AGRA funds two-year study of ACCI impact
Millions of dollars have been spent on training the ACCI’s 120 PhD graduates. Has it been worth it?
In pursuit of an answer, the ACCI has hired an agricultural economist to determine what impact graduates have made, with the support of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), the agency that’s funded the ACCI since 2006.
The investigation will take the form of a two-year post-doctoral study by Dr Gideon Danso-Abbeam, who graduated from UKZN last year. Danso-Abbeam, who hails from Ghana, has been at the ACCI offices in Pietermaritzburg since January.
He says while ACCI graduates have achieved a lot, especially in the areas of producing new varieties and publishing articles, the main concern for AGRA is whether the welfare of smallholder farmers has been enhanced through the training of plant breeders.
“The first thing I’ll be evaluating is the impact of the training,” he says. “What are graduates doing? Are they releasing varieties, training other students and sharing knowledge by publishing articles and presenting at conferences?
“Some were already in the field before they came to the ACCI. My job is to find out what makes a difference after the training? How has the ACCI experience impacted on them as plant breeders, with regards to their professional progression, and technical and writing skills, among others,” says Danso-Abbeam.
“The next line of study will try to determine the rate of diffusion, or awareness and adoption of their new crop varieties. To what extent are farmers aware of their released varieties? I will analyse the diffusion and adoption rates and, finally, I’ll analyse the impact of planting these new varieties on farmers’ productivity and welfare. Does adoption of these varieties improve farmers’ expenditure on food and non-food items, and has their food security improved?
The study will take the form of a questionnaire sent to all the ACCI graduates, from 19 different African countries. A follow-up visit for personal interviews will be limited to a sample of countries where ACCI graduates have released new varieties, e.g., Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi, Uganda, Mozambique, Rwanda, Zambia, Zimbabwe, South Sudan, Mali and Burkina Faso.
Crops covered will include roots and tubers (potato, sweetpotato and cassava), cereals (rice, maize, sorghum and wheat) and legumes (groundnut, common bean and cowpea).
“I’ll also be trying to quantify how many varieties have been produced. We don’t have an exact record but it’s over 140 varieties.”
“At the moment I’m trying to figure out how we will track these people and find out how they are doing. I’m compiling a list of graduates to be visited. Ultimately we want to create a database to track graduates and varieties.”
Danso-Abbeam is well placed to conduct the study because he worked in the area of adoption and impact for his PhD, which looked at adoption of agricultural management practices among smallholder farmers and how this affected their welfare. He has also published articles on this topic.
Dr Gideon Danso-Abbeam