Agrarian communities in different regions develop diverse coping strategies to address the environmental changes they face. In this work, we test how to stimulate farmers’ social learning across diverse regions to promote informed responses to soil degradation. We invited 117 randomly selected members of 16 randomly selected Sumatran communities to three 3-day networking and training events in regions with diverse socio-environmental histories. One event was held in the respondents’ remote rural district (Tanggamus), the second was held in a more densely populated region on Sumatra Island (Kalianda), and the third was held in a heavily populated region on Java Island (Garut and Ciamis). Eighteen months later, we surveyed the information-sharing networks and agricultural practices of 370 members of these communities. The participants had become popular sources of agricultural advice, but the strength of this impact depended on the region in which their networking intervention was conducted. The participants in the event on Java had become the most central members of their communities. Although all the participants received the same formal information, those who interacted with the farmers in a region with the longest history of population pressure and land degradation management were more likely to adopt the recommended practices. The participants in this intervention doubled their odds of adopting organic fertilizers compared with those who networked only with peers in their local environment. Environmental memory of coping with change can be shared between regions through social learning, which can be stimulated by simple interventions.
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