Risk, uncertainty, and learning in adoption of a crop innovation


*Corresponding author. Tel.: +61-8-9844-8659; fax: +61-8-9844-8659.
E-mail address:David.Pannell@uwa.edu.au (D. J. Pannell).


Risk and uncertainty have often been suggested as causes of poor adoption of rural innovations, but empirical evidence has been scarce. This study focuses on a new crop-type, chickpeas, in Western Australia to gather such evidence. The empirical models developed are based on a theoretical framework that conceptualizes adoption as a dynamic decision process involving information acquisition and learning-by-doing by growers who vary in their managerial abilities, risk preferences, and their perceptions of the profitability and riskiness of the innovation. Learning encompasses improvements in skill as well as reductions in uncertainty. An annual face-to-face survey of over 100 farmers was conducted over 3 years, eliciting the farmers' risk attitudes and their subjective distributions of yields and prices. Two limited dependent variable models, Tobit and Probit, are used to estimate the empirical model. There is a high degree of goodness-of-fit for both models. The study provides strong empirical support for the primarily economic character of the adoption decision, and highlight the importance of economic risk in the process. The two risk-related factors with greatest impact on the adoption decision were risk aversion and relative riskiness of the innovation. Risk aversion tended to reduce adoption, and to do so to a greater extent as relative riskiness and scale increased. Results also reveal the key role that trialing of the innovation plays in adoption.