The Challenges of Disseminating a New Rice Variety in Guinea, Benin and Sierra Leone

Daniel N Dalohoun, West Africa Rural Innovations Policy Studies Hub, United Nations University MERIT/INRA

When a technology is good, "it can sell itself" But under which conditions can it do so? This study builds upon an approach combining the innovation system concept and entrepreneurship theory, and attempts to answer this fundamental question which, hitherto, remains somehow 'mythical' to field specialists, governments and other development actors concerned with sub-Saharan African agriculture.
About 10 years after its first introduction, we analysed how the New Rice for Africa (NERICA), a range of interspecific varieties, had spread in Guinea, Results indicate that successful dissemination of agricultural innovations depends not only on the availability of complementary technologies during a given time span, but an environment that enables entrepreneurship since most technologies transform into innovations through business mechanisms.
In Benin, the study uncovers a process of innovation system formation: a 'self-organizing system of innovation' based on a promising technology: the New Rice for Africa (NERICA). The finding highlights that understanding how an innovation system emerges and develops is critical to its promotion and to ensuring successful innovation processes. It stresses the pre-eminent role of entrepreneurship in innovation processes, thereby posing new challenges for development actors and opening up a new avenue for research into innovations.
After almost a decade of civil war, Sierra Leone is trying to recover from a devastated economy dominated by a sluggish agriculture. At the heart of the efforts, stand community development banks providing substantial support to all economic activities in rural areas. The NERICA dissemination process tends to rely on the assistance of those banks. But this appears critically insufficient in the absence of an innovation enabling environment.

About the speaker
Doctor of Economics of Innovations, Researcher, West Africa Rural Innovations Policy Studies Hub, United Nations University MERIT/INRA, University of Ghana Campus, Legon Accra, Ghana

Venue: UNU MERIT Conference Room

Date: 17 February 2009

Time: 16:00 - 17:00  CEST