|Title||To cluster or not to cluster farmers? Influences on network interactions, risk perceptions, and adoption of aquaculture practices|
|Author(s)||Joffre, Olivier M.; Poortvliet, P.M.; Klerkx, Laurens|
|Source||Agricultural Systems 173 (2019). - ISSN 0308-521X - p. 151 - 160.|
Knowledge Technology and Innovation
|Publication type||Refereed Article in a scientific journal|
|Keyword(s)||Adoption - farmers' interactions - Group farming - Risk perception - Shrimp farming - Vietnam|
Over the course of just a few years, shrimp farming has become a major aquaculture production system in coastal areas of several developing countries across the globe. However, farmers are facing a variety of risks related to disease, market, and climate, which influence risk management strategies and adoption of new technologies. This paper looks at three practices related to pond management: (1) water quality management to ensure a good environment for shrimp growth; (2) adequate feed input; and (3) disease control practices in order to mitigate the risk of disease outbreak in the pond. We investigated adoption of these three practices in smallholder shrimp farms in the Mekong Delta, by exploring how and whether membership into a producer's cluster influences access to knowledge and perception of risk in the adoption process. The results show that, after controlling for farm characteristics, farm clustering has a positive relationship with the adoption of water quality management, feed inputs, and disease control practices. Results also indicate that increasing interaction frequency with public sector and private sector's actors, as well as the perceived degree of market risk, positively influences the adoption of the three pond management practices under study. Mediation analyses show that being a member of a farmer cluster influences adoption of farming practices via two underlying processes: frequency of interaction with public and private sector's actors, and perception of market risk, both of which ultimately promote the adoption of practices. We conclude that clustering is a promising avenue for fostering interactions between farmers and key supporting actors in aquaculture, and impacts both the formation of specific aqua-related risk perceptions and subsequent practice adoption. As such, clusters – by fostering linkages and facilitating interactions between different knowledge sources – can promote adoption of practices toward sustainable intensification. However, to more effectively deploy a cluster approach a key policy and practice implication is to take into consideration local idiosyncrasies defined by their social interactions, risk perception and spatial dimensions in order to better facilitate local linkages between farms (horizontal coordination) and a better integration with the value chain (vertical coordination).