Diffusion and Adoption of Organic Farming in the Southern Spanish Olive Groves

  • Parra-Lopez C
  • De-Haro-Giménez T
  • Calatrava-Requena J
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In this article, relevant mechanisms that have conditioned the diffusion/adoption process of organic farming (OF) in the main organic olive-growing zones of Andalusia, the world’s leading olive-producing region located in the south of Spain, have been analyzed mainly within the framework of the Rogers’ diffusion of innovations theory. Results point out that the current diffusion model has been exhausted and, therefore, should be revised, if this form of sustainable agriculture is to spread any further. After the first stage of official promotion of organic techniques in a concrete zone of Andalusia, an important intraregional “contagion” among farmers has been detected, whereas external to the agricultural systems influences–administration, scientists, extensionists, and so on–seem not be very important up to the present time. The more determined involvement of these agents in the development and promotion of OF would supplement and reinforce the underlying mechanisms of diffusion and would probably strengthen the spreading of OF in the near future. When new policies are being drawn up in this sector, it is crucial to bear in mind that the process of diffusion/adoption of OF in the olive groves of Andalusia has many characteristics in common with other innovations but also many peculiarities. Moreover, the moment of adoption of OF, in general, is fundamentally related to the region the farms and farmers belong to and to a lesser degree to the characteristics of the farmers and farms. In this sense, early adopters have similar socioeconomic characteristics to late adopters. However, some differences between early and late adopters have been detected: the first ones have less risk aversion, have more contact with informal sources of information, have a more favorable opinion about organic agriculture and, curiously enough, are more dependent and with less experience on agriculture. One important peculiarity of OF is related to its environmental nature: especially for early adopters, the possible economic advantages and risks ofOFare not as important for them as other “externalities” associated with OF, such as respecting the environment and obtaining healthy products. Another specificity is the special characteristics of the olive-growing social systems: organic agriculture has spread most up to now in the most marginal and underprivileged zones, with older individuals as potential adopters who have limited contact with traditional sources of information, are fairly uncosmopolitan and have little education, are more motivated by environmental than economic reasons, and compared with the farmers of the other zones are more guided by their own practical experience and contact with informal information networks.

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  • Carlos Parra-Lopez

  • Tomás De-Haro-Giménez

  • Javier Calatrava-Requena

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