Adoption is the term used to describe the process through which farmers make the decision to use either agricultural technologies (e.g. seeds of improved varieties) or management techniques (e.g. zero-tillage).
Estimates of the extent of global adoption of CGIAR germplasm
The study by Evenson and Gollin (2003) still represents the best overview of the extent of global adoption of modern crop varieties that are either directly the result of CGIAR research or that have been bred making use of CGIAR material. The recent update by Renkow and Byerlee (2010) presents the Evenson and Gollin data, in combination with area data from FAOStat, as follows:
Area in developing countries
Estimated number of variety releases
Share of area to modern varieties
Share of modern variety area to CGIAR cross
Share of modern variety area to any CGIAR ancestry
Total genetic improvement to yield growth
CGIAR genetic improvement contribution to yield growth
(1998, millions hectares)
(1965-1965, % per year)
% per year)
0.35 to 0.39
0.35 to 0.39
0.33 to 0.39
0.11 to 0.13
0.25 to 0.33
SPIA are currently leading a project called Diffusion and Impact of Improved Varieties in Africa (DIVA - jointly managed with Bioversity International, and with funding from the Gates Foundation) that aims to update our estimates of the adoption of CGIAR-derived improved varieties in Sub-Saharan Africa. Go here for more information.
The study of adoption
In order for a farmer to decide to adopt a research output, a number of conditions must be met. The first condition is that the farmer must know about the technology. The second condition is that they must have access to it. The third condition is that they should expect that their future profits to increase as a result of using it. Where all of these conditions are met, we should expect to see wide-spread adoption by farmers.
Zvi Griliches, an influential agricultural economist, published his PhD dissertation in 1957 on the topic of the diffusion of hybrid corn technology across the United States. His main finding was that the process of adoption follows a logistic curve, with the more entrepreneurial farmers adopting first (see the graph below). Hybrid corn raised productivity of corn production significantly, and yet the timing of its widespread adoption in different states depended on a number factors, including the marketing / extension strategies of commercial seed producers and location of government research stations, and variations in the ratio of costs (from more expensive seed) and benefits (higher yield).
However, some technologies that are potentially beneficial to farmers and to society, are not adopted. In 2000, only 17% of the area planted to maize in Sub-Saharan Africa used modern varieties, as compared with 54% for South Asia and 90% for South-East Asia and Pacific (Gollin et al, 2005). In West Africa, it is estimated that only 1 in 7 of the farmers for whom adoption of NERICA rice varieties would be profitable has actually adopted.
A team of eminent researchers at the Massachussetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the University of California, Berkeley (UCB) are running a six-year initiative that aims to understand why there is low adoption of agricultural technologies and what kinds of development interventions are effective at raising aggregate levels of adoption.
For more information go to: http://atai-research.org
Renkow, M. and D. Byerlee (2010) The impacts of CGIAR research: A review of recent evidence. Food Policy, 35: 391-402.
Evenson, R. E. and D. Gollin (Eds. 2003) Crop Variety Improvement and its Effect on Productivity. Wallingford, Oxon: CABI International. CABI International have kindly given us permission to post the full text of this book as a pdf here.
Gollin, D., Morris, M. and D. Byerlee (2005) Technology Adoption in Intensive Post-Green Revolution Systems. American Journal of Agricultural Economics 87(5): 1310-1316
Griliches, Z. (1988 ) Hybrid Corn: An Exploration of the Economics of Technological Change. Chapter in:Technology, Education and Productivity: Early Papers with Notes to Subsequent Literature, pp. 27–52. New York: Basil Blackwell.