Agricultural science and technology policy in Africa uri icon

abstract

  • This paper addresses the central problem facing agricultural policy makers in Africa today, namely, how to promote self- sustaining processes of growth fueled by technological advances, concentrating on small-scale agricultural production and trade. At bottom, the argument is an epistemological one, but with several practical implications. The dominant theoretical perspective on technical change and innovation in small-scale agriculture (choice under constrained maximization) is argued to be highly effective in identifying problems with small-scale agriculture. But its reliance on equilibrium notions renders it silent on solutions, i.e. each component of an equilibrium affirms the others, very often none more or less critically than the rest. Left vague are the processes through which the low-level technologies that purportedly underpin small-scale agriculture's problems actually come to be chosen, time and again. An alternative view is proposed, focusing on learning, adaptation, and problem-solving. Scope is thus identified for "out-of-equilibrium" improvements in smallholder production and trading systems, with important implications for policy. (C) 2003 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.

publication date

  • 2003
  • 2003
  • 2003