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

Are agricultural ‘success stories’ all they appear to be?
Are agricultural ‘success stories’ all they appear to be?
February 13, 2013 / Science, Technology and Innovation
Demonstrating 'impact' has become a strong imperative for those involved in agricultural research. But this pressure has led to some large-scale claims for techniques that have only been tested at farm level. In a new blog post, Jim Sumberg examines

Debate: farmers, GM crops and agriculture’s future
Debate: farmers, GM crops and agriculture’s future
November 23, 2012 / Science, Technology and Innovation
The Guardian's latest Global Development podcast features a panel discussing the future for farmers, GM crops and agriculture. The discussion, which includes FAC's Andrew Dorward, was recorded at the UK DSA conference in October 2012. High food prices, concerns about

Mind the (yield) gap(s)
Mind the (yield) gap(s)
October 10, 2012 / Science, Technology and Innovation
What is a "yield gap"? The term might be rooted in the science of crop production ecology, but it is now increasingly used as a device to frame policy. The journal Food Security carries an article by Future Agricultures member

Is the Livestock Revolution ‘supply driven’?
Is the Livestock Revolution ‘supply driven’?
September 26, 2012 / Science, Technology and Innovation
The notion of the 'Livestock Revolution' is one of the most powerful ideas to emerge in the area of food, nutrition and agriculture in the last 10 years. It has been called a 'supply driven' revolution, in contrast to the

Policy Briefs: Seeds, Agro-dealers and Political Economy
April 11, 2012 / Science, Technology and Innovation
Six new Policy Briefs shed light on the political economy of seeds in Kenya, Malawi, Ghana, Ethiopia and Zimbabwe. They arise from the work of the Science, Technology and Innovation theme of the Future Agricultures Consortium. These Policy Briefs also

New book: Contested Agronomy
New book: Contested Agronomy
February 17, 2012 / Science, Technology and Innovation
A new book, Contested Agronomy, by FAC members Jim Sumberg and John Thompson, is published by Routledge as part of the STEPS Centre's Pathways to Sustainability book series. Contested Agronomy book: order The dramatic increases in food prices experienced over

New IDS Bulletin Features FAC work on the Political Economy of Seed Systems in Africa’s Green Revolution
New IDS Bulletin Features FAC work on the Political Economy of Seed Systems in Africa’s Green Revolution
July 5, 2011 / Science, Technology and Innovation
As calls for a ‘Uniquely African Green Revolution' gain momentum, a focus on seeds and seed systems is rising up the agricultural policy agenda. Much of the debate stresses the technological or market dimensions, with substantial investments being made in seed

FAC Contributes to International Conference on Sustainable Seed Systems in Ethiopia, 1-3 June 2011
FAC Contributes to International Conference on Sustainable Seed Systems in Ethiopia, 1-3 June 2011
June 7, 2011 / Science, Technology and Innovation
FAC's Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) Team co-sponsored an international conference on ‘Sustainable Seed Systems in Ethiopia: Challenges and Opportunities’ in Addis Ababa on 1-2 June 2011, co-hosted by the Ethiopian Institute for Agricultural Research (EIAR), in partnership with The

The political economy of seed systems
The political economy of seed systems
January 4, 2011 / Science, Technology and Innovation
Huge expectations exist around the prospects of a new Green Revolution for Africa. Major investments have been made in supporting a science-led revolution in crop production, hoping that this will transform Africa’s fortunes. Institutions such as the Alliance for a

Farmer Consultations on Agricultural Research for Development (AR4D)
Farmer Consultations on Agricultural Research for Development (AR4D)
April 12, 2010 / Science, Technology and Innovation
In 2008, Future Agricultures Consortium with the Salzburg Global Seminar and theInstitute of Development Studies (IDS) helped to co-convene the initiative "Toward a 'Green Revolution' in Africa?" This initiative brought together many key stakeholders to discuss and debate what a