Accepted paper:

Grassroots Innovation Process among Rural Communities in Africa


Tadasu Tsuruta (Kindai University)
Yuko Sugiyama (Hirosaki University)

Paper short abstract:

This paper focuses on the interplay between grassroots technological innovation and socioeconomic transformation in rural Africa. It discusses how newly-introduced technologies have been shared with others and diffused throughout the community by allowing everyone access to new resources.

Paper long abstract:

African villages have always been exposed to a continuous inflow of new farming technologies. Recently, in many parts of rural Africa, capitalistic farmers (including foreign investors) have introduced the latest farm machines and new seeds to implement large-scale monoculture farming, which also affected neighboring rural communities in many ways. Expansion of commercial agriculture has often been accompanied by a large-scale land appropriation, leading to varying scales of land conflicts and disruption among indigenous communities.

In contrast to such a disruptive and coercive nature of Green Revolution-type of technological change, grassroots innovation process among African villagers have often worked to maintain harmony or connection with existing skills, communal ties, and natural environment. By applying knowledge and skills of external origin, villagers constantly introduce changes not only in their production process but also in other aspects of everyday life including cooking, brewing, and so forth. Such grassroots innovations may be initiated by one marginalized person, but gradually spread through the whole community, by allowing resource-poor villagers access to land, labour or other resources which may be needed to adopt a new technology. This diffusion process is often closely linked to local circulation of cash. Drawing on empirical case studies in Zambia and Tanzania, this paper will examine how new technologies have been introduced and diffused in rural communities, thereby revealing a socially-inclusive character of grassroots innovation process.

panel Econ21
Integration of peasantry into the global market: inconspicuous connections and opportunities on the fringes of large-scale investments