Can farmer-to-farmer communication boost the dissemination of agroforestry innovations? Case in Sulawesi, Indonesia
Research agencies generate a vast number of agroforestry innovations, many of which have significant potential to increase productivity and to improve livelihoods. However, the dissemination of information related to these innovations and their adoption rate remains low throughout Indonesia, particularly in areas with a low level of infrastructure development, such as in Sulawesi, Indonesia. In areas such as these, interpersonal communication between farmers (farmer-to-farmer interpersonal communication) is a significant means by which farmers obtain information related to agroforestry innovations that they may utilize to improve the productivity of their plots. Given the significance of this channel of communication, further investigation is merited to assess how it might be leveraged to improve the dissemination of information related to agroforestry innovations and how it can complement the use of other communication channels. Thus, this study was conducted to identify how farmer-to-farmer interpersonal communication is used and the extent to which it is a preferred means by which information related to agroforestry innovations is disseminated in Sulawesi, Indonesia. Data was collected through semi-structured interviews involving 144 farmers (40 % female) from 12 villages in the provinces of South Sulawesi and Southeast Sulawesi, Indonesia. Results show distinct differences in terms of farmers' preferences for the various types of disseminators of information related to agroforestry innovations between provinces and genders. It was found that farmers play a significant role as reliable disseminators of information related to agroforestry innovations to a greater extent in areas where farmer's access to government extension agents is limited and where language barriers act as a constraint to the dissemination of information by these agents. Farmer-to-farmer communication is not the only communication channel for the dissemination of the information, but it is preferred by farmers who only speak local languages. Thus, to enhance the dissemination rate of agroforestry innovations, farmer-to-farmer communication channels should be utilized to complement the use of other channels. In areas where farmer-to-farmer communication channels are preferred, deliberate measures to improve expert farmers' and opinion leaders' access to information related to agricultural and agroforestry innovations will facilitate the effective dissemination of this information amongst a greater number of farmers.