Can the private sector help deliver improved technology to cassava smallholders in South East Asia?
Keywords:knowledge management, agricultural development, development studies, cassava, sustainable production, agricultural production, technology adoption, South East Asia, Cambodia, Laos, Indonesia, Vietnam
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.
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Copyright (c) 2020 Jonathan Newby, Rob Crumb, Dominic Smith, Cu Thi Le Thuy, Laothao Youabee, Chea Sareth, Sophearith Sok, Chanphasouk Tanthaphone, Wani Hadiutomo, Lê Việt Dũng, Nguyễn Văn Nam
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