Food Security

, Volume 6, Issue 3, pp 397–409 | Cite as

Social relationships impact adoption of agricultural technologies: the case of food crop varieties in Timor-Leste

  • Liv Pommer JensenEmail author
  • Kim Picozzi
  • Octavio da Costa Monteiro de Almeida
  • Marcelino de Jesus da Costa
  • Luc Spyckerelle
  • William Erskine
Original Paper


Factors related to adoption of new agricultural technologies have been given increasing attention, especially in developing countries where such technologies offer opportunities to increase food production. One of the most immediate ways to improve food production significantly is through the adoption of high yielding varieties of food crops, but rates of adoption are often low, especially among the rural poor. In Timor-Leste, improved varieties of food crops with yield advantages across all agro-ecological zones have been introduced. However, despite yield advantages, suitability and high levels of food insecurity, discontinuance occurs and adoption rates are low. To identify factors related to adoption of the improved varieties across agro-ecological zones, binary logistic regression was performed on data collected from 1511 rural households. The results identified several factors related to adoption and showed that their impact varied across agro-ecological zones. The factor most strongly related to adoption was having a relationship to a grower of an improved variety of food crop and the closeness of this relationship. Furthermore, the following factors were related to adoption with variation across agro-ecological zones: age; education; size of farming plots; travel time between household and farming plot; involvement with the programme developing the improved varieties of food crops and participation in groups and training programmes. Overall, the findings of this study emphasize that dissemination strategies should embrace social relationships and be sensitive to agro-ecological zones.


Adoption Agricultural technologies Social relationships Agro-ecological zone Improved food crop varieties Timor-Leste 



The authors wish to gratefully acknowledge the support of the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID) and the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) to the Seeds of Life program. We would also like to thank the interviewed farmers who gave their time and resources to participate in the survey. Lastly, we would like to thank Dr. Wietse A. Tol for comments to earlier drafts of this manuscript.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht and International Society for Plant Pathology 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Liv Pommer Jensen
    • 1
    Email author
  • Kim Picozzi
    • 2
  • Octavio da Costa Monteiro de Almeida
    • 3
  • Marcelino de Jesus da Costa
    • 4
  • Luc Spyckerelle
    • 4
  • William Erskine
    • 5
  1. 1.University of Edinburgh, Medical SchoolChancellor’s BuildingEdinburghUK
  2. 2.University of Edinburgh Medical SchoolEdinburghUK
  3. 3.Directorate for Policy and PlanningMinistry of Agriculture and Fisheries, ComoroDiliTimor-Leste
  4. 4.Seeds of Life, Timor-LesteDiliTimor-Leste
  5. 5.Centre for Legumes in Mediterranean AgricultureUniversity of Western AustraliaCrawleyAustralia

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