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Decision–making and innovation among small–scale yam farmers in central Jamaica: a dynamic, pragmatic and adaptive process

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Many researchers in the Caribbean have protested the generally negative stereotyping of small–scale farmers and the small–scale domestic agricultural sector. The essence of this pejorative attitude is that small–scale farmers display apathy and resistance to change and are reluctant to accept innovations. A major reason for this perspective is a lack of knowledge and understanding of and sensitivity towards the factors that influence and inform farmers’ decisions. Studying the decision–making of small–scale farmers can, therefore, shed light on their activities and help inform policymaking. This paper uses the example of small–scale yam farmers in central Jamaica to explore and investigate important issues related to decision–making innovations around four questions. Can the decisions of farmers about innovations be considered to be rational? What are the major factors that influence decision outcomes? Why do so many agricultural innovations and modernization initiatives that target small–scale farmers fail? Do farmers really shun innovations that have clear and obvious benefits and, if so, why?
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Keywords: Jamaica; agricultural decision–making; cold rationalism; perception; rational conservatism; small–scale farmers

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Windsor, Ontario, Canada

Publication date: 2002-09-01

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