Despite various interventions, smallholder dairy farming in large parts of the tropics remain characterised by low productivity, restricted market participation, and viability challenges. The problem lies in the unavailability, low adoption rates and non-adoption of available improved smallholder dairying technologies. Using Rusitu and Gokwe smallholder dairy projects in Zimbabwe as a case study, this paper explored broad global issues of farmer segmentation, characteristics of the different farmer segments or innovation domains, the domains’ influence on technology adoption patterns, and the impact of technology adoption on smallholder dairy development. Through a survey of 227 households and the use of a multivariate analysis approach, Principal Component Analysis identified eight principal components, while follow-up analysis using Cluster Analysis identified five distinct innovation domains. These innovation domains included smallholder dairy producers (61.6% of the surveyed households), smallholder dairy heirs (15.9%), new and emergent producers (4.6%), smallholder dairy pioneers (2.0%), and commercial and market-oriented producers (15.9%). The paper established that innovation domains with higher levels of participation in smallholder dairy innovation platforms had higher rates of dairy technology adoption. The net effects have higher estimated annual dairy incomes, improved total household incomes, and the development of smallholder dairy enterprises. This study provides valuable contributions in advancing the theories and practice of innovation, agricultural research and advisory services.
Key words: Agricultural research, agricultural advisory services, cluster analysis, innovation platforms, principal component analysis.
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