Can the private sector help deliver improved technology to cassava smallholders in South East Asia?

Authors

  • Jonathan Newby International Centre for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT)
  • Dominic Smith School of Agriculture and Food Sciences, University of Queensland, Australia
  • Rob Cramb School of Agriculture and Food Sciences, University of Queensland, Australia
  • Cu Thi Le Thuy International Centre for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT)
  • Laothao Youabee International Centre for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT)
  • Chea Sareth Socioeconomic Division, Cambodian Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI), Cambodia
  • Sophearith Sok International Centre for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT)
  • Chanphasouk Tanthaphone Economic and Rural development Research Center, National Agriculture and Forestry Research Institute (NAFRI), Laos
  • Wani Hadiutomo Department of Sustainable Agriculture, Brawijaya University, Indonesia
  • Lê Việt Dũng Northern mountainous Agriculture and Forestry Science Institute (NOMAFSI), Vietnam
  • Nguyễn Văn Nam Tay Nguyen University (TNU), Vietnam

Keywords:

knowledge management, agricultural development, development studies, cassava, sustainable production, agricultural production, technology adoption, South East Asia, Cambodia, Laos, Indonesia, Vietnam

Abstract

The cassava sector in South East Asia is a multi-billion dollar industry, with smallholder producers connected to final consumers via complex and diverse value chains. Public sector research conducted with farmers over several decades has generated technologies with the potential to improve farmer livelihoods. However, translating these research outputs into widespread adoption by farmers, with scaling beyond intervention sites, has had mixed success. This has prompted the question whether private sector actors in the cassava industry can have a greater role in knowledge transfer. We develop a framework in which value chain characteristics, as well as the inherent characteristics of technologies and farming communities, affect the potential for scaling of research outputs and widespread adoption by farmers. We apply this framework to an analysis of six contrasting case studies in four South East Asian countries, ranging from underdeveloped value chains around small-scale processing of animal feed to highly-commercialised international value chains for starch. We find that, in particular contexts, such as when farmer adoption of a technology generates increased supply to a single processor, the processor has an incentive to invest in the extension of research outputs to farmers in its supply zone. In other contexts, however, such as when there is intense competition among processors for smallholder output or where the benefits of the technology are not immediate, there is little incentive for private sector involvement. In all cases, we find that support from a knowledge broker, such as a public sector or non-government actor with the capacity to work with farmers, is also required. Hence, the private sector is not a panacea for generating research impacts at scale.

Author Biographies

Jonathan Newby, International Centre for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT)

Jonathan Newby is an agricultural economist and the regional coordinator of CIAT’s cassava program in Asia. He is based in Vientiane, Laos, and manages projects throughout South East Asia. Email: j.newby@cgiar.org.

Dominic Smith, School of Agriculture and Food Sciences, University of Queensland, Australia

Dominic Smith is a Senior Research Fellow in the School of Agriculture and Food Sciences at The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia. 

Rob Cramb, School of Agriculture and Food Sciences, University of Queensland, Australia

Rob Cramb is Honorary Professor of Agricultural Development in the School of Agriculture and Food Sciences at The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia.

Cu Thi Le Thuy, International Centre for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT)

Cu Thi Le Thuy is an associate researcher within CIAT’s cassava program, Hanoi, Vietnam. She is responsible for managing cassava research activities and partnerships within Vietnam.  

Laothao Youabee, International Centre for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT)

Laothao Youabee is an associate researcher within CIAT’s cassava program, Vientiane, Lao PDR. He is responible for managing research activities and partnerships within Lao PDR. 

Chea Sareth, Socioeconomic Division, Cambodian Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI), Cambodia

Chea Sareth is the Head of the Socioeconomic Division of the Cambodian Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI). He was responsible for managing project activities in Cambodia. 

Sophearith Sok, International Centre for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT)

Sok Sophearith is an associate researcher within CIAT’s cassava program, Phnom Penh, Cambodia. He coordinates CIAT’s cassava research activities and partnerships in Cambodia.

Chanphasouk Tanthaphone, Economic and Rural development Research Center, National Agriculture and Forestry Research Institute (NAFRI), Laos

Chanphasouk Tanthaphone is the Director of the Economic and Rural development Research Center, at the National Agriculture and Forestry Research Institute (NAFRI). He was responsible for managing project activities in Lao PDR. 

Wani Hadiutomo, Department of Sustainable Agriculture, Brawijaya University, Indonesia

Wani Hadiutomo is Professor in the Department of Sustainable Agriculture, Brawijaya University. He was responsible for coordinating project activities and partnerships in Indonesia.

Lê Việt Dũng, Northern mountainous Agriculture and Forestry Science Institute (NOMAFSI), Vietnam

Lê Việt Dũng is a researcher at the Northern mountainous Agriculture and Forestry Science Institute (NOMAFSI). He is based in Phu Tho, Vietnam and was responsible for managing project activities in Sơn La Province.

Nguyễn Văn Nam, Tay Nguyen University (TNU), Vietnam

Nguyễn Văn Nam is a Vice Rector of Tay Nguyen University (TNU) and an Associate Professor in plant protection. He was responsible for managing project activities in Đắk Lắk Province. 

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Published

2020-09-18

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