Understanding the Factors Influencing the Willingness of Small Farmers to Adopt a New Digital Platforms

In a study conducted in Italy, researchers have examined the factors influencing the adoption of digital platforms by small farmers to create sustainable and successful agricultural ecosystems. This research, grounded in the Unified Theory of Acceptance and Use of Technology (UTAUT), extends existing models by incorporating unique constructs such as Environmental Uncertainty and Network Prominence, offering fresh insights into the digital transformation of agriculture.

Small farmers represent a significant portion of global agricultural producers and are crucial for food security and rural development. However, their adoption of digital technology is often limited due to various barriers, including access to resources, digital literacy, and infrastructural limitations. This study investigates how specific factors influence small farmers’ intentions to adopt digital platforms, potentially overcoming these barriers and fostering more efficient, sustainable agricultural practices.

The research employed a comprehensive survey among Italian small farmers, analyzing responses through a custom theoretical framework that enhances the UTAUT model. The findings underscore the positive impact of factors like Performance Expectancy, Effort Expectancy, and Social Influence on farmers’ Behavioral Intentions towards using digital platforms. Interestingly, Environmental Uncertainty emerged as a significant driver, suggesting that in unpredictable market and technological landscapes, the perceived benefits of digital platforms in managing these uncertainties encourage adoption.

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The study highlights the role of Network Prominence, which refers to the benefits of being well-connected within agricultural networks. Farmers who perceive themselves as central in information and resource networks are more likely to adopt digital solutions, indicating the importance of social and professional networks in technology uptake.

This Italian case study is not just locally relevant but also mirrors global dynamics in agriculture, particularly in regions where small-scale farming dominates. It points towards broader implications for agricultural policy and digital platform development worldwide. By addressing the specific needs and challenges faced by small farmers, digital platforms can be tailored to encourage widespread adoption, potentially transforming agricultural practices globally.

The findings suggest that policymakers and platform developers should consider these factors when designing and promoting digital technologies in agriculture. Tailoring digital solutions to the specific contexts and challenges of small farmers, emphasizing ease of use, and enhancing the perceived benefits of such technologies could accelerate their adoption. Furthermore, fostering robust farmer networks and reducing uncertainty through reliable, timely information could make digital platforms more attractive and useful for small farmers.

While the study provides significant insights, it also notes the limitations of focusing solely on Italian small farmers and a specific digital platform under development. Future research could expand this investigation to other countries and farming contexts, enhancing the generalizability of the findings and further refining digital adoption models in agriculture.

See the original study here.

(image:Zoe Schaeffer / Unsplash)


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