a. The Disseminating Innovative Resources and Technologies to Smallholders Project
Studies suggest that smallholder farmers under-invest in farm technologies, including organic and inorganic fertilizer, high-yield seeds and farming equipment. Recent work by the Savannah Agricultural Research Institute (SARI) and the University for Development Studies (UDS) estimates that farmers in northern Ghana are achieving just 30 percent of potential crop yields. Innovations for Poverty Action’s (IPA) project on Examining Underinvestment in Agriculture (EUI) was conducted in northern Ghana since 2008 and has shown a dramatic response of farm investment to rainfall index insurance, in the form of increased cultivation, land preparation, chemical input purchases and household labor. There is strong demand for rainfall index insurance: more than two-thirds of farmers purchased insurance at commercial prices. However, increased investment did not lead to higher farm profits. The ongoing Soil Health Project (SHP), a project managed by SARI and funded by the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), has demonstrated that technologies and agricultural practices exist that dramatically increase profits on test plots on farmers’ fields. GSSP is collaborating with IPA and other organizations in an activity that combines two ideas: improving financial markets to provide a more permissive environment for farmer investment, and providing advice and making inputs available so that farmers can achieve higher profits through these investments.
During the coming major season (2012), the program will pilot more effective provision of extension to farmers through Community Knowledge Workers in collaboration with Grameen Foundation. If the concept is proved, it will be employed for testing the effect of improved extension on technology adoption in the experiment that is likely to begin in 2013.
b. Adoption and Impact of Agricultural Technologies
Investments in research and development (R&D) (often coupled with investments in infrastructure) have been highlighted as critical for increasing agricultural productivity and achieving food security. While the need for increased funding and investment in R&D has been emphasized quite often, there is limited understanding on the effectiveness and functioning of the R&D organizations where the intended investment will go into. Global estimates of public agricultural R&D investments reached $25.2 billion (in 2005 purchasing power parity [PPP]) based on cross-country data available in 2000 (Beintema and Stads 2010); and in Ghana, about $95 million (PPP, in 2005 constant prices) or $0.94 for every $100 agricultural GDP was invested in agricultural R&D in 2008 (Flaherty, Essegbey, and Asare 2010). However, there is dearth of studies that assess the use, outcome and impacts of the technologies and outputs being generated by these R&D investments.
Several attempts of reorganization and reforms have been implemented and new arrangements have been adopted over the years (Echeverria, Trigo and Byerlee 1996; Byerlee and Alex 1998; FAO 2002; Byerlee and Echeverria 2002) but these are rarely analyzed in terms of their implementation experiences, outcomes and impacts. Ragasa, Abdullahi and Essegbey (2011) show that 76 percent of 119 scientists interviewed who reported contributing to a technology developed in the last 5 years suggest that they do not have knowledge or awareness of the adoption of this technology among farmers and other end-users. About 30 percent of the 237 scientists interviewed in Ghana have never interacted with farmers and about 40 percent have never met with extension agents. These suggest limited follow-up on what happens to the technologies, which can further indicate lack of motivation on the part of scientists to know and lack of accountability within R&D organizations to farmers and end-users. With increasing scarcity of public funding and greater accountability, governments and donors are increasingly demanding assessment of economic returns and social impacts of investments in R&D. It is therefore important to understand the level of adoption and impact of technologies; identify factors and elements that explain different levels of adoption and impact of technologies; and suggest concrete ways to increase effectiveness and responsiveness of R&D organizations and their staff to farmers and end-users.
This study aims to contribute to increased understanding of factors contributing to or constraining wide adoption of improved technologies and factors affecting increased effectiveness of R&D investments in Ghana. The specific objective is to measure the level and rate of adoption of improved technologies produced by national agricultural research organizations (NAROs) and identify factors that contribute to or constrain increased adoption. The study will focus on rice and maize varieties in the country.