Conference Paper

What and who has determined adoption? A study on improved forage technologies in Colombia from an Agricultural Innovation System (AIS) perspective

The complex process behind the adoption of improved forages in Colombia remains largely unexplored. Despite governmental and scientific efforts to promote and disseminate the implementation of improved forages for the sake of sustainable livestock production, local livestock producers continue to extensively use native species and adoption rates of more efficient forages remain low. This study explores the dynamics behind the development and diffusion of improved forage technologies in Colombia, from the 1960's to the present through an Agricultural Innovation Systems (AIS) perspective. Here we map the agents involved, classify the roles they exerted over time and reconstruct the historical context in which the creation and dissemination of forage technologies in the country took form. Through the use of qualitative research tools such as in-depth interviews, focus group discussions and extensive archival work, we were able to identify various factors determining the course of improved forage adoption processes. First, a gradual declinement on public and private investment destined to agricultural research hindered national scientific agendas and affected the continuity of ongoing projects. Second, the primacy of interpersonal relationships further complicates this panorama as it can either interfere with or promote the use of improved forages, subjecting technology dissemination to a non-institutional realm. Thirdly, released technological packages remain incomplete and impede rising adoption rates, mainly due to both Colombia’s low-latitude (and its restrictions for national seed production) and ineffective processes of training and support aimed at local livestock producers. Aside from the identification of key actors and historical trends, the study concludes by suggesting the implementation of a systematic (AIS) approach that gives account of the complex and ever changing process of forage adoption, its agents, roles, strengths and limitations so that a comprehensive diagnosis can serve as a guideline for future adoption policies in the subject.