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aiming to implement outside innovation more easily, and to include shared responsibility, trust and cooperation. The exchange among women of technology and knowledge they have developed would be a more sensitive step in improving women’s autonomy than expensive and advanced technology. If women are involved in the whole innovation process, they can set their own priorities collectively for appropriate capital-intensive technology (Pingali and Rajaram, 1998). This implies the need to change national and international research and agricultural policy in favor of women’s possibilities and capacities (Zweifel, 1995). There is also need to increase the participation of women in the biotechnological sciences and other modern sciences, especially at senior levels, as well as their representation in regulating and making policy for biotechnology (Gender Advisory Board, 2004).

To conclude, technologies developed and implemented to meet the needs of women and women farmers have the potential to contribute to the IAASTD development goals, mainly through alleviating their labor burdens. Measures should be taken to ensure that modern agricultural technology will not undermine women’s autonomy but will rather help women gain more autonomy. Acknowledgement of this autonomy leads to the logical conclusion that women must play a key role as decision makers in designing the direction of research and in agricultural policy-making processes and governance in the CWANA region.

4.3 Options for Strengthening AKST Future Effectiveness

The previous chapter identified the most prominent challenges that agriculture might face in the CWANA region over the next 50 years should agricultural practices continue to operate according to a business-as-usual scenario. In this section, agriculture-related technology is presented as a key tool to address these challenges, and the role of various technology management practices (and support systems) in reaching development goals is examined.

4.3.1 Options to improve AKST generation

Options exist for improving the generation of AKST:

  • Research policy and funding

  • Intellectual property rights
  • Farmers’ innovation capacity

At present most CWANA countries do not adequately invest in agricultural research to generate AKST. The research capacity required to generate appropriate environmentally friendly technologies to increase agricultural production has not yet been fully built. And agricultural research has been largely concentrated in public agricultural research institutions (Roozitalab, 2000).

Developing effective and efficient research systems to generate agricultural technology in the region will require CWANA countries to set research priorities that are well attuned to the needs of farmers and preferences of consumers, and to mobilize all partners to generate technology.

The future outlook for generating agricultural technology In developing countries, where growth in food production had relied heavily on plowing up new land and on


irrigation development, technology was increasingly responsible for production growth after 1965 (Oram, 1995). However, since shrinking land and water reserves are placing a greater burden on technology, increase in food production during the next 25 years will have to be achieved using less water, labor and cultivated land. This can be done only if scientists can develop new crop varieties with high water-use efficiency and high yield potential (ADB, 2001).

Concerted and systematic efforts should be made to develop priorities for technology generation and R&D that are consistent with socioeconomic, cultural, agricultural, environmental and political realities and goals (Gender Advisory Board, 2004). Agricultural technology generation needs to be directed to the needs of the poor. It needs to focus on the problems of marginal dry areas and to emphasize simple, low-cost technology appropriate for smallholders and resource- poor farmers. For example, biotechnology can address the issue of poor-quality seed and introduce improved materials into the local seed sector (USAID, 2005). Inappropriate technology could radically change local employment patterns; although it could increase production, it could cause greater unemployment and hence poverty.
Technology generation in the following areas should receive high priority (Oram, 1995:

  • Technologies to improve natural resource management

  • Technologies to protect crops from biotic stresses without heavy reliance on pesticides
  • Genetic improvement of key crops

Need for increased public-private sector collaboration

Public investment in agricultural technology is crucial for achieving future food security and reducing poverty. Accelerated public investments are needed to develop technology applications that address difficult problems in rainfed and marginal areas (ADB, 2001). However, most governments in CWANA have limited resources to finance technology research, and few CWANA countries or even international public-sector institutions have the resources to create an independent source of modern technology, such as biotechnology innovations. Additional private investment is required. Currently, it is the private sector that has the knowledge, skills and capital to solve the problems of small-scale farmers, even though comprehensive data on private sector biotechnology research in developing countries are not available (FAO, 2004). Meanwhile, the private sector is unlikely to undertake much of the R&D needed by small-scale farmers because it sees little potential for return on investment. Hence financial incentives or policy initiatives are essential for increased collaboration in technology generation and R&D between public and private sectors.

The leading role of the public sector in technology generation cannot be overemphasized. Agricultural research is often long term, large scale, and risky, and while returns to generated technologies are often high, the firm responsible for developing the technology may not be able to appropriate the benefits accruing to the innovation. The benefits of agricultural research often accrue to consumers (through reduction in commodity prices due to increased supply), rather than to the adopters of the new technology, so social returns may be greater than private returns to research. Therefore, a