Informal change agents and faith: Diffusing agricultural innovations among Kenyan farmers
This study focused on Kenyan farmers in the Moiben area who participated in three agricultural seminars from November 2011 to January 2012. The problem of interest was food insecurity in Sub-Saharan Africa, and, specifically, the need for improvement in dissemination of improved agricultural practices to enhance production and processing of crops related to food security and socio-economic well-being. The researcher investigated associations between trainee characteristics, including involvement with local faith communities and their subsequent behavior related to adopting and diffusing improved practices to others. He collected data using a demographic questionnaire and two structured interview schedules, one linked to adoption behavior and the other to diffusion behavior. Correlational analysis was conducted on the demographic and post-training criterion variables, using point-biserial and biserial correlations, Pearson product-moment correlations, and Kendall’s tau correlations. The key findings of the study were small-to-medium-sized positive correlations (≥.10 to <.50) between three of the demographic variables (education level, farmers’-group membership, and level of church involvement) and the two main criterion/outcome variables (successful adoption and diffusion). There were correlations of generally greater magnitude (.29 to .78) between the two criterion variables. The study concluded that these findings imply that increased engagement by farmers in education, participation in farmers’ groups, and voluntary activity in a faith community whose beliefs and values they share are associated with greater effectiveness by these farmers as informal change agents in adopting and disseminating improved agricultural practices. Further research is recommended into the predictive function of these characteristics with reference to the innovation-diffusion process, and into the interactions among them when they are combined. It is also recommended that the offering of community-based agricultural seminars such as those in this study be continued and expanded, as an important component in a pluralistic model of agricultural extension methodology for Sub-Saharan Africa.