Why Don’t More Farmers Go Organic? Using A Stakeholder-Informed Exploratory Agent-Based Model to Represent the Dynamics of Farming Practices in the Philippines
In spite of a growing interest in organic agriculture; there has been relatively little research on why farmers might choose to adopt organic methods, particularly in the developing world. To address this shortcoming, we developed an exploratory agent-based model depicting Philippine smallholder farmer decisions to implement organic techniques in rice paddy systems. Our modeling exercise was novel in its combination of three characteristics: first, agent rules were based on focus group data collected in the system of study. Second, a social network structure was built into the model. Third, we utilized variance-based sensitivity analysis to quantify model outcome variability, identify influential drivers, and suggest ways in which further modeling efforts could be focused and simplified. The model results indicated an upper limit on the number of farmers adopting organic methods. The speed of information spread through the social network; crop yields; and the size of a farmer’s plot were highly influential in determining agents’ adoption rates. The results of this stylized model indicate that rates of organic farming adoption are highly sensitive to the yield drop after switchover to organic techniques, and to the speed of information spread through existing social networks. Further research and model development should focus on these system characteristics.