Behavioural approaches to farmer learning

What do we need to take us from intention to action? We all have good intentions. We all want to exercise more or learn something new, for example, but when the moment to take action arrives, we often defer the decision. Rural farmers are no different; typically there is a gap between the farming knowledge they might gain from training and extension services, and what they put into practice on their farms.

Following an introduction to a team from the design lab ideas42, we became interested in how behavioural factors may influence the way farmers put learning into practice – the decisions they make, and the actions they take. After several conversations about Juhudi’s farmer training programs and the uptake of new concepts and practices by our farmers, ideas42 team members Dana Guichon and Matt Darling arrived in Kenya for a week-long learning visit with us.

Dana and Matt first spent some time learning about Juhudi’s operations and business at our Head Office in Nairobi. Then they set off, in the company of our intrepid Extension Officer Samwel Tobiko, to the Kericho area to spend three days attending our farmer training sessions and visiting a farmer group meeting. Dana and Matt asked millions of questions, both to Juhudi staff and to our farmers. They wanted to learn as much as they could about the social, behavioural, and psychological factors at play in a rural smallholder farmer’s daily decision-making process.

The information-gathering and learning visit was followed by a debrief with the Juhudi Labs team, back in Nairobi. We went through the observations they made during the field visit and identified three potential areas for further investigation, all related to how farmers access, absorb, put into practice, and share the farming and business-related information Juhudi makes available to them.

Under the Juhudi Labs Field Research Program, we will now work with the ideas42 team to narrow our scope of investigation, looking more closely at a particular learning challenge that farmers face and applying approaches from behavioural science to better understand and solve it. Here we go, from intention to action!

The ideas42 and Juhudi teams with a farmer group in Brooke, near Kericho

The ideas42 and Juhudi teams with a farmer group in Brooke, near Kericho

About ideas42

ideas42 is a non-profit design lab and consulting firm that uses insights from behavioural science to create innovative solutions to complex social problems. We aim to achieve impact at scale by applying the latest research on human behaviour to policy, program and product design. Our work involves educating decision makers and leaders about the power of behavioural science and how to apply it; improving existing products, policies, and programs; and inventing new products that draw on behavioural insights. We apply our expertise to a range of domains including consumer finance, education, economic opportunity, energy consumption and environmental conservation, healthcare, criminal justice, and agriculture.

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