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Technology Adoption in Eritrea's Agriculture: Socio-Economic Perspective

Student: Laine kibrom medhanie -

Supervisor: Thomas Thurner

Faculty: Institute for Statistical Studies and Economics of Knowledge

Educational Programme: Governance of Science, Technology and Innovation (Master)

Year of Graduation: 2021

The world’s population is growing rapidly, and it is in Africa where this challenge is particularly critical. It is evident that the current available resources will not be sufficient to produce enough food. An improvement in agricultural technology has a potential to provide the necessary boost to production and productivity. Once these technologies are found useful, the ultimate users or farmers should incorporate them in their operation. Technology adoption in agriculture is an apparatus of economic growth and an imperative way to increase farm productivity and improve food security around the globe. There are many factors that affect the adoption of a particular agricultural technology. The main objective of this thesis is centered on understanding the opportunity and challenges of adopting technology in the agricultural sector of Eritrea and study the key factors that determine the decision of farmers in adopting agricultural technologies. Three technologies related to irrigation, livestock and improved crops are highlighted. National Agricultural Research Institute (NARI) is the main source of agricultural technologies. A qualitative research paradigm is employed by the current study. Data was collected through a semi-structured interview with relevant officers from different institutions and ministries purposely selected with non-probability method followed by snowball sampling. To understand the current technology adoption in Eritrea’s agriculture, a comprehensive literature review of scientific papers and reports were revised. According to the discussion with the interviewees, the factors affecting adoption of agricultural technology are availability of technology at affordable price, gender of head of household, land tenure system, credit service, farm size, tradition and culture, family size, marketing & storage capacity, technical know-how, divisibility of technology and extension service. The most prominent factors were found to be land tenure system, accessibility to technology, head of household’s gender and credit services. Long-term investment is discouraged by the land ownership system where ownership is rotated every three to seven years. Due to continuous war and harsh climatic environment, accessibility of technology has been difficult for farmers. Moreover, the fact that the head of most households being women creates another problem as they are disadvantaged to acquire credit or other inputs from different institutions. This affects their capability to engage in farming activities that require intensive labor and huge capital investment. Credit availability is another important factor greatly affecting technology adoption. Saving and Micro Credit Program (SMCP) is the main financial institution that serves the farming community. The recently introduced Minimum Integrated Household Agricultural Package (MIHAP) project, where credit is given without collateral, is playing a crucial role in modernization of the rural farming system. The project is also an integrated farming through which farmers get nutritious food for themselves and generate income from selling their surplus products. Moreover, as per the information from the interviewees, younger farmers are more educated, have higher access to institutional services, off-farm income and risk bearing capability. Among the positive socio-economic impacts of agricultural technology is that it breaks away some unhelpful cultural traditions like not working on religious holidays. Nevertheless, technology adoption is still hindered by other religious teachings such as abstinence from consumption of particular animal’s meat like pork and rabbit meat. Another impact of the technology is that it helps farmers to improve their standard of living with an increased income. As majority of Eritrean farmers are smallholder subsistent, organizing them into associations and cooperatives could empower them to bargain in the input and output market. It is recommended that major structural change to the farming system is needed to allow farms to grow in size and be viable economically and agronomically. To achieve this, unviable and small farms are encouraged to quit farming. To create job opportunities to these farmers in rural and urban areas, industrialization needs to move along hand in hand with agriculture and other forms of social protection in the form of social safety nets. In fact, this requires massive structural change in the other sectors outside agriculture. It is recommended to conduct an in-depth survey to have a comprehensive understanding on technology adoption by including representative farmers. Key words: technology, adoption, agricultural productivity, sub-Saharan Africa, Eritrea

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