Social learning as a catalyst for building resilience among smallholder farmers: Exploring its role in promoting transformations

Morgane Batkai*, Jean Hugé, Dave Huitema, Janjaap Semeijn, Wim Lambrechts, Jetse Stoorvogel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Building resilient agricultural systems in the face of the climate crisis requires transformative action, yet progress has remained slow. The current, dominant food system remains a huge contributor to the climate crisis and is itself vulnerable to its effects, making transformations towards resilience a complex and multifaceted challenge. In response, social learning is emer-ging as a promising mechanism for inspiring transformations by recogniz-ing the central role of learning in building pathways towards resilience. We conducted a systematic literature review to examine this connection between social learning and transformations among smallholder farmers, addressing three research areas: (1) the factors influencing social learning processes ; (2) social learning outcomes; and (3) the extent to which social learning promote transformations . The review reveals many underlying positive assumptions about the role of social learning in transformations , but there remains little insight as to how or why learning leads to the adoption of transformative practices. We also find that while social learning has a positive impact on participants’ understanding of climate-related issues and resilient agricultural practices, sustained adoption of transforma-tive actions remains a challenge. Participatory on-farm demonstrations and addressing perceived risks associated with making changes can increase the likelihood of adopting transformative action. Drawing on these findings, we propose a conceptual framework for promoting the adoption of transfor-mative actions that take into account differences in socio-economic con-texts. This study highlights the crucial role of social learning in building resilience and provides insights to inform future research in this field.
Original languageEnglish
Article number2278906
Number of pages34
JournalNJAS: Impact in Agricultural and Life Sciences
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2023


  • Social learning
  • resilience
  • transformation
  • smallholder farmers
  • climate change


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