and the prevalence of risk aversion among farmers, which is most frequently cited one.
Risk aversion is an endogenous factor; since new technology is more risky and provided that smaller farmers are more risk averse, it is argued that smaller farmers will be less inclined to adopt the innovation. Land distribution or farm size holding and risk aversion acts as a factor inhibiting diffusion of innovation among small farmers, traditional technology requires no specialized inputs and yield a given net return per acre with certainty. The new technology is characterized by superior average performance per acre if certain specialized inputs are applied and appropriate cultivation practices are observed; but it is associated with some degree of uncertainty and uncertainty may be that HYV is more susceptible to pests and diseases, and climatic variation. The dependence on timely availability of the specialized inputs is another element of uncertainty.
Robert Mason and Albert N. Haster reported that earlier adopters are more willing to assume the risk of innovation because they hold risk prefer attitudes; in other words, they are risk-takers. They also suggested that earlier adopters could actually risk averse, but have greater knowledge and achieve success in farming by innovating in order to reduce risks in agriculture. Risk takers do not use this strategy. The importance of risk attitude in the forced adoption of technologies is an area that needs urgent research attention. In agriculture, resistance to adoption under forced discontinuance of current technology is greatest among risk-averse producers who are familiar with less risky, less efficient and perhaps older technologies.
Policy alternatives to deal with undesirable consequences of risk aversion have been suggested as follows (Binswanger 1979).
Policies specific to agricultural risk.
A-1 Crop/credit insurance loan guarantees etc.

A-2 Relief and famine policies

A-3 Pure buffer stock or price stabilization schemes

A-4 Plant protection by groups of farmers

A-5 Floor protection

A-6 Breeding for crop yield stability

Policies which are not risk specific
B-1 Subsidization of inputs and or credit

B-2 Agril. Price support or income policy

B-3 Allocation of investment and research resources to regions

B-4 Reduction in back ground risk

irrigation investments

increase efficiency of markets (roads, market information, etc.)

improve access to information about technologies (extension-demonstration etc.

improve non-agricultural job opportunities

improve medical and other welfare policies
B-4 Legislation, regulation, institutional reform in areas such as credit and land tenancy

B-6 Land reforms and other income/wealth distribution.

Various models reviewed here reveal following major dimensions to be kept in view while explaining the context of generation or diffusion of any technology.
the context in which a technology evolves

social relations of production

factor endowment and change in their proportion on account of new technology (labour saving or land saving etc.)
Suitability of technology & characteristics of receiving environment
the eco-specificity

the income differences

Access of different classes of people to various institutions providing different essential inputs

The individual and collective pay-off from technological use

Cost of discontinuing earlier practice

Access to natural resources-land, water, fuel-wood etc.

We have separately discussed how mean-variance characteristics of any technology influencle the class of farmer who would ultimately find a particular technology useful. The review presented here brings tore the factors that influence the evaluation and dissemination of any technology in agriculture. As mentioned before, while there may be technologies which are scale neutral, there is seldom any technology which is resource neutral. The challenge, therefore, is not to influence the attitude of so called risk-averse peasant but, improve access of various classes of farmers to institution providing inputs, credit, information.
(It is the first rought draft. The editorial and typographical errors may please be ignored-Anil K. Gupta).


“The Technology of Rural Development” – World Bank Staff Working Paper No.295 Oct., 1978 p.1-19.

CH Hanumantha Rao (1975) “Technological Change and Distribution of Grains in Indian Agriculture”.

A. Boan (1964) “Technological Change and Economic Growth”, proceedings of CIC Conference 1964” p.19-23.

Keviw F. Goss (1977). “Consequences of Diffusion of Innovations”, Rural Sociology; Vol.44, No.4, p.754-769, 1979.

Robert A. Solo and E.M. Rogers (1972). “Inducing Technological Change for Economic Growth and Development” p.78-87.

Lakshman S. Yapa. “Ecopolitical Economy of Agricultural Innovation”.

Hebe M.C. Vesuri (1980). “Technological Change and Social Organization of Agricultural Production”, current Anthropology, Vol. 21, No.3, June, 1980, p.135-327.

Jacqueline A. Ashby. “Technology and Ecology: Implications for Innovation Research in Peasant Agriculture”.

Stephen D. Biggs and Forward J. Clay “Source of Innovation in Agricultural Technology”, World Development Vol.9, No.4, pp. 321-336, 1981.

Gershon Feder and Gorald T.O. Mara. “Farm size and Diffusion of Green Revolution Technology”, 1981.

Robert Mason and Albert N. Halter. “Risk Attitude and the Forced Discontinuance of Agricultural Practices Rural Sociology Vol.45, No.3, pp.435-447, 1980.

David W. Morman (1980). “The Farming Systems Approach: Relevancy for the Small Farmers, MSO Rural Development Paper” – Paper No.5, 1980.

Prakash M. Shingi (1982), “Management of Agricultural Extension”.

Hayami & Rutton (1971). “Agricultural Development: An International Perspective”, p.27-63.

Rogers and Shoemaker. “Communication of Innovations a Cross Cultural Approach”.

Hans P. Binswanger (1976). “Risk, Uncertainty and Agricultural Development”, p.384-395.

Proceedings of the International Symposium on Development and Transfer of Technology for Rainfed Agricultural and the SAT Farmer.

Reyal D. Colle. “Who moves the Farmer: Some Issues in Communication and Extension: A Series of Papers on World Food Issues, 1979.

Robert E. Rhodes and Sooth. “Farmer-back-to-Farmer: A Model for Generating Acceptable Agricultural Technology”, 1982.

  1. Richard Grabowski. “Implications of an Induced Innovation Model”. Economic Development and Cultural Change, Vol.127, No.4, July, 1979, p.723.

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