Sustainable Farming Practices, Awareness, and Behavior in Small Farms in Brazil

Sustainable Farming Practices, Awareness, and Behavior in Small Farms in Brazil

Breno Nunes, Roya Gholami, Dolores Añón Higón
Copyright: © 2021 |Pages: 23
DOI: 10.4018/JGIM.20211101.oa31
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This paper investigates the relationship between the use of digital and non-digital sources of information on sustainable farming practices, institutional pressure and adoption of such practices by farmers in Brazilian semi-arid lands. The research uses a model based on the theory of reasoned action (TRA) and the institutional theory. Our results for a sample of 100 Brazilian farmers show that non-digital sources of information and ‘Coercive’ and ‘Normative’ pressures have a positive impact on farmers’ attitude towards and actual adoption of sustainable farming practices. However, digital sources of information such as TV and Radio do not play a significant role. In addition, pro-environmental attitude drives sustainable behaviour through the adoption of three out of the five sustainable farming practices investigated. Research and policy implications are also discussed.
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1. Introduction

Food production and sustainability have recently been the subject of several studies.1 Unsustainability issues in food production include loss of soil health, pollution associated with pesticides and fertilizer runoff, and greenhouse gas emissions which contribute to climate change (Nelson and Coe, 2014). Climate change is perhaps the biggest of our challenges (Gholami et al., 2016; Gholami et al., 2021; Seidel et al., 2017; Sedera et al., 2017) and farming, in particular livestock production, is one of the key contributors to environmental challenges the world faces today (Allouche, 2011).

Three major challenges related to the agriculture sector have been identified (Dinesh et al., 2018). Climate change affects crop productivity and food security, disrupting agriculture and rural livelihoods (Porter et al., 2014). An increase of food supply is required in order to produce 60% more food by 2050 (Porter et al., 2014). However, up to one third of all human-caused anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions come from agriculture, and farmers are advised to abandon vulnerable crops due to climate change (De Vrese et al., 2018, Chiles et al., 2018).

Previous research advocates that promoting sustainable farming practices among farmers is a ‘knowledge-intensive’ process and requires reconsideration of the ways in which sustainable agriculture knowledge is produced and shared (Ekbia and Evans, 2009; Nelson and Coe, 2014). Thus, ‘Information’ is essential to make informed decisions. Farmers have the right to have the timely information with which they can build the capacity to adapt or mitigate the negative impacts of climate change. Lack of awareness makes adapting to the risks of climate change by switching to new climate-smart agricultural methods difficult (Ibrahim, 2017).

Furthermore, recent studies present a promising perspective of information and communication technologies (ICT) in the agriculture sector (Fujimoto et al., 2009). However, a significant number of farms still operate out of internet and mobile telephony coverage. Lokuge et al. (2016) argue adoption and diffusion of ICT in the agriculture sector has been slow due to several factors including low maturity of ICT infrastructure in rural areas where farms are located; low levels of ICT acceptance by stakeholders who are less ICT savvy; lack of specialized systems developed by leading commercial software vendors; reluctance of the ICT consulting companies and reluctance to invest given the high cost of ICT implementations (Aubert et al., 2012; Cox, 2002).

The environmental and social issues of the agriculture sector are usually associated with large farms and industrial-scale production. Nevertheless, a substantial part of food production still happens in small farms. Nunes et al. (2014) argue that while individually the environmental impact of small farms might be imperceptible; collectively they have a significant environmental impact. Thus, it becomes necessary to investigate how effective communication sources can lead to better environmental performance in small farms.

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