ABSTRACT

Recent events have focused international attention on the state of African agriculture. Many commentators see the prevalence of ‘primitive’ cultivation practices as a major factor in present food production difficulties. Permanent solutions to the famine problem, it is supposed, will depend on closing the ‘gap’ between science and a ‘backward’ peasantry, hence the stress placed on ‘top-down’ agricultural extension systems for the efficient delivery of ‘modern’ inputs to small-scale farmers. According to this viewpoint, the key to an agricultural revolution in Africa is technology transfer. This introduction presents an overview of the key concepts discussed in the subsequent chapters of this book. The book challenges the assumptions of this approach. It argues that technology transfer is part of the problem not the solution. The book proposes that R&D strategies for the food-crop sector in Africa should be planned on the basis of listening to the farmer, and by paying careful attention to the internal dynamic of change among small-scale farmers.