Knowledge for Development

Commissioned articles 2012-2013-2014

Investing in Agricultural Innovation: A Market Economy Perspective (Part 1)

In the first lead article, Roseboom explores how the adoption of a market economy perspective is affecting/ redefining the role of government in agricultural innovation. He focuses on two key questions that policymakers investing in agricultural innovation are struggling with in a market economy, namely: (i) what should be the role of government and how much should be invested in agricultural research, extension and other innovation stimulating measures and; what is the optimal level of public and private investment? According to Roseboom, in an ‘ideal’ market economy, the business enterprise sector takes care of its own innovation activities and the government only plays an enabling and stimulating role by: (i) supporting education and basic research; (ii) creating the right incentives for the private sector to invest in innovation e.g. IPR and anti-trust policies and regulations; and (iii) coordinating the country’s innovation capacity strategically. He suggests that market failure should be eliminated or at least reduced and the responsibility for agricultural innovation handed over to the economic actors in agriculture but notes that this process does not happen overnight.


The optimal level of investment in agricultural innovation (Part 2)

Roseboom notes that although benchmarking is the most common way of evaluating the level of government investment in agricultural innovation, it is a rather poor tool because it lacks the theoretical underpinning and tends to reinforce the status quo. For example, many economists have argued that there is serious underinvestment in agricultural innovation based on ex post rate of return studies of agricultural research and extension projects. He suggests that using a three step approach based on a standard cost-benefit analysis technique to calculate the expected rate or return (ERR), provides the theoretical answer for establishing the optimal level of investment in agricultural innovation. However, such a rational economic approach is not common practice for investing in agricultural innovation projects either in developing or developed countries. The size of the optimal investment in agricultural innovation and as such the overall productivity depends on the country’s level of economic development, its agricultural innovation capacity and various structural factors such as the level of technological capacity and risk and uncertainty.


Optimizing Public and Private Investments in Agricultural Innovations: Policy Implications (Part 3)

In the final lead article, Roseboom explores the policy implications of the various options for optimizing public and private sector investments in agricultural innovation. In a market economy, the responsibility for agricultural innovation lies principally with the private sector and the public role is very limited. It is only when markets fail that the government should step in; either by trying to resolve the failure or by assuming responsibility for certain agricultural innovation activities. He opines that it is important to understand the cause and depth of the market failure in terms of horizontal and vertical spill over losses to be able to resolve or moderate it. These losses seriously undermine the expected profitability of private investment in agricultural innovation in general and hence have a negative impact on the economically optimal volume of investments. He recommends differentiated support strategies and developments in public management namely; performance-based budgeting, competitive funding schemes and greater involvement of the ultimate beneficiaries for ensuring that available public resources are invested in the most promising agricultural innovation opportunities.


Strategic repositioning of agrobiodiversity in the horticultural sector for sustainable development

(Keynote paper, finals of the ‘Women in Science’ competition)Horticultural biodiversity which was once an integral part of African diets should have been part of the celebrations of the 2010 International Year of Biodiversity. However, with the introduction of exotic temperate crops, indigenous green vegetables lost popularity in Africa and are regarded mostly as ‘weeds’ or ‘poor man’s food’. With over 50% of the African population living below the poverty line, resulting in malnutrition and poor health, there is need for a paradigm shift in food production patterns to harness the nutrition and economic potential of indigenous vegetables and fruits. Agrobiodiversity has a crucial part to play in revolutionalising the horticultural sector for food security, nutrition, income and sustainable development in Africa. This article outlines strategies and recommendations that could be used to raise the status of agrobiodiversity in the continent.Article taken from the 2011 CTA/FARA publication ‘Agricultural Innovations for Sustainable Development’ Volume 3, Issue 2.


Development of Endiisa Decision Support Tool for improved feeding of dairy cattle in Uganda

(First prize, ‘Women in Science’ competition)Efforts to improve livestock feeding in Uganda have had great strides in identifying nutritious feed resources for cattle. These include pasture grasses and legumes, leguminous shrubs and multipurpose trees, crop residues and agro-industrial by-products. Despite knowledge and the use of appropriate feed resources, milk production of dairy farms has remained low (2 to 5 L per cow per day). The poor performance indicates a gap in dissemination of knowledge to farmers. One major gap identified was that farmers did not know the quantities of feed that would adequately meet the nutritional requirements of their animals. This study demonstrates the use of decision-support tools (DST) in meeting such challenges. It provides information on low status of dairy cattle feeding. In conclusion, the DST that was developed and tested led to improved cattle feeding and increased milk production by 24%. The tool is available on the website of the Uganda National Agricultural Research Organisation (NARO-Uganda), and is recommended for use by farmers, researchers, trainers and policy-makers.Article taken from the 2011 CTA/FARA publication ‘Agricultural Innovations for Sustainable Development’ Volume 3, Issue 2.


Understanding past, present and future climate changes from East to West Africa

(Keynote paper, finals of the ‘Young Professionals in Science’ competition)Climate change affects all sectors of society at local, regional and continental scales, but available evidence is not sufficient to guide policies. Unravelling past climatic events is essential if we are to understand the present and to derive reliable scenarios of future climate change. Thus interdisciplinary and international collaborations are needed to extend research frontiers and to develop regional and sub-regional climate models at a scale relevant for decision-makers. Tree rings and stable isotopes in tree rings provide evidence of past climate variability. Given the short instrumental climate records that exist in Africa, dendrochronology adds an essential longer-term perspective on climate change and variability and on the adaptation of agroforestry landscapes and forest ecosystems. Tree-ring analyses were conducted as part of three independently established international research collaborations with different partner institutes in Germany and Africa. Stable carbon and oxygen isotopes in tree rings of Sclerocarya birrea from the Sahel region (Burkina Faso) showed strong climatic signals. Tree-ring chronologies spanning more than 100 years are under development for Burkina Faso and Tanzania. The ongoing project in Munessa Forest, Ethiopia may result in chronologies of more than 350 years. Finally, the tree-ring series developed in the three projects will be combined to establish large-scale correlation patterns between tree growth and sea-surface temperatures in order to explore continent-wide climate teleconnections. In order to have representative data sets and draw continent-wide recommendations, however, there is a need to extend the study to other parts of Africa.Article taken from the 2011 CTA/FARA publication ‘Agricultural Innovations for Sustainable Development’ Volume 3, Issue 2.


Prices of raw materials, budgetary earnings and economic growth: A case study of Côte d’Ivoire

(First Prize, ‘Young Professionals in Science’ competition)Côte d’Ivoire contributes to global trade through a limited range of products including cocoa, coffee, timber and oil. According to statistics on external trade, these few products have accounted for more than half of the value of exports since the attainment of independence. Like the majority of Sub-Saharan African countries, Côte d’Ivoire is a ‘price taker’. For this reason, it does not wield any control over prices of its exports or imports. Furthermore, its exports are quoted in foreign currency and it has no control over the exchange rate, which affects the export earnings quoted in national currency. It therefore seems that Côte d’Ivoire’s dependence on raw materials makes the country vulnerable. This study evaluates the impact of the fluctuation of international prices of raw material on the variability of the gross domestic product (GDP) in Côte d’Ivoire. The specific objective was to analyse the Ivorian export structure in order to highlight the importance of raw materials in export earnings; to analyse the coffee and cocoa sectors, the oil sector and stakeholders; to evaluate the influence of price fluctuations on revenue from entry-point taxation; to highlight the impact of the variation of this revenue on Ivorian economic growth. Results illustrate the need for the continuation of efforts aimed at diversifying the economy, and encouraging the setting up of an observatory, in order to predict and weather the various shocks.Article taken from the 2011 CTA/FARA publication ‘Agricultural Innovations for Sustainable Development’ Volume 3, Issue 2.


CTA-ISRA ASTI system case study report: Rice industry in the Senegal River Valley

This report is based on an analysis of the agricultural science, technology and innovation (ASTI) system using the rice industry in Senegal´s River Valley as a case study. It applies the innovation systems approach using a standardized methodological framework. The methodology included: (1) an analysis of the vision and policies underlying innovations in the rice industry; (2) identification and mapping of the different players and an evaluation of their practices, competencies and interactions and; (3) identification of the constraints and achievements in generating and using innovations in the industry. The study concludes that production improvements and innovations in the rice sector require a combination of several closely interlinked factors ranging from political vision to actors´ behaviour. There is room for improving industry performance e.g. equipping more farmland, increasing water availability, increasing yields and improving rice quality. Some of the recommendations include: (1) the establishment of a sustainable funding system for research (e.g. tax on agricultural imports); (2) research on available technologies and agricultural equipment that can be adapted and easily adopted at relatively low costs; (3) annualising credit schemes to ensure adequate financing for agricultural activities; (4) identifying short- and medium-term credit lines and mechanisms to finance hydro-agricultural equipment and facilities; (5) eliminating taxes on agricultural machines and equipment, and their spare parts; (6) promoting and facilitating synergy among institutions in order to better meet demands for innovations.


CTA-University of Zambia ASTI system case study report: Dairy industry in Zambia

This case study aimed at assessing the status of the dairy sub sector in Zambia using an innovation system approach. Efforts made by the Zambian government to nationalise milk production by favouring local producers through subsidies and price control, saw the departure of foreign producers from the Zambian dairy sector. Since then, the country has been producing milk below its optimum capacity. The significant absence of extension services despite efforts by NGOs to train farmers in dairy management is identified as one of the factors adversely affecting the sector. Recommendations for improving the industry include: (1) improving information sharing and interaction among stakeholders to meet set goals and objectives; (2) establishment of dairy breeding centres; (3) review of extension services and the privatization of the veterinary services; (4) reinforcement of capacity building programmes through training in dairy management techniques; (5) promoting the cultivation of pasture and fodder crops for dairy animals; (6) increasing funding to research institutions and (7) development of innovative dairy products to increase milk consumption in Zambia.


Technology development and women’s empowerment: The case of the forage chopper for smallholder dairy farmers in Uganda

In Uganda as well as in many other countries, labour-saving tools have been advocated as important in increasing productivity, and improving the quality of life. Women have been specifically targeted because they are seen as central to overcoming rural poverty. Engineers have always assumed that by considering women in technology development and dissemination processes, this will guarantee use of the labour saving tools and consequently reduce time spent on agriculture related activities. However, existing processes which focus on the technology and the problem it is intended to solve, without necessarily giving women a role in their development, have little chance of succeeding. This paper demonstrates how women can be incorporated in reshaping technological solutions. The argument is made that an integrated approach that is grounded not only in engineering but also in the sociology of gender, and insights from Science and Technology Studies (STS) is needed, if labour saving tools are to be used for women’s empowerment.


Research and governance in the fisheries value chain: Lessons from CARICOM

Although fisheries, mainly small-scale as well as a few industrial size operations, contribute only a small percent to gross domestic product in most Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries: they are important for food security, livelihoods, culture and tourism among other economic activities. In many fisheries value chains, postharvest processing is minimal and mainly fresh chilled and frozen seafood products are supplied to domestic and premium export markets. Ecosystem and economic contexts place these value chains within the arena of governance for socio-economic development. However, social-ecological interactions within fisheries, and between fisheries and other sectors, are complex and adaptive. In this article, Patrick McConney explores the increasing convergence of value chains and governance issues which are expanded to include additional elements of institutional analysis as well as civil society and power dynamics. He argues that there needs to be a stronger connection between value chains and the governance of socio-ecological systems from a network perspective. This would clearly show that fisheries value chains are more than financial and commodity transactions as they are linked to ecosystem health and the well-being of human communities. What lessons can be learned and what are the future directions for research and development are critical questions. Drawing on examples of CARICOM fisheries value chains, one answer is that enabling fisheries policies are needed. Responses from CARICOM fisherfolk organizations are also highlighted.


Cassava Stem Multiplication Technology: a Viable Option for Industry Development?

The strategic position of cassava in the food and farming systems of millions of rural households, especially in Africa, is highlighted. Key issues in cassava agronomy, especially regarding planting materials and productivity per unit area are discussed. The development of improved varieties as well as status and constraints in the cassava seed distribution system in Nigeria are emphasised. Also, development of the technology of rapid multiplication of improved cassava varieties is discussed with special regard to reasons for and processes of the technology’s use by farmers. A case study of the adoption and competence of use among farmers in a cassava-growing location in Southern Nigeria is reported. Essentially, the opportunities and constraints associated with the technology in the agricultural innovation processes of cassava are examined and questions raised as to its suitability for up-scaling, given the challenges in obtaining substantial quantities of roots.


Empowering Biotechnology in Africa through Effective Technology Transfer: the Success Story of Cassava Biotechnology

Average cassava yields in the tropics, barely reach 20% that which can be obtained under optimal crop management systems. Despite the generation of good cassava cultivars and elite lines, introgression of improved traits has remained a tedious and time-consuming task. In this context, genetic transformation emerged as a powerful tool to produce improved cassava in a time-efficient manner. However, production was achieved at low rates of efficiency and only with a cassava cultivar amenable to genetic transformation in well-equipped laboratories. Transfer of the technology to countries where transgenic cassava will be of practical interest was therefore an important but challenging objective. Vanderschuren notes that to make transgenic cassava available for Africa, two not mutually exclusive options, are possible: (a) production in laboratories outside Africa and importation of transgenic lines where legislation for genetically modified crops has been implemented; and (b) implementation of the cassava transformation technology in African laboratories. However, promotion and acceptance of transgenic crops will also require local capacity to develop transgenic crops and this is essential for self-determination. Training of local scientists in Africa and education and training of African scientists in laboratories where cassava transformation is routinely performed are therefore essential. He also proposes coupling the implementation of genetic transformation technologies and capacity building with careful selection of public-private R&D partnerships and development of a legal biosafety framework as well as genetically modified (GM) crop regulation. Vanderschuren concludes that sustainable development and adoption of transgenic cassava in Africa cannot occur if these parameters are neglected.


Determinants of organisational and institutional innovation in the horticultural sectors of ACP countries

Innovation is a central part of agriculture’s adaptation to development issues linked to poverty reduction, the protection of environmental resources and competitiveness. In the horticulture industries (bananas, mangoes, citrus fruits, green beans, flowers, etc.) of the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries, logistics innovations (maritime shipping, reefer ships, cold chain) related to the globalization of companies partly explain the growth of international trade.[1] [2] The concept of innovation encompasses various disciplines (economics, sociology, management, etc.), outputs (products and processes) and characteristics (technological, organisational, institutional, etc.). Transversely, innovation refers to the processes of interaction that generate knowledge from which inventions originate and that integrate the invention into the production system, procedures and global value chains (Temple et al., 2011). These processes are governed by institutional variables related to market access conditions (logistics, standards and regulations), resources (input, information, knowledge and funding) and the rules of social cohesion (values, culture and politics). They are sped up by entrepreneurs from major stakeholders, central to which are companies.We propose to explain how the development of horticultural products of ACP countries to supply local, regional or international markets is related to determinants of innovation. We will structure the analysis by distinguishing between the exogenous or endogenous nature of these determinants in relation to the geographic location of the innovations. The objective is to create an analytical framework for understanding public sector innovation policies and the investment strategies of businesses, producer organisations and NGOs.[1]        All production, trade and service businesses with horticulture as the main activity.[2]        Broad definition of the horticulture of all products (fruits, vegetables, flowers, etc.) with characteristics such as perishability, fragility, etc. that determine technological innovations.


Adding Value to Tropical Fruits – The Case of the Jamaican Ackee Industry: Lessons for Policy and Practice.

The ackee fruit (Blighia sapida K.D. Koenig) is the emblem of Jamaican national identity. It is speculated that the ackee tree is native to the forest of the Guinea Coast of tropical West Africa, where it is admired as an ornamental shading plant and used in the construction of furniture (Seaforth, 1963). During the era of the Atlantic Slave trade in the 1700s, when millions of Africans were transported to the Caribbean, they brought with them ackee seeds, which were used for fishing. The shiny black seed contains saponin, a physiologically active polyphenolic compound that forms a soapy lather with water, and this active ingredient is poisonous to fish (Davidson, 1971).The edible portion of the fruit, the aril, is eaten in Nigeria, where it is known as ishin. Indigenous knowledge about the ackee fruit was carried to the Caribbean region, specifically Jamaica, where it is the main ingredient in the national dish known as “ackee and cod fish” (Royes and Baccus, 1988). This tropical fruit is processed and exported as a canned product but the industry faces many challenges. The scientific and engineering community has responded to save the industry but quality and safety issues continue to hinder expansion on the international market.The ackee fruit is a capsule that is green when young, becoming yellow to red, reaching 7.7-10 cm long at full maturity (Mitchell et al., 2008). The fruit develops into a red-coloured fleshy three-celled capsule, made up of three valves with a septa in the middle. The seeds are black; one in each cell with a fleshly aril around its base, and the aril is attached to the placenta by a red membrane. The aril is the edible part of the fruit consumed after the complete removal of the seed and the red membrane to which it is attached (Figure 1). The average ackee pod usually contains three pegs; less frequently, two or four pegs and rarely five pegs are noted (Barnett, 1939). Figure 1. Unripe ackee fruits (1) and ripe open ackee fruits (2) showing carp (A), seeds (B) and arilli (C).


Science and Technology for Livestock Value Chain Development: A Focus on Artificial Insemination

Population growth, urbanization, and income growth in developing countries are fuelling a global increase in demand for food of animal origin. The resulting demand comes from changes in diets of billions of people and provides income growth opportunities for many of the rural poor. Over the last 20 years, meat consumption in developing countries has increased three times as fast as in developed countries. In order to benefit from the demand, farmers in developing countries should adapt to the new environment, which demands dissemination of technologies and changes of production systems to eliminate low productivity. This article by P. H. Bayemi provides a detailed overview of artificial insemination practices in Cameroon.


Science and Innovation in Family Poultry Value Chain Development: Lessons for African countries

Scientific innovations and appropriate regulation in the family poultry value chain, even in their simplest form, would bring significant benefit to the producers and their flock. Essential to raising the output of family poultry production systems is the recognition of who owns and takes care of the birds. It is also important to understand flock size as a balance between local feed resources, household subsistence needs and disease prevalence.To achieve a positive outcome and secure production, science and policy must thus facilitate the regional production of appropriate poultry feed from locally available resources, the identification of helpful traits in indigenous breeds (for disease resistance in particular) and, the valorisation of ecosystems services that birds provide at the village scale.Successful scientific and regulatory innovations in biosecurity practices, preservation of fresh eggs, cold storage of meat, vaccination campaigns and participatory epidemiology are making their way to small producers but are still not widespread. Radio, mobile phone and branding of indigenous poultry products are marketing tools that will help the family poultry value chain. Still, structural hurdles remain considerable, at the traders’ level; namely ethnic affinities and networks, transport routes, cage sanitation or within the country’s legal and institutional framework e.g. extension and advisory services and livestock census forms. These issues must be tackled by scientists and policy-makers.   (Photo: Guy et Monique Laurent 2005)


Sustainable Small-Scale Poultry Production: Are Local Feeds a Viable Option for the Pacific Region?

The lack of regional small-scale feed manufacturing plants, high cost of imported feed and cheap imports are holding back the development of the smallholder poultry sector in Pacific countries. As there are adequate supplies in some regions of locally produced feed ingredients (cassava, sweet potato, coconut, maize), the prospect for alternative feedstuffs is in the semi-commercial or family poultry units. For these sectors, profitability rather than maximum production is the objective, and alternative feedstuffs can make a useful contribution in poultry feeding.In his article, Glatz examines four feeding strategies to produce effective poultry rations that are in line with the regional availability of feed resources. With a complete ration formulation using local ingredients, egg production was significantly lower in birds fed the local mix ration compared to the commercial ration. Testing free-choice feeding, the birds showed the capacity to regulate their intake according to their physiological requirements, provided that the three food groups were readily available. Using a mix of concentrate with local ingredients, birds fed a 50/50 sweet potato / low-energy concentrate or a 50/50 cassava / high-energy concentrate diets were able to reach market weight in due time. A 70/30 sweet potato / low-energy concentrate diet was effective only in the more suitable environment of the Western Province of PNG. Diluting commercial broiler finisher with 20-40% copra meal resulted in similar growth as the 100% broiler finisher control diet (inclusion of 60% copra meal resulted in somewhat less acceptable growth). Poultry farming in the Pacific using local feeds can be competitive and achieve 30% feed cost savings when mini-mill equipment is readily available and small-scale regional feed manufacturing centres (producing 5-10 tonnes/week) are built where local feed supply is plentiful.


Increasing rice yields and saving water: Lessons for Policy and Practice - The System of Rice Intensification (SRI)

This lead article outlines the benefits of the SRI system, in particular alternate wetting and drying irrigation (AWD), which allows a 20-50% direct reduction of irrigation water applied to the rice paddy. Under the current practice of continuously-flooded rice paddies, rice crops receive two to three times more water than other irrigated cereal crops, even though rice has a similar transpiration rate. Developing methodologies that improve water-use efficiency or water productivity in rice production will allow for saving water and for its reallocation to other uses.  The SRI system is co-responsible for saving water and increasing yields. SRI also focuses on improving plant establishment, significantly reducing plant population and improving soil conditions. To follow SRI practices, farmers are prompted to pay attention to land levelling, so as to avoid drowning the small transplants with irrigation water. Land levelling is thus an important water-saving practice, as it allows even distribution of water throughout the plot, and the depth of the irrigation water can be precisely controlled. Changes in production cost and labour allocations occur with SRI compared to the conventional system; however, there are challenges. An effective extension and advisory system is key.Photo/credit: Erika Styger


Knowledge along traditional rice value chains – a practice-based approach: are there lessons for Sub-Saharan Africa?

This lead article describes the experiences of SNV in strengthening the rice value chains in Vietnam, Lao PDR and Cambodia. It especially considers the role of the traditional knowledge system and the changes and adaptations associated with responding to market developments and private sector involvement. It also analyses how the actors in the value chain use both traditional and scientific and technological knowledge in a changing environment.Through natural selection and farmer knowledge, a wide collection of rice varieties has been preserved. However, since the introduction of intensive irrigation combined with intensive use of chemical fertilisers and high-yielding varieties, farmers have become increasingly dependent on external knowledge sources, but are not receiving adequate advisory services. Improving interaction between farmers and the private sector is considered crucial for meeting demands of international markets, given the need for delivering homogeneous quality on a consistent basis and in a cost effective manner.