Agricultural innovation : Learning for adopting

June 01, 2016 > June 02, 2016, Clermont-Ferrand

This research workshop was a joint event between Ferdi, Cerdi and SPIA of the CGIAR. It was meant to elicit brainstorming among 19 experts to explore research avenues and innovative design for the learning and adoption of new technologies by farmers.

Progress in productivity and income largely occurs via the adoption of technological and institutional innovations. Adoption of these innovations in turn crowds-in the greater use of factors of production and the adoption of other innovations.

Part of the under-development problem thus comes from insufficient adoption of potentially available innovations. While there are many obstacles to adoption, a major barrier is lack of access to information and lack of learning in using this information.

In this research workshop, we take on the issue of how smallholder farmers learn about new technological and institutional innovations and how this can be assisted by specific interventions. Learning can be direct through one’s own experimenting (often in response to advice received from extension agents or agro-dealers) or social through information conveyed by other farmers in one’s social network. To be effective, the way information is conveyed to farmers should correspond to the way they learn. This takes on many forms that will be explored in the workshop. Looming behind this effort is potential re-crafting of public or private extension services, a domain still in need of innovative designs and often acting as a major bottleneck to the adoption and diffusion of innovations.

This research workshop was a joint offering between Ferdi and SPIA of the CGIAR. It has been organized at the Ferdi in Clermont-Ferrand on June 1-2, 2016. It was meant to elicit brainstorming among 20-25 experts to explore research avenues and innovative designs for farmer learning for adopting. The immediate outcome will be a set of policy briefs on the subject published by Ferdi. The long-term outcome is expected to be better research conducted by participants.

We would like to thank the Université d’Auvergne and the Programme “Investissement d’avenir” for their support.


Wednesday June 1st / Mercredi 1er Juin
  • Introduction : Learning for adopting

Chair: Alain de Janvry, Ferdi

Issues to be addressed
 Patrick Guillaumont, Université d’Auvergne et Président de la Ferdi Karen Macours, PSE and SPIA Alain de Janvry, UC Berkeley and Ferdi 

  • Session 1: Theoretical perspective on learning for adopting

Chair: Vianney Dequiedt, Cerdi

Learning models, Elisabeth Sadoulet, UC Berkeley 

Social learning and network theory, Jeremy Magruder, UC Berkeley
Social learning in  the presence of imperfect information and heterogeneity, Emilia Tjernstrom, University of Wisconsin 

  • Session 2: From theory to empiricism

Chair: Douglas Gollin, Oxford University

Selective trials for entry points and social learning, Sylvain Chassang, Princeton University and PSE
Technology adoption under uncertainly, Kelsey Jack, Tufts University
Trust in social networks, Stefano Caria, Oxford University
Heterogeneity and learning from others, Xavier Gine, The World Bank 

Thursday June, 2nd / Jeudi 2 juin
  • Session 3: From learning to the design of extension services

Chair: Catherine Araujo-Bonjean, Cerdi

Correspondence between learning and extension models, Alain de Janvry, UC Berkeley and Ferdi
Optimizing social learning about agricultural technology: Experiments in India and Bangladesh, Kyle Emerick, Tufts University 

Learning-by-doing and learning-from-others: evidence from agronomical trials in Kenya, Karen Macours, PSE and SPIA
Learning versus status quo bias and the role of social capital in technology adoption: The case of cocoa farmers in Cote d’Ivoire, Alain Desdoigts, IRD and Paris I 

  • Session 4: Research perspectives

Chair: Karen Macours, PSE and SPIA

Targeting extension services in the DRC, Tanguy Bernard, Université de Bordeaux 

Lessons learnt and future directions, Panel discussion: Elisabeth Sadoulet, Jeremy Magruder, Sylvain Chassang, Vianney Dequiedt 


Organisateurs, Innovations agricoles : apprendre pour adopter, 1-2 juin 2016 –


Avec le support de l'Université d’Auvergne et du programme “Investissement d’avenir” du gouvernement français. –