Methodological and Technological Issues in Technology Transfer

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11.4.1 Adoption Barriers/Constraints

Generic farm-level adoption constraints.
For farm-level adoption, the barriers include small farm size, credit constraints, risk aversion, lack of access to information, lack of human capital, inappropriate transportation infrastructure, inadequate incentives associated with tenurial arrangements, and unreliable supplies of complementary inputs. Because strategies for new technologies are often imposed from the top down, implementation fails when local people are not consulted or are treated as labourers only, or when local research and extension staff are not sufficiently trained in the specific techniques. Consequently, positive measures to improve soil and water productivity, for example, both through individual and communal action, should receive higher priority for research, extension, and training in the future. Some agricultural measures should also form part of an integrated biotechnical approach that provides appropriate expertise and equipment, seeds of improved cultivars, plant nutrients, and pest management, with strong social and economic incentives.

Environmental externalities and technology adoption.
As in the discussion of biotechnology transfer above, cooperation can also be on a commercial basis. Private firms are springing up to do biotechnology for a fee. One commercial organisation, for example, might do molecular marker work on contract. The firm identifies marker linkages with specified traits, or assists in backcrossing marker-linked traits into desired genetic backgrounds. Because of environmental externalities, market prices may not reflect the true social costs and benefits of particular technology adoption choices. Governments can play a role in improving environmental quality, not only by internalising externalities, but also by correcting market failures in the provision of information. Improved production techniques and management practices can improve efficiency and cut both waste and pollution, in effect replacing other, more polluting inputs with clean input information. However, information has certain aspects of a public good, and it is difficult for individual suppliers to restrict its use to only those who have paid for it. Consequently, private markets may undersupply information about environmentally beneficial technologies. Insufficient information can also constrain the adoption of new technologies by farmers. In such cases, the government may be able to improve efficiency by collecting and providing information about resource-conserving practices.

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