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The Process and Consequences of the Diffusion of Avocado and Drumstick Trees into the Lives of Rural Women in Hazaribag, India after an Agricultural and Nutrition Training Program
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The rural poor of Hazaribag suffer from vitamin A and iron deficiencies from meals containing rice (200-400g) and limited (25-50g) slow-cooked vegetables with potatoes. This causes undernourishment in 50% of children and 40% of women. The two main causes are lack of access to nutritious foods, and lack of knowledge about nutrition. Through extension, 24 women were taught and quantitatively assessed about growing avocado and drumstick trees, and proper nutrition. Participants were monitored for four months using persistent observation to qualitatively evaluate the adoption process of four behaviors (eating and feeding avocados to children; increasing consumption of drumstick leaves/pods; caring for grafted avocado trees, and planting avocado seeds) and their consequences. From the assessment of knowledge gained and retained, results indicate a statistically significant difference among all test scores, T1 and T2 (p = .001, t = -5.58), T1 and T3 (p = .001, t = -6.98), T2 and T3 (p = .038, t = -2.20), and T4 perceptions of knowledge before/after training (p = .001, t = -16.32). Qualitative studies show the women did adopt a majority of the behaviors, with 100% eating or feeding avocados to children; 60% eating more drumstick leaves/pods; 90% caring for avocado trees and 50% planting seeds. A number of consequences were associated with the adoption of the behaviors. Many of the women reported perceptions of improved health and expressed that children were falling sick less often due to the avocados and drumstick leaves/pods. The MUAC test showed that children who ate avocados weekly had increases in their mid-upper-arm circumference. And, people outside the study became interested in avocados because the participants shared their new knowledge. Most extension programs result in knowledge gains, but this study showed that with continued engagement and interaction, the participants were able to retain and gain additional knowledge about agriculture and proper nutrition. From the data collected, it is clear that the women learned and adopted the behaviors to improve their nutrition resulting in positive changes. Ultimately, there is a connection between extension, knowledge gains, and behavior adoption. This could be a powerful tool to address malnutrition in Hazaribag.
Luckett, Meghan (2013). The Process and Consequences of the Diffusion of Avocado and Drumstick Trees into the Lives of Rural Women in Hazaribag, India after an Agricultural and Nutrition Training Program. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from