This paper summarises the results of an adoption study conducted in 1994/95 in the western hills of Nepal, to determine the level and extent of adoption of 15 selected field crop, horticulture, livestock and forestry technologies. The study formed part of an evaluation of the research impact of Lumle Agriculture Research Centre (LARC) and aimed to identify lessons for the future conduct of research and research-extension linkages. A sample of 424 households were stratified by agro-ecological zone (low hills, middle hills and high hills) and by level of LARC extension input (high, medium, low and no input). To determine the distribution of adoption of the technologies, a set of key factors was developed from the stratification and by classifying households according to ethnicity, food self-sufficiency, accessibility, sex of household-head and sex of questionnaire respondent. Survey questions were used to identify the reasons for household adoption and the reasons for the distribution of adoption.
The level of awareness of technologies was generally good: more than 80 per cent of households were classified as aware of the new technologies. Households were most frequently classified as having not tried a technology (25 to 70 per cent across the technologies). The dominant reasons for not trying a technology were related to constraints internal to the farming system (typically lack of labour or land). Lack of information/inputs needed to try the technology, or technical problems—typically difficulty of managing the technology or its incompatibility with the farming system—were less important. Once technologies had been tried, the majority (more than 60 per cent) of households adopted them.
Adoption was highest for the cases of improved maize, wheat and grain legume varieties, improved tree fruit crops and planting of fodder trees. Intermediate levels of adoption were found for the technologies of improved rice, finger millet, potato and barley varieties, crossbreeding of cattle and buffalo, parasitic drenching of livestock and improved forage species. Adoption levels of improved vegetable crops, vegetable seed production and rabbit farming were low.
The level and distribution of adoption was significantly influenced by LARC extension input and by ethnicity and household food self-sufficiency. Greater extension input increased awareness of the technologies, and also increased the rate of trying and thus adoption rates. Adoption rates were significantly lower amongst some ethnic groups and overall, decreased with decreasing household food self-sufficiency status. The influence of agro-ecological zone, access and gender on adoption were much smaller and more variable among the different technologies.
Multivariate analysis identified five groups of households characterised by their adoption profiles. The smallest group (10 per cent of the sample) were high adopters—adopting or undecided on up to five technologies. The largest group (27 per cent of the sample) were non-adopters—had not adopted and were not undecided about any technology. The results of the adoption study were compared to those of an extension impact study conducted for the same sample of households in the previous year. There was a significant positive association between households who had adopted new technologies and those that had reported an increase in total food grain production, fodder supply and increased workload in the extension impact study.