Ecofarm most popular among those who have least land
A recent study shows that farmers in Mali with smaller landholdings have higher adoption rates for Ecofarm technologies like micro-fertilizer use and seed-priming.
A field study from the Norwegian University of Life Sciences, conducted in three different regions in Mali, found out that farmers with smaller landholdings are more likely to adopt Ecofarm technologies than those with larger ones. Other socio-economic factors that positively influence adoption are the number of household members and the distance to the nearest market to access fertilizer and buy and sell farming products.
For the study a cross-sectional survey of 120 selected household heads was conducted in the regions of Mopti, Ségou and Sikasso. Farmer preferences concerning the adoption of the most common technologies that were introduced by the DCG's Ecofarm project were established by enquiring about socio-economic factors that may influence the decision to adopt. In addition, a cost-benefit analysis was conducted to find out how revenues from the use of new/improved technologies affect adoption behavior. The study concentrated mainly on the use of micro-fertilizer and seed-priming techniques as proposed by the Ecofarm project.
The finding that the adoption of the technique of application of micro-doses of fertilizer is more common among farmers with smaller landholdings is not in line with the assumption made by the researchers beforehand that farm size positively influences adoption. It indicates that farmers with larger landholdings cultivate larger portions of land in order to obtain the same outputs as the smaller farmers using micro-fertilizer. This means, that the farmers with smaller farming sizes that adopt Ecofarm technologies have higher net benefits than the ones with larger farms.
Another significant factor influencing adoption shown by the study is the household size, i.e. households that have more adult members contributing to farm work are more likely to have enough capacity to adopt new technologies. A third major finding indicates that market access plays an important role for adoption. The cross-regional study makes it possible to see that access to buying inputs like fertilizer and selling farming outputs differs between the three study regions, which is correlated to varying adoption rates of Ecofarm technologies. For instance, the average quantity of fertilizer used by farmers interviewed in the Ségou region, who have a distance of more than 50 km to the nearest market, is almost three times lower than of those in the Koulikoro region, where the distance is quite small, with only five km.