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Agriculture 2016, 6(3), 32; doi:10.3390/agriculture6030032

Development Interventions and Agriculture Adaptation: A Social Network Analysis of Farmer Knowledge Transfer in Ghana

1
Department of Geography, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON M5S 3G3, Canada
2
Faculty of Renewable Natural Resources, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, Ghana
3
Department of Physical and Environmental Sciences and the Centre for Critical Development Studies, University of Toronto Scarborough, Toronto, ON M1C 1A4, Canada
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Gbadebo Oladosu
Received: 17 May 2016 / Revised: 14 July 2016 / Accepted: 21 July 2016 / Published: 26 July 2016
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Abstract

Social ties play an important role in agricultural knowledge exchange, particularly in developing countries with high exposure to agriculture development interventions. Institutions often facilitate agricultural training projects, with a focus on agroecological practices, such as agroforestry and agrobiodiversity. The structural characteristics of social networks amongst land managers influences decision-making to adopt such adaptive agroecoloigcal practice; however, the extent of knowledge transfer beyond direct project participants is often unknown. Using a social network approach, we chart the structure of agrarian knowledge networks (n = 131) in six communities, which have been differentially exposed to agriculture development interventions in Ghana. Farmer network size, density and composition were distinctly variable; development project-affiliated farmers were embedded in larger networks, had non-affiliated farmers within their networks, were engaged in more diverse agricultural production and reported adopting and adapting agroecological practice more frequently. Such bridging ties that link across distinctive groups in a network can expose network members to new and innovative agroecological practices, such as increasing agrobiodiversity, thus, contributing to livelihood strategies that mitigate environmental and market risk. Furthermore, we show that these knowledge networks were crop-specific where network size varied given the type of crop produced. Such factors, which may influence the rate and extent of agroecological knowledge diffusion, are critical for the effectiveness of land management practices as well as the persistence of agriculture development interventions. View Full-Text
Keywords: agrobiodiversity; agroecology; agroforestry; informal networks; international development; knowledge transfer; social network analysis; Theobroma cacao agrobiodiversity; agroecology; agroforestry; informal networks; international development; knowledge transfer; social network analysis; Theobroma cacao
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Cadger, K.; Quaicoo, A.K.; Dawoe, E.; Isaac, M.E. Development Interventions and Agriculture Adaptation: A Social Network Analysis of Farmer Knowledge Transfer in Ghana. Agriculture 2016, 6, 32.

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