Friday, March 5, 2010
Agribusiness and innovations in Africa
Published by The World Bank
2009, 240pp, ISBN 978 0 8213 7944 8(Pb), US$35
Ghana, a major producer of cassava and cocoa, has set itself an ambitious goal: it aims to be a middle-income country by 2015. Achieving such a goal will depend to a large extent on its ability to foster innovation in agricultural production, processing and marketing. In the last three years, as documented in this book, some useful innovations have been made: new machinery for cassava grinding and pressing have been introduced; cocoa farmers have been trained in how to reduce pest and disease damage; some companies are making better use of radio and television advertisements in their marketing; and farmers organisations have a greater role in crop processing.
However, various factors are also hindering innovation, notably poor availability of finance and a free-market system that allows cheap imports to undercut local producers. Government policy has supported innovation in some instances but is poorly coordinated as a whole, raising doubts over whether Ghana can achieve its bold ambition.
With further country reports from Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda, this concise and accessible publication from the World Bank offers valuable recommendations for how innovation can be supported in sub-Saharan Africa, a subject that is likely to be of interest to a wide audience.