New Technology Promotion and Self Organising Systems of Innovation: the Case of NERICA in West Africa

Dr. Daniel N. Dalohoun, United Nations University MERIT/INRA, University of Ghana

NERICA (New Rice for Africa), a family of improved rice varieties specially adapted to the agro-ecological conditions of Africa, is a very good technology but its uptake and spread is not fast as expected. This study has revisited this old problem from a unique perspective combining innovation systems approach and entrepreneurship theory. The study has compared the spread of NERICA in two West African countries (Guinea and Benin) and explored attendant innovation processes. In the first country, large scale technology promotion campaigns have taken place focusing on training farmers along the whole rice production chain and with an extensive provision of other complementary technologies within diverse projects. In the second country, there has been no such programme, although critically there was a public awareness campaign in the local media, but not focusing specifically on farmers. The surprising finding is that it is in the second country that a sustainable rice production and processing innovation is thriving. Indeed, different socio-economic agents going individually or collectively about their own business objectives get to cross each other: deliberately, they have to learn, adopt new patterns of behaviours within new arrangements in order to exchange or gain resources required for the success of their undertakings. The study argues that this is a self-organising innovation systems process and has identified some of the critical factors that lead to it. On this basis it sets out an alternative approach to the usual extension system/ seed system / technology promotion intervention.

About the speaker
Daniel Nougbégnon Dalohoun, a citizen of the republic of Benin (West Africa) joined UNU-MERIT in December, 2006. His research area builds on the UNU-MERIT LINK collaboration with UNU-INRA (Accra, Ghana) to find ways of combining contemporary thinking and policy research on innovation with bio-physical research on natural resources in Africa. Before joining the institute, Dr. Dalohoun worked as a lecturer at the National School of Applied Economics and Management of the University of Abomey-Calavi (Benin) while participating in the World Bank Project: “International Assessment of Agricultural Science and Technology for Development”. He also worked as a financial manager, specialised in project analysis and assessment with “AMFRICA CONSULTANTS SARL” and as statutory manager and director of “GODWILL SARL” in Benin from 1996 to 2000. Prior to that, he worked for the Première Société Slovaco-Française in Slovakia between 1994 and 1995 as an assistant financial manager. Dr. Dalohoun received a PhD in “Economics and policy Studies of Technical Change”, from Maastricht University, the Netherlands in September, 2005. Dalohoun holds M.Sc. in Economic & Statistics and M.Sc. in Computer Assisted Management Systems from the University of Economics in Bratislava, Slovak republic. He also holds a MA in International and Development Economics from the University of Namur, Belgium.

Venue: UNU-MERIT, Confernece room, 4th floor, Keizer Karelplein 19, Maastricht

Date: 15 January 2008

Time: 15:00 - 16:00