Knowledge for Development

Commentary: Using science to drive adoption of new technologies


Date: 30/06/2014


Paul Weisenfel, vice president for Global Programs at RTI International, comments on the renewed interest in agricultural production shown by governments and the private sector. While many new technologies in agriculture are being touted as answers to the world’s food security challenges, Weisenfel notes that the bulk of research has been expended on these new technologies with insufficient attention to determining how best to scale them up. According to him, what is needed is a combination of the hard and soft sciences to effectively get smallholders to use these new technologies on a large scale. Weisenfel suggests a focus on three broad areas of research that could dramatically increase uptake: (i) combination of technologies (both new and existing) that work best in particular agro-ecological zones; (ii) better tools to quantify and disaggregate the barriers to adoption; and (iii) sophisticated economic modelling to better understand the market dynamics that drive or inhibit adoption of technologies. With a market-led, design-centred approach – understanding the needs (expressed and latent) and modelling the markets' ability to respond – Weisenfel believes it is possible to guide programmes to address market constraints to adoption.   

(The Chicago Council on Global Affairs, 05/05/2014)  

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