Economics
Research insight
January 4, 2021

From Learning to Doing: Diffusion of Agricultural Innovations in Guinea-Bissau

This paper analyzes the role of social networks in the diffusion of knowledge and adoption of cultivation techniques, from trainees to the wider community, in the context of an extension project in Guinea-Bissau. In order to test for social learning, we exploit a detailed census of households and social connections across different dimensions. More precisely, we make use of a village photo directory in order to obtain a comprehensive and fully mapped social network dataset. We find evidence that agricultural information spreads across networks from project participants to non-participants, with different networks having different importance. The most relevant connection is found to be between the network of people from which individuals would ‘borrow money’. We are also able to disentangle the relative importance of weak and strong ties: in our context, weak ties are as important in the diffusion of agricultural knowledge as strong ties. Despite positive diffusion effects in knowledge, we found limited evidence of network effects in adoption behavior. Finally, using longitudinal network data, we document improvements in the network position of treated farmers over time.

This content was originally published in Novafrica.org

NOVAFRICA Knowledge Center

NOVAFRICA is a knowledge center created by the Nova School of Business and Economics of the Universidade Nova de Lisboa in 2011. Its mission is to produce expertise with an impact on business and economic development in Africa. A particular focus is on Portuguese-speaking Africa, i.e., Angola, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, and Sao Tome and Principe.

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