Technology transfer for regional development: an examination of the diffusion of technological innovation for rice farming in the Western Dagomba District Council Area

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Northern Region is an important area for rice cultivation in Ghana, and past regimes have referred to it as the granary of the country. The region has the potential to produce all the rice needs of the country (350,000 tons). But it now produces less than a quarter of the country’s needs. Out of this, the study area produces about two thirds of the 78,000 tons produced by the region. Efforts made by the government and non-state organisations in introducing technology innovations in the study area to help increase rice production have not been accepted as it was envisaged. Food shortages with rapidly rising commodity prices has become the hallmark of the study area and Ghana as a whole. The question to ask then is why does technology innovation not spread as fast as expected and also why is the adoption rate low? Does the problem lie with the farmers or extension officers? Is the technology introduced far beyond farmer’s capabilities? Is it that the technology is very expensive or the culture of the people which is hampering the adoption of the technology innovation? These are some of the questions the study seeks to investigate to help solve the problem of slow diffusion and low adoption rates of technology innovations in the study area. For this task, data were gathered from institutions related to agricultural extension and agricultural development generally. Information was also collected in the field from 71 farmers selected from a universe of 273 farmers of the Rice Farmers Association in the study area. Eleven non-association members inclusive in the 71 farmers were interviewed to broaden the data base for the analysis. The 71 farmers were selected from nine settlements which were randomly selected. Information that could not be obtained in the field was collected from documentary sources and provided the theoretical frame for the analysis. From the analysis of the data the following came out as the major findings: (i) that innovations are introduced hierarchically and diffused. through expansion processes; (ii) that the Ministry of Agriculture (MOA), the Ghanaian German Agricultural Project (GG.AP) and the Commercial banks are the agents introducing the innovations; (iii) that tractors, combine harvesters, fertilizers, weedicides, pesticides and improved seeds are the innovations being introduced; (iv) that extension services are inefficient; (v) that the road network is inadequate and poor; (vi) farmers poverty affect their wiliness to adopt innovations; (vii) that Government controlled prices are very low and storage facilities very poor; (viii5 that the north-west and northern parts of the Western Dagomba District Council (WDDC) area are sparsely populated and poorly served with roads. There are also no distribution centres; (ix) that the culture of the people serves as a barrier to technology diffusion; (x) that tractors are expensive, and costly to run. Many lie idle because of lack of spare parts and fuel shortages and (xii) that animal traction is not widely used in the study area. Empirical evidence based on the work done in the study area• show that some of these findings adversely affect the diffusion process and, the adoption rates of technology innovation. The following proposals are, therefore, designed to improve the diffusion processes and the adoption rates of technology in the study area and affect increase in rice production; (i) the quality of extension services should be improved; (ii) existing roads in poor conditions should be rehabilitated and new feeder roads provided in the areas which lack roads; (iii) a three tier service centres should be organised to provide efficient services to farmers in the study area; (iv) village plant pools should be organised to cut down cost of machinery, especially, tractors and combine harvesters; (v) tractors and other machinery should be standardised to make it easy to bring in spare parts; (vi) as a means of solving the fuel problem, fuel should be supplied directly to co-operatives or communities that own machinery; (vii) animal traction should be emphasised since the running cost of machinery has become very expensive; and (viii) a body should be created to be solely responsible for the development, purchase and processing of rice. It is hoped that if these proposals are implemented, the technology innovation being introduced into the study area will catch up fast with farmers. And the needed increase in rice production would be realised.
A thesis submitted to the Board of Postgraduate Studies, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of the Degree of Master of Science in Regional Planning, 1984