1994 Volume 67 Issue 9 Pages 619-637
Geographers, economists, social scientists and other researchers in various study domains have been attracted to the topic of diffusion of agricultural innovations. In recent decades, many agricultur-al innovations are taking place and their diffusion is more rapid than ever before. This causes difficul-ty in specifying the patterns and processes of the diffusion of agricultural innovations among re-gions and farmers. The present study attempts to identify the diffusion processes of a newly intro-duced strawberry variety, Nyoho, at both region and community levels in Tochigi prefecture.
Nyoho, which was developed by Tochigi Prefectural Agricultural Experiment Station in 1982, is a highly market-oriented variety. Without any special treatment, the new variety enables farmers to ship earlier than other previous varieties, especially before December when strawberry prices are the highest. In addition, Nyoho has higher quality than the other varieties : glossy scarlet color, hard flesh, and sweet flavor. Those characteristics gave farmers the incentive to plant the new variety in-stead of the previous varieties.
In Tochigi prefecture, Nyoho was largely introduced in 1984 and had completely replaced the other varieties in six years. One of the reasons for the rapid diffusion of Nyoho is that local governments and agricultural cooperatives encouraged farmers to introduce the new variety through lectures and demonstrations of experimental fields. As a result, most farmers became aware of Nyoho in the very early period of its diffusion.
Nyoho also spread widely to other strawberry production areas in Japan, except for the Kyushu Region, where another variety, Toyonoka, dominates. Nyoho was immediately accepted in 1985 in the main strawberry production areas of the Kanto and Tokai Regions. At present, the variety shares the greatest portion of acreage in those strawberry production areas.
Because it is not possible for farmers to replace previous varieties with Nyoho all at once at the com-munity level, the introduction and adoption stages are separately analyzed in this study. The introduc-tion stage is defined as the period when farmers begin to cultivate Nyoho in a part of their strawber-ry fields. The adoption stage is defined as the period when farmers completely replace the preceding varieties with Nyoho. In the Mikuriya and Tsukuba districts of Ashikaga city, the Tochigi Agricultur-al Experiment Station or the agricultural extension station recruited some innovative farmers to plant experimental fields with Nyoho. Those farmers are considered to be innovators in the diffusion process. They were followed by early introducers who had observed the innovators' trial closely. In gen-eral, the innovators and early introducers had a great deal of experience in strawberry cultivation and are operating a relative large acreage of strawberries even today. In addition, they managed their farms with large numbers of farm workers and emphasized the position of strawberry produc-tion within their farm management. It is also worth noting that the innovators and early introducers had a longer trial-to-adoption period than later introducers of Nyoho.
In the Mikuriya and Tsukuba districts, we observed differences in the rate of adoption of Nyoho in dif-ferent communities. Those differences may be explained by two factors: the presence or absence of in-novators in each community, and close communication among farmers in the early period of the diffu-sion. It might be difficult, however, to draw conclusions about neighborhood effects on the diffusion process of Nyoho.