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A comparative analysis of agricultural knowledge and innovation systems in Kenya and Ghana: sustainable agricultural intensification in the rural–urban interface

Abstract

Agriculture remains the backbone of most African economies, yet land degradation severely hampers agricultural productivity. Over the last decades, scientists and development practitioners have advocated integrated soil fertility management (ISFM) practices to improve soil fertility. However, their adoption rates are low, partly because many farmers in sub-Saharan Africa are not fully aware of the principles of this system innovation. This has been attributed to a wide communication gap between farmers and other agricultural actors in agricultural knowledge and innovation systems (AKIS). We add to the literature by applying innovation system approaches to ISFM awareness processes. This study aims to assess if AKIS are effectively disseminating ISFM knowledge by comparing results from two sites in Kenya and Ghana, which differ in the uptake of ISFM. Social network measures and statistical methods were employed using data from key formal actors and farmers. Our results suggest that the presence of weak knowledge ties is important for the awareness of ISFM at both research sites. However, in Kenya AKIS are more effective as there is a network of knowledge ties crucial for not only dissemination but also learning of complex innovations. This is largely lacking in Ghana where integration of formal and informal agricultural knowledge systems may be enhanced by fostering the function of informal and formal innovation brokers.

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Fig. 1

Source: Adapted from Borgatti and Halgin (2011)

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Notes

  1. The concepts of Agricultural Knowledge and Information Systems and Agricultural Innovation systems (AIS) have been recently merged into Agricultural Knowledge and Innovation Systems (AKIS), more so in the European Union policy and research context (Klerkx et al. 2012; Pascucci and De-Magistris 2011).

  2. In the urban zones, the smallest administrative unit was rather not a village but an area within a municipality.

  3. Although there are a few marketing institutions in Tamale, the marketers that farmers deal with are often independent market ladies who would be considered informal actors. Conversely, in Kakamega market actors are often formal organizations although there is still a presence of informal marketers such as market ladies or traders.

  4. The homogeneity of variances assumption was not violated for three ties: strong informal, weak formal and weak informal ties. The data was normally distributed for some groups according to the Shapiro–Wilk test (P < 0.05). For strong informal ties, all groups were distributed normally except the last group (IG + F+OR + LA). All groups for weak formal tie scores were normally distributed except for control group. Lastly, for weak informal ties groups IG + F and IG + F+M + LA were normally distributed but the other two were not. Nevertheless, one-way ANOVA is fairly robust to deviations from normality (Lix et al. 1996).

  5. F* (star) one way ANOVA was used as an alternative to standard one way ANOVA as distribution of data for most groups was non-normal and the variances were heterogeneous. The F* test is robust even when the assumption of homogeneity of variance is violated (Wilcox 1987).

Abbreviations

AGR:

African Green Revolution

AGRA:

Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa

AIS:

Agricultural innovation systems

AKIS:

Agricultural knowledge and innovation systems

ANOVA:

Analysis of variance

CBOs:

Community-based organizations

CIAT:

International center for tropical agriculture

F:

Fertilizer

IARC:

International agricultural research centers

IG:

Improved germplasm

ISFM:

Integrated soil fertility management

KARLO:

Kenya agricultural research and livestock organization

LA:

Local adaptation

NARS:

National agricultural research stations

NGOs:

Non-governmental organizations

OA:

Organic amendment

UPA:

Urban and peri-urban

SARI:

Savannah Agricultural Research Institute

SD:

Standard deviation

SSA:

Sub-Saharan Africa

SWT:

Strength of weak ties

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Acknowledgments

This study was partly funded within Urban Foodplus project (FKZ: 031A242A) sponsored by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) under the initiative GlobE-Research for the Global Food Supply. This paper also benefited from comparative work in the rural-urban interface within FOR2432, funded by Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG). We are grateful for the logistical support and advice received from the University for Development Studies (UDS), the CSIR-Soil Research Institute, SARI, and KARLO. We also thank the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) officers, village elders and, last but not least, farmer and institutional actor participants in Kenya and Ghana for their cooperation. Lastly, we gratefully acknowledge the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) for granting a scholarship to the first author.

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Adolwa, I.S., Schwarze, S., Bellwood-Howard, I. et al. A comparative analysis of agricultural knowledge and innovation systems in Kenya and Ghana: sustainable agricultural intensification in the rural–urban interface. Agric Hum Values 34, 453–472 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10460-016-9725-0

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Keywords

  • Actor ties
  • Agricultural knowledge and innovation systems
  • Ego networks
  • Integrated soil fertility management