Smallholder farmers' information behavior differs for organic versus conventional pest management strategies: A qualitative study in Uganda

Diemer, Nikola; Staudacher, Philipp; Atuhaire, Aggrey; Fuhrimann, Samuel; Inauen, Jennifer (2020). Smallholder farmers' information behavior differs for organic versus conventional pest management strategies: A qualitative study in Uganda. Journal of cleaner production, 257, p. 120465. Elsevier 10.1016/j.jclepro.2020.120465

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Conventional pesticides are associated with numerous human and environmental health risks. Nevertheless, an increasing number of smallholder farmers in low- and middle-income countries are using conventional pesticides. Adopting safer pest management requires farmers to obtain new information. However, little is known how farmers develop an information need, seek, and use pest management related information, and whether this process differs for organic and conventional pest management strategies. In this qualitative study, we investigated pest-related information behavior in depth, from farmers’ own perspective. Using an ethnographic approach, we conducted 46 semi-structured interviews, 15 on-farm observations and 302 structured questionnaire interviews with farmers in Wakiso District, Uganda, in 2017. Our results indicated that farmers develop information needs when adopting new farming practices, or when presented with disruptive information (e.g. when new pests emerged). This prompted farmers to seek information actively, or they received passive information. Whether farmers used the new information depended on successful trial of the new pest management strategy, and on the credibility of the source. Most revealing, our results suggested important differences in information behavior between conventional and organic pest management strategies. Sources of information for conventional pesticides were well-integrated into farmers’ daily lives and comprised pesticide dealers and fellow farmers. Conversely, information on organic strategies was provided through external sources (e.g. NGOs), and was not available at times when farmers developed an information need. Our results imply that farmers are most likely receptive to organic pest management information at times when they develop an information need (e.g. when encountering a new pest). To promote safer pest management, information about organic and integrated pest management should be made continuously available in farmers’ lives. Furthermore, we recommend leveraging established information channels (e.g. dealers) among pesticide users to promote safer use practices.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


07 Faculty of Human Sciences > Institute of Psychology
07 Faculty of Human Sciences > Institute of Psychology > Psychological and Behavioral Health

UniBE Contributor:

Inauen, Jennifer


100 Philosophy > 150 Psychology
600 Technology > 610 Medicine & health








Salome Irina Rahel Bötschi

Date Deposited:

03 Jul 2020 15:16

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 15:37

Publisher DOI:





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