Pest Diffusion, Cooperation and Social Networks in Small-Scale Agriculture in Honduras by Cristina Chiarella


May 10, 2021

13h on teams

Invasive pest infestations have important impacts on agricultural yields and are projected to increase in the face of global warming. This study investigates the effects of encouraging individual and collective pest management practices on crop losses. We answer three questions: 1) which type of first-informed farmers are most effective at disseminating invasive species management practices, 2) how communication is affected by social and spatial dynamics, and 3) the effect of individual and collective management on mitigating crop losses. To answer such questions, we conduct an experiment in 110 communities of rural Honduras. We train three key farmers per community on how to identify, control, and collectively manage infestations. A year later, we find important effects of utilizing the disseminated pest management practices on mitigating crop losses. Farmers in areas with high infestation levels where the training took place have a significantly lower probability of suffering crop losses, relative to areas where there was no training. This result is entirely driven by the joint impact of individual and collective adoption. We are also able to show that in the same areas, communication, learning and adoption of the pest management practices significantly increased as a result of the intervention. In general, communication works best when farmers are socially connected and when there is high pest contagion probability. Our results show the potential of cooperative management for crop loss mitigation and suggest a cost-effective way for technology dissemination.