How the characteristics of innovations impact their adoption: An exploration of climate-smart agricultural innovations in South Africa

Mmapatla Precious Senyolo, Thomas B. Long*, Vincent Blok, Onno Omta

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

106 Citations (Scopus)


Climate change threatens agricultural production and the food security of developing countries in complex ways that demand environmentally friendly innovations. Climate-smart agriculture provides a response to climate change whilst enhancing livelihood of farmers. Climate-smart agricultural technological innovations at farm level have the potential to address climate-related challenges. However, inadequate adoption of these technologies remains a problem. This paper identifies available climate-smart agricultural technological innovations in South Africa and explores their characteristics and context of use using an exploratory research approach. An overview of climate change risks and variability in South Africa and a framework to classify the technological innovations is established based on a literature review. Interviews with expert stakeholders are used to characterise and collect information on available technologies. Results indicate that Conservation Agriculture, Rainwater Harvesting and Seed Varieties that are Drought Tolerant and Early Maturing may be the most suited technologies for climate-smart agriculture in South Africa, particularly for smallholder farmers. However, high initial investment costs, additional labour requirements and management intensity associated with conservation agriculture and rainwater harvesting may pose problems within the South African context. Drought Tolerant and Early Maturing Seed Varieties were noted as less costly and less management intensive, creating better prospects for adoption. This study serves as an initial assessment through the exploration of the available climate-smart agricultural technologies in South Africa. This is essential given that the agricultural sector is faced with the dilemma of responding to climate change related challenges whilst increasing the productivity of farmers.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3825-3840
JournalJournal of Cleaner Production
Early online date6 Jun 2017
Publication statusPublished - 20 Jan 2018


  • Adoption
  • Agriculture
  • Climate-smart agriculture
  • Farmers
  • South Africa
  • Technological innovations


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