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Forskningsartikel2016Vetenskapligt granskad

Why new crop technology is not scale-neutral - A critique of the expectations for a crop-based African Green Revolution

Fischer, Klara


Poverty reduction during the Asian Green Revolution has been attributed to the inherent scale neutrality of new crop varieties making them equally beneficial to small-scale and large-scale farmers. The term 'scale-neutral' is now reappearing in debates on agricultural development in Africa with claims that crop technology is inherently scale-neutral and that African smallholders will significantly benefit from new crop varieties not specifically developed for their contexts. Using a social shaping of technology (SST) perspective and the concept of biological embeddedness, this paper critically examines whether it is helpful to describe crop technology as scale neutral when drawing lessons from the Asian Green Revolution about how new crop technology can be of benefit to African smallholders. The paper describes how political commitment, rather than inherently scale-neutral crops, was central for the outcome of the Asian Green Revolution. It also highlights that while the effects of crop biology are often disregarded in adoption studies, biology significantly affected the ability of Green Revolution crop technology to benefit smallholders, and continues to do so today. Using maize and GM crops as examples, this paper suggests that GM crops in their current form have reinforced a technological trajectory established with hybrid technology and directed it away from smallholder practices and agroecologies. Consequently, describing crop technology as inherently scale-neutral is not helpful for understanding how crop technology works in Africa today and prevents important lessons being learned from the Asian Green Revolution. (C) 2016 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


Scale-neutral; Crop; Smallholder; Green Revolution; Biotechnology; SST

Publicerad i

Research Policy
2016, Volym: 45, nummer: 6, sidor: 1185-1194

    Associerade SLU-program

    SLU Nätverk växtskydd

    Globala målen

    SDG1 Ingen fattigdom

    UKÄ forskningsämne

    Tvärvetenskapliga studier

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