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Adoption and diffusion of technical capacity-building innovations by small-scale artisanal fishers in Fiji

Tracy MacKeracher, National Marine Science Centre, Southern Cross University, Coffs Harbour, New South Wales, Australia; Centre for Tropical Water and Aquatic Ecosystem Research, James Cook University, Townsville, Queensland, Australia
Simon J. Foale, College of Arts, Society and Education, James Cook University, Townsville, Queensland, Australia
Georgina G. Gurney, Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, James Cook University, Townsville, Queensland, Australia
Steven W. Purcell, National Marine Science Centre, Southern Cross University, Coffs Harbour, New South Wales, Australia


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Adoption of innovations by farmers and fishers can depend on factors specific to both individuals and their social contexts. Research on the adoption and diffusion of innovations promoted through capacity-building training can provide lessons to support the design and implementation of future development programs. We assess the adoption, diffusion, and outcomes of a livelihoods training program focused on improving postharvest handling and processing of sea cucumbers in 29 coastal villages in Fiji. One year after delivery of the training program, we conducted interviews with sea cucumber fishers (n = 278) and commercial processors (n = 12), as well as focus group discussions (n = 27) with women to examine: (1) which modes of training (training video, manual, and workshops) were most useful; (2) individual- and community-scale characteristics related to adoption and knowledge sharing; (3) whether training produced long-term changes in processing methods used by fishers; and (4) perceived barriers to adoption. Among fishers who were exposed to two or more modes of training (n = 97), most (65%) reported the workshop and manual to be equally useful. Knowledge about the improved methods was shared by 71% of trained fishers and occurred more frequently among women (80%) than men (64%). Trained fishers used shorter, less variable first cooking durations than untrained fishers, and differences were significant for two of six sea cucumber species groups. Adoption and knowledge sharing was not significantly related to the multiscale characteristics examined (age, gender, education, resource dependence, village population size, market access). Some fishers could not access salt for processing, and others were constrained by patron-client relationships. Our study shows that technical capacity-building can benefit from complementary training modes, however other constraints on adoption (e.g., access to materials, patron-client relationships) may need to be addressed to achieve the full benefits of training programs.

Key words

capacity-building; diffusion of innovations; gender; sea cucumbers; small-scale fisheries

Copyright © 2019 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article is under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. You may share and adapt the work for noncommercial purposes provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087