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Risks, resources and reason: understanding smallholder decisions around farming system interventions in Eastern Indonesia
Adoption of new cattle management practices by Indonesian smallholders occurs less as a ‘technology transfer’ in the classical sense but rather as a series of conscious decisions by farming households weighing risks and resources as well as matching innovations to livelihood strategies. This paper uncovers the context of decisions and communication of innovations by way of social networks. The research looks at two geographically distinct cases where new cattle management practices have been introduced. We apply the lens of a common sense framework initially introduced by Clifford Geertz. Smallholder decisions are analysed within a socio-cultural context and a particular set of resources, risks and livelihood objectives. We show that the respective value placed on land, cattle and food security is central to adoption of new cattle management techniques. Far from accepting everything novel, smallholders are selective and willing to make changes to their farming system if they do not conflict with livelihood strategies. Innovations are communicated through a range of existing social networks and are either matched to existing livelihood strategies or perceived as stepping-stones out of agriculture.