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Researchers uncover role of behavioural economics in improving adoption of CASI technology

Australian and South Asian researchers examining farmer decision making found that behavioural economics can play a critical role in improving technology adoption. The multi-disciplinary team of scientists have been studying the value of behavioural economics in technology adoption in South Asia, under a research project funded by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR). The research aims to discover how behavioural economics and its applications can assist in better understanding farm management decision-making and improve adoption of sustainable management practices and agricultural technologies proven to have economic and environmental benefits, such as conservation Agriculture Sustainable Intensification (CASI) technologies.

The Farmer Behaviour Insights Project (FBIP) is led by the University of Western Australia with several partner organisations based in Nepal, India and Bangladesh.

“Our partner organisations are engaging governments, research institutions and agricultural organisations to share the knowledge generated under FBIP research, including the value of behavioural economics in improving the uptake of CASI” says Project Leader, Associate Professor Fay Rola-Rubzen from the Centre for Agricultural Economics and Development (CAED) at the University of Western Australia.

For example, FBIP partner, Bihar Agricultural University (Sabour), recently collaborated with Zero Budget Natural Farming and the Bhola Paswan Shastri Agricultural College, Purnea (BPSAC) to organise a highly successful 2-day workshop on the topic Conservation Agriculture Based Sustainable Intensification (CASI): The Behavioural Aspects. Day one involved an orientation for the B.Sc. (Agriculture) students, teachers, researchers and other staff of BPSAC. The workshop presenters included Dr. P.K. Singh, Director of Research, Bihar Agricultural University, Dr. Paras Nath, Associate Dean, BPSAC, Dr. Ranvir Kumar, FBIP Principal Investigator, and three of BAU’s Agronomy specialists.

The presentations discussed CASI and the benefits to farming communities, including soil health and reduced irrigation costs. BAU reiterated their commitment to help double farmers income, which would be significantly helped along with the increased adoption of new agricultural technology such as CASI. The FBIP research was presented, which substantiated behavioural aspects as playing a key role in farmer decision-making to adopt CASI.

The clear message of the day was that BAU students and staff can help bridge the gap that exists in adoption of new proven technologies by studying farmer behaviour. Day two of the programme followed a similar format to an external audience of around 125 participants, including dignitaries, scientists, and farmers. It was exciting to see around 50 women farmers participating in the programme.

FBIP researchers also participated in the 66th Annual Conference of the Australasian Agricultural & Resource Economics Society (AARES Conference). FBIP research findings were presented to the academic community. The recordings are available on the FBIP website (see FBIP Outreach).

With continued communication and engagements across the various stakeholder groups, the improved understanding about CASI adoption obtained through FBIP by applying behavioural economics is being transferred for use by policy makers, program managers, investors, and the scientific community.

For more information, contact Dr Fay Rola-Rubzen at

ACIAR Project: CSE/2012/108


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