Understanding decision processes in becoming a fee-for-hire service provider: a case study on direct seeded rice in Bihar, India
While Direct Seeded Rice (DSR) has numerous potential benefits to smallholder farmers in the Eastern Gangetic Plains of South Asia, it’s out-scaling has been limited by both a lack of demand by farmers and limited supply of DSR services by machinery owners. This contrasts with the comparatively more rapid scaling of zero tillage wheat in the region. This trend is yet to be fully explored, particularly when focus has been placed almost exclusively on understanding DSR adoption though the lens of farm-level agronomic, economic and environmental performance. Given that limited DSR service provision is likely to be governed outside of these considerations, this study explores with zero tillage drill owners the decision processes they apply in deciding how to use their zero tillage drills. Respondents highlight a complex web of interrelated considerations that highlight the additional complexities of DSR as compared to existing practices. Using a novel ‘Decision-making Dartboard’ qualitative framework, these complexities are unpacked and a set of potential changes to the assumed theory of change for DSR scaling are identified, including considerations for selection of potential DSR service providers and responsibilities for promotion and extension of DSR to overcome the prevalent negative perceptions of DSR held broadly across the communities explored. The proposed framework and analysis process are also potentially useful for exploration of other farmer decision making processes more broadly.