Innovation systems, agricultural growth and rural livelihoods in East Africa

Project overview

Project lead: Peter Dorward, University of Reading

Start date: 19 June 2012

End date: 31 October 2014

Project webpage

Research Council project page

Smallholder farming is widely seen as a potential engine for economic growth and for poverty alleviation in rural areas of sub-Saharan Africa. Yet the arrangements put in place to encourage the uptake of new technology, and to improve the management of resources by smallholders, have not always been particularly effective.

Using Kenya, Sudan and Uganda as case studies, this project explored how different institutional arrangements affected the innovation activity of male and female farmers and the impact this had on growth in the local economy.

The research team built up a detailed picture of organisations and institutions that support and provide services to smallholder farmers. They then carried out a detailed investigation of recent innovation activity in four sites in each country to analyse the factors that constrained or supported innovation.

Evidence-based conclusions were developed on the potential and limitations for enhancing support for smallholder farmers’ innovation through new institutional arrangements and different ways of implementing support programmes at local level.