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An innovation systems perspective on strengthening agricultural education and training in sub-Saharan Africa

David Spielman (), Javier Ekboir, Kristin Davis () and Cosmas Ochieng

Agricultural Systems, 2008, vol. 98, issue 1, 1-9

Abstract: This paper examines the role of postsecondary agricultural education and training (AET) in sub-Saharan Africa in the context of the region's agricultural innovation systems. Specifically, the paper looks at how AET in sub-Saharan Africa can contribute to agricultural development by strengthening innovative capacity, or the ability of individuals and organisations to introduce new products and processes that are socially or economically relevant, particularly with respect to smallholder farmers who represent the largest group of agricultural producers in the region. The paper argues that while AET is conventionally viewed in terms of its role in building human and scientific capital, its also has a vital role to play in building the capacity of organisations and individuals to transmit and adapt new applications of existing information, new products and processes, and new organisational cultures and behaviours. The paper emphasizes the importance of improving AET systems by strengthening the innovative capabilities of AET organisations and professionals; changing organisational cultures, behaviours, and incentives; and building innovation networks and linkages. Specific recommendations in support of this include aligning the mandates of AET organisations with national development aspirations by promoting new educational programs that are more strategically attuned to the different needs of society; inducing change in the cultures of AET organisations through the introduction of educational programs and linkages beyond the formal AET system; and strengthening individual and organisational capacity by improving the incentives to forge stronger linkages between AET and diverse user communities, knowledge sources, and private industry.

Date: 2008
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