Farmers’ attitudes toward technology adoption highlight RCD-led webinar

Despite the government investments in agriculture and fisheries research, development, and extension (AF RD&E), the technology adoption and agricultural production remains low. As the lead AF research and development agency, DA-BAR has funded numerous researches that produced viable technologies and technology interventions. While the bureau has reported successful adoption of these technologies, it further hopes to get an even larger number of farmers and fisherfolk to adopt science-based interventions. 

During the National Agricultural and Fisheries Mechanization Program-Technical Working Group meeting on 2 September 2022, key stakeholders identified the need to look into the farmers’ and fisherfolk’ attitudes and behaviors toward adopting these technologies. As one of the efforts to address this need, DA-BAR Research Coordination Division (RCD) conducted the webinar, titled UGALI: Farmers’ Attitude and Competencies behind Rice Technology Adoption and Business, on 30 September 2022 via Webex and was attended by 97 participants from DA-BAR and DA-Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice). 

Malaking hamon ito sa atin sapagkat ang magsasaka ay may pag-uugali na dapat nating maintindihan at mapagsumikapan na gawaan ng paraan kung paano natin mababago ang kanyang pananaw sa ating inaalay na teknolohiya at upang tanggapin niya ito at gamitin bilang bahagi ng kanyang pang-araw-araw na pagsasaka at pamumuhay,” said DA-BAR assistant director for Programs Joell H. Lales in his opening message. 

Marco Antonio M. Baltazar, science research specialist at DA-PhilRice, discussed the results of the 2020 behavioral survey and assessment of farmers’ attitudes and competencies. The participants include 460 farmers from the 55 top rice producing provinces using two-stage stratified random sampling. 

He pointed out the many inconsistencies spotted on their data such as “farmers are receptive to technologies but data on low technology adoption persists.” 

Further, farmers are willing to learn complex technologies but data on high adoption points to ‘simple’ technologies. They also prefer to learn from someone and not solely from reading but they are given more distant learning materials. 

They also recognize that experts are more knowledgeable but they are adamant in adopting new technologies because they are comfortable with their current practices. They also acknowledge that they are accountable for their decisions on the farm but usually point fingers, giving excuses, and blaming other people’s actions and their current situation. Lastly, they are into farming but they do not consider themselves as entrepreneurs. 

As evident in these contradicting opinions, farmers tend to have a lot of inconsistent information, attitudes, and beliefs toward farming. With the tendency of the brain to lean toward its bias, farmers continue to choose the same old practices or the ‘safer’ option over the scientific-based technology interventions. 

Baltazar pointed out that the combined and rippling effects of these inconsistencies are alarming. For example, he mentioned that co-farmers are the main source of information for them but the information that they are disseminating might not be what the AF RD&E institutions are promoting. 

He also discussed the farmers’ Personal Entrepreneurial Competencies or the behavioral patterns and traits found common in successful entrepreneurs. Owing to the insight that most farmers do not see themselves as entrepreneurs, inevitably their weakest competencies were opportunity seeking, risk taking, persuasion and networking, and persistence, while the strongest competencies were self-confidence, demand for quality and efficiency, and goal setting. However, these strong points do not always translate into a positive outlook. 

“They are prone to frustration. Ito ‘yong mga short wick, maikli ang mitsa. Kapag nagkamali nang minsan, hindi na uulit ‘yan. Kaya kapag mayro’n silang nabalitaan or sila mismo naka-experience na hindi gumana itong technology na ito or may issue do’n sa technology, sila ‘yong flight agad ang reaction ng kanilang utak,” explained Baltazar. 

“We want to trigger objectivity when they process information,” he stressed because farmers tend to see farming subjectively. 

Baltazar recommended to continue building behavioral database, assess the extension system, and incorporate entrepreneurial and behavioral training in future extension programs. 

Naniniwala akong hindi tayo kulang sa efforts —‘yong improvement natin ng technology, kung paano natin dalhin sa kanila ‘yong technology okay ‘yan kaya nga lang it’s just human nature for them to encounter inconsistencies when exposed to what we are offering. Na nagli-lead sa discomfort na naghi-hinder sa kanila na makita ‘yong gusto nating ipakita. We need to reform their views and values on farming as a business. So that we will speak the same, see the same, and eventually be on the same page,” he ended. (### Rena S. Hermoso)