Smallholder Farmer Resource Networks and Adaptation in Drought-Prone Agroecosystems

Authors: Stacey Giroux*, , Kurt Waldman, Indiana University, Jordan Blekking, Indiana University, Tom Evans, Indiana University
Topics: Agricultural Geography
Keywords: drought, social networks, agriculture
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/11/2018
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Estherwood, Sheraton, 4th Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Prior work has discussed the importance of social networks for climate adaptation among rural households and communities (e.g., Matuschke and Qaim 2009; Vasilaky 2013), but the role of social networks in social-ecological systems remains underexplored. This is generally true of the Global South (Rockenbauch and Sakdapolrak 2017) but is also true in terms of specific adaptation mechanisms. To understand the role of social networks in facilitating climate adaptation in social-ecological systems, we interviewed 93% of 113 smallholder farmer households who are members of a communal irrigation organization on the slopes of Mount Kenya about sharing and exchange of two specific types of agricultural resources: maize seed information and on-farm labor. We examine the relationships among the farmers within the institutional boundary of the irrigation organization, including general support networks and kin as well as the physical network infrastructure of the irrigation system and water access, and describe the agricultural information and labor networks that exist among these households. We identify leading farmers in the network who are central nodes for information about seeds, and use qualitative data to understand the reasons these farmers are most often consulted. We also analyze the degree to which interactions within and outside of the network influence seed choice, and the extent to which individuals who leverage networks within the irrigation community, whether singular or multiplex, achieve higher maize yields.

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