SciDev.Net

Agricultural technologies must be `appropriate`

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Source: SciDev.Net

How an agricultural technology is generated and where it comes from — be it through local efforts or global centres —  are not as important for development as whether the product is appropriate, says development expert, Sara Delaney.

'An appropriate technology is accessible, affordable, easy-to-use and maintain, effective — and most importantly, it serves a real need', says Delaney.

A fast-maturing strain of rice can be appropriate anywhere the variety thrives, regardless of where it was bred or engineered, says Delaney.

Too often, international scientists and policymakers believe that different types of technology cannot be applied to the same problem, claims Delaney. But that is not true, she adds.

For example, farmers in drought-prone areas often need a range of technologies to cope — from traditional water conservation techniques to 'intermediate' solutions such as drip irrigation to 'new' technologies such as genetically modified crops.

Farmers must be able to select the best combination for their own fields, argues Delaney.

Scientists spend too much time arguing, for example about how to control the parasitic weed Striga, says Delaney. Instead of debating whether to use a biological systems approach of intercropping or a technological approach such as breeding resistance, they should be asking how the two can be used together.

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