New study suggests municipalities that would benefit most from training on Direct Planting System

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil – Brazilian farmers have been slow to adopt a technique, called the Direct Planting System, which produces higher crop yields at lower costs and is environmentally friendlier than traditional farming methods. A new study by Climate Policy Initiative (CPI) points to reasons for this low adoption, showing that Brazil’s soil diversity has been a significant barrier to the spread of the system among farmers. The study suggests that targeting training in areas of low adoption and high soil similarity can increase adoption of this technique cost-effectively.

Through empirical analysis, the study, summarized in the Executive Summary “High Productivity Agricultural Techniques in Brazil: Adoption Barriers and Potential Solutions,” shows that social learning — i.e. farmers learning new methods from their neighbors and peers — plays a major role in the spread of the Direct Planting System. Further, in any given municipality in Brazil, similarities or dissimilarities in soil composition directly affect social learning, and thus, uptake of the technology: The more similar the soil within a municipality, the easier the spread of social learning.

In 2010, the Brazilian Government implemented the Agricultura de Baixo Carbono program (ABC – Low-Carbon Agriculture) to provide subsidized rural credit to farmers for implementation of the Direct Planting System. However, low-cost credit cannot drive Direct Planting System expansion if non-financial barriers to adoption such as learning are significant, as this new analysis suggests.

CPI recommends a temporary training program, moving across municipalities over time, to support the initial spread of knowledge and adoption. Further, the study identifies municipalities that would most benefit from training. These municipalities have high soil similarity and low adoption levels and thus, training could raise them to levels where social learning can take place more easily.

“The Direct Planting System is considered one of the most important developments in agriculture in the past decades, and its use benefits both farmers and the public. Our analysis shows that there are low-cost ways to expand adoption of this system,” said Juliano Assunção, director of CPI’s Brazil operations and professor at the Department of Economics at the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro (PUC-Rio).

For more information, and to download the report, visit CPI will also host a webinar about this report on December 17; attendees can register on the CPI website.

Climate Policy Initiative is a team of analysts and advisors that works to improve the most important energy and land use policies around the world, with a particular focus on finance. An independent organization supported in part by a grant from the Open Society Foundations, CPI has offices and programs in Brazil, China, Europe, India, Indonesia, and the United States.


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