, Volume 23, Issue 3, pp 353-369
Date: 12 Aug 2006

A methodology for tracking the “fate” of technological interventions in agriculture

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Abstract

The primary focus of agricultural research and extension in eastern Africa is technology generation and dissemination. Despite prior critiques of the shortcomings of this approach, the consequences of such activities continue to be measured through the number of technologies developed and introduced into the supply chain. At best, impact is assessed by the total numbers of adopters and by the household and system factors influencing adoption. While the diffusion research tradition has made substantive advances in recent decades, attention to what happens to technologies after adaptive, on-farm research trials continues to be limited in practice. While a host of newer approaches designed to correct for past shortcomings in diffusion research is now available, integrative methodologies that capitalize on the strengths of these different traditions are sorely needed. This article presents a more encompassing methodology for tracking the fate of technological interventions, illustrating the potential applications of findings for enhancing the positive impact of agricultural research and extension in the region.

Laura German holds a BSc in Agricultural Engineering from Cornell University (2001) and a PhD in Ecological Anthropology from the University of Georgia (2001). Following many years of involvement in Latin America, she took a position in 2002 as Scientist for the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) under the African Highlands Initiative, an ecoregional program of the Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) and a network of the Association for Strengthening Agricultural Research in East and Central Africa. Her current research interests include theoretical and applied work in three main areas: (1) research-development linkages; (2) integrated natural resource management at the landscape/micro-catchment scale; and (3) collective action in natural resource management.
Jeremias Mowo holds a BSc in Agriculture (1979) from Dar Es Salaam University and an MSc (1983) and PhD (2000) in Soil Science from Wageningen University. He worked as soil fertility specialist in cotton-based agro-ecosystems for 11 years and coordinated soil research in Tanzania for four years. From 1998 to 2005, he worked under the African Highlands Initiative as Coordinator for the Lushoto Benchmark Site in Tanzania. In May 2005, he took up a two-year contract with the Institut des Sciences Agronomiques du Rwanda (ISAR) as Senior Scientist in Soil and Water Management Research where he is currently spearheading the Integrated Watershed Management approach. His research interests include integrated natural resource management, farmer participatory research, methods and approaches for technology transfer, soil and water management research, organic farming and use of indigenous knowledge in soil management.
Margaret Kingamkono holds a BSc in Agriculture (1994) and an MSc in Agriculture (1996) from the Sokoine University of Agriculture. Since 1995, she has worked for the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security in Tanzania with a focus on livestock production. She has carried out extensive collaborative work on areas of land resource management, participatory approaches, and crop-livestock-agroforestry interactions. Her research interests include gender and development and integrated natural resource management.