Agricultural innovations are important, especially as climatic conditions around the world have been subject to increasing change over the past decades. Through innovation, farmers can adapt to the changing conditions and secure their livelihoods. In Nepal, 75% of the population depends upon agriculture, which is impacted by climate change, migration, and feminisation. In this context, it is important to understand what drives a household to start agricultural innovation to increase its economic benefits and resilience in the face of multiple pressures. We sought a comprehensive understanding of these drivers by investigating the determinants of rural innovation, using macadamia and walnut trees as examples of novel, potentially commercialised cash crops. After conducting an in-depth household survey that divided farmers into those who cultivate nuts and those who do not, we analysed the socio-economic and cultural characteristics of each category using statistical tests and a multiple logistic regression. Our results show that the individual variables of ethnicity, wealth and “years of experience with fruit trees” correlate significantly with nut cultivation. The results of the multiple regression suggest that “years of experience with tree cultivation” and “having an income through fruit trees” most influence nut cultivation. Overall, we conclude that nut cultivation is an accepted and promising cash crop mostly grown by wealthier households, and that, for poor, landless, or female-headed households to benefit, alternative business models and new policies must be explored and developed. We further suggest that this is also true for other nut or other cash crop trees that have gained recent attention in Nepal such as almond, hazelnut, or pecan farming.
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