Social Networks and the Diffusion of Information and Technology in a Biofortification Program in Uganda

Last updated September 2009
Scott McNiven

I will study the diffusion of a biofortified crop through social networks and the impact on maternal and child health. With the goal of reducing micronutrient deficiencies, biofortification programs encourage farm households to adopt newly bred crop varieties that are denser in the deficient micronutrients. Biofortification programs are being tested in poor rural areas with weak formal product markets, so the crop and information about it diffuse by word of mouth through social networks. Thus, the architecture of social networks and strength of social norms like altruism, trust, and reciprocity will influence how rapidly, to where, and to whom the technology diffuses. By leveraging an existing prospective randomized controlled trial of a biofortified sweet potato in Uganda, I intend to estimate the impact both of the program and of social networks and norms on child and maternal health and on crop adoption. Additional data collection will help estimate the spatial and temporal extent of crop and nutrition knowledge diffusion and the role of social networks therein.

Contact Information:
Scott McNiven,, International Food Policy Research Institute