Previous studies on innovation in agriculture focus mainly on identifying observable and resource related deprivation or ‘external’ constraints. Yet, related literature suggests that ‘internal’ constraints, such as lack of aspirations, could reinforce external constraints and this may lead to a self-sustaining trap of poverty and lack of proactive behavior. Since both aspirations and innovations are future oriented they are likely to be intimately linked. Aspirations are motivators which can enhance innovations. On the other hand, aspirations are also affected by one’s level of achievement implying that aspirations and innovations are simultaneously determined. To identify the effect of aspirations on adoption of agricultural innovations, we conduct both plot level and household level analysis using a purposely collected data from sample households in rural Ethiopia. Using econometric strategies that account for the endogenous nature of the variable of interest, we find that low aspirations (and having very-narrow/wide aspirations gap) are strongly associated with low innovativeness of farm households and low adoption of innovation products such as improved seed, and low involvement in row-planting and sustainable natural resource management practices. Results suggest that the effect of aspirations is stronger on the intensity of use of innovations (e.g. fertilizer use per hectare of land) than its effect on access to or use of individual innovations if those innovations are widely adopted in the study areas. We also find other internal factors such as self-esteem, internal locus of control, trust in others, subjective wellbeing, and perception on causes of poverty to be strongly correlated with aspirations and expectations.


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