Science, Technology and Innovation

Technology – seeds, breeds, fertility inputs, disease control measures, water management – is clearly key to getting agriculture moving. But the impacts of extensive investment in technology development and transfer in Africa and in some parts of Asia have been patchy. With new technology options coming on-stream (e.g. biotechnologies or various sorts) and important new players in the private sector in particular, there are new challenges for the governance of technology in the agriculture sector. The old research and development extension arrangements of 20-30 years ago are not appropriate, but what is? We want to ask a number of questions:

  • How can agricultural technology be made to work for the poor? What are the implications for technology choice and priority setting mechanisms?
  • How are technology trajectories linked to processes of agrarian/livelihood change in different settings?
  • What should be the roles of public and private sectors (both international and national) in technology development?
  • How is access to technology options constrained? What alternatives exist?
  • How should national/regional innovation systems look to deliver inputs for small farmers?

Latest articles

Call for contributions: Contested Agronomy 2016
Call for contributions: Contested Agronomy 2016
February 5, 2015 / Science, Technology and Innovation
The conference “Contested Agronomy: Cases, Dynamics & Implications” will take place at the Institute of Development Studies in February 2016. Contested Agronomy 2016 is a conference about the battlefields in agricultural research, past and present. For full details, visit the

Productivity assessments are let down by poor methods
November 13, 2014 / Science, Technology and Innovation
Flawed methods are used to assess the productivity of new technology for farmers, resulting in unreliable evidence, according to a new briefing by Future Agricultures member Michael Loevinsohn. New technology that enables sustainable and profitable production of food is critical

Strengthening African seed systems
Strengthening African seed systems
June 25, 2014 / Science, Technology and Innovation
A regional dialogue on “Strengthening African Seed Systems: Technical, Economic and Policy Challenges” took place in Nairobi on 14-15 July, hosted by Future Agricultures and the Tegemeo Institute of Agricultural Policy and Development. Video and presentations from the event are

‘African Farmer’ online game launched
‘African Farmer’ online game launched
April 23, 2014 / Science, Technology and Innovation
African Farmer, a free, open source online game, has been launched by the Future Agricultures Consortium and the University of Sussex. The game simulates the complex decisions and uncertainties faced by small-scale farmers living in Sub-Saharan Africa. It aims to

Technology: more than mobiles
Technology: more than mobiles
September 17, 2013 / Science, Technology and Innovation
Electronic devices allow farmers in Africa to access and share information as never before. But the role of ‘technology’ in agriculture is about more than just sharing practices through mobile phones. Institutions, social change and politics play a part. In

Arguing about agronomy
Arguing about agronomy
August 27, 2013 / Science, Technology and Innovation
A new article in Outlook on Agriculture looks at how agronomy has been affected by social change since the 1970s. The science of agronomy informs crucial decisions on development. It is often seen as a practical, problem-solving field, but like other

Afrocapitalism and GM: blurred philanthropy?
Afrocapitalism and GM: blurred philanthropy?
July 22, 2013 / Science, Technology and Innovation
In an article for openDemocracy, Sally Brooks examines the promise of Afrocapitalism and new forms of philanthropy involving public private partnerships for development in Africa. Brooks compares the development of Golden Rice in the 1990s and 2000s, the more recent

FAO launches high-level reports on biofuels and smallholder farmers
FAO launches high-level reports on biofuels and smallholder farmers
June 26, 2013 / Science, Technology and Innovation
Today (26 June 2013) sees the launch of two reports from the High Level Panel of Experts on Food Security and Nutrition: #5 Biofuels and food security, and #6 Investing in smallholder agriculture for food security. Report 6, according to

Breathing new life into farming systems research
Breathing new life into farming systems research
May 3, 2013 / Science, Technology and Innovation
In a new blog post, Jim Sumberg suggests how the discipline of Farming Systems Research (FSR), pioneered in the 1970s, could be revived with new thinking. With agriculture once again high on the development agenda, and with new ambitions, actors

New book sheds light on Ethiopian seed systems
New book sheds light on Ethiopian seed systems
March 6, 2013 / Science, Technology and Innovation
A new book, available as a free download (Zip file, 18MB), is the culmination of a considerable amount of new and important research on seed systems, both within Ethiopia and across Africa. Defining Moments in the Ethiopian Seed System draws