Social networks and access to soybean value chains in rural Mozambique
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Mozambique is one of the poorest, malnourished and foreign aid dependent countries in Africa. About half of its 27 million people live below poverty in the rural areas and depend on agriculture. Over the last ten years, Mozambique has witness excessive flooding and drought which have exacerbated crop failures, declining soil fertility, increased food prices and scarcity. As a result, soybeans have been introduced as a means to assist resource poor farmers to gain access to food, income and improve soil fertility. The agriculture sector employs over 80% of the population and contributes almost 30% to the country's GDP. Regardless, many of the smallholder farmers lack access to agriculture information, inputs and credit due to weak institutions. Studies on Mozambique farmers have suggested social networks as vital for agriculture technology adoption. However, unknown are the types and social networks that might promote access to soybean value chains. The diffusion of innovation theory and social network analysis (SNA) were used to examine and explain what types of households participated in soybean uptake and the types of information and seed networks they accessed. The diffusion of innovations theory provides a framework through which the researchers could explain how soybean farming and practices related to soybeans moved across the community. SNA technique was used to construct, identify and assess the various agricultural information and seed networks accessed by those who adopted soybeans. Therefore, SNA was used to identify (a) what types of networks men and women in rural Mozambique accessed and (b) how the existing networks facilitated access to soybean value chains. This study used primary data that was collected by the Soybean Innovation Laboratory and the Mozambique Institute for Agriculture Research between 2014 and 2016 using the Mozambique Women Empowerment in Agriculture Index (WEAI+), Soybean Uptake and Networks survey (SUNS), Network Pilot Survey (NPS) and focus group interviews. Soybean uptake was assessed using logistic regression models first at the "macro" (regional) level and "micro" (village) level. The micro-level data utilized was collected from two villages located in Manica province. The overall findings suggested that there were regional differences on soybean uptake. Households located in the northern region were more likely to uptake soybeans compared to those in the central region. Socio-demographic characteristics such as gender, age, ability to speak Portuguese and access to extension services influenced soybean uptake at both the macro and micro-level. Women in married types of households as well as those who participated in decision-making on inputs to be purchased for cash crop farming were also more likely to uptake soybeans. The networks accessed for soybeans information were complex and provided smallholder farmers both bonding and bridging ties that promoted soybean uptake. We also found that even though women were more willing to uptake soybeans those with larger friendship networks were less likely to uptake soybeans and also had limited access to improved seed and information networks. Hence future studies should consider examining what types of bridging networks could promote access to improved soybean seed and agriculture information.
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