International Journal of Tropical Insect Science

, Volume 10, Issue 6, pp 777–782 | Cite as

The Role of Social Science in Generating Technologies for the Farming Community in Africa

  • Kwesi K. Prah
  • Achola Pala Okeyo
Special Section Pest Management and the African Farmer


This paper is based on experiences obtained during a joint enterprise between the Social Science Interface Research Unit, of the Crop Pests Research Programme, and the Livestock Ticks Research Programme at ICIPE. Topics bearing on technology design and deveiopment are emphasized.

The resource-poor farmer as conceptualized within ICIPE and reinforced by research experience, is by definition a person who operates a diversified system of production in which food security concerns and cash income intakes are crucial.

The family/household provides most of the labour required in production in African farming communities. For this reason, their labour investment into the adoption of novel activities or technological innovation and their assessment of the value of such innovations requiring changes in their normative practice, is appraised primarily in terms of the returns they would get for the additional labour input.

It is noteworthy that much of the so-called family labour is, in fact, female labour. It is therefore arguable that the perception of the women of technological inputs and innovations as profitable, is crucial for the successful adoption and social acceptance of novel technology.

Although agricultural land is in increasingly short supply, it would appear that the crucial limiting factor in production is not a shortage of land per se, since a good number of households do not fully exploit all the agricultural land at their disposal. Labour, and/or cash income to secure additional labour, appears to be the most important constraint to production. This tends to suggest that for future technological interventions in agricultural systems of the rural poor, consideration will have to be given to inputs which optimize the use of family/household labour.

The escalating population growth suggests that focus on women’s health and incomes could significantly and qualitatively improve the prospects for the adoption of new and improved technology in areas such as pest and vector control.

Key Words

Social-science interface family labour resource-poor farmer technological inputs pest control vector control 


Ce publicatlon se base sur les experiences acquisses durant une collaboration entre L’Unité des Sciences Sociales (SSIRU), le Programme de Recherches sur les ravageurs de culture (CPRP) et le Programme de Recherche sur les Tiques (LTRP) de l’ICIPE. Des sujets qui relatent du developpement des technologies furent prisen consideration. Un paysan a faible revenue comme l’ICIPE le definit est un personne qui opere un systeme de production diversifié, dans lequel la securité alimentaire et l’argent sont d’une importance cruciale. Le foyer est la source de la force productive dans les communautès paysanes africaines. Pour cette raison l’adaptation des nouvelles activitès ou les innovations technologiques necessitent des changements dans l’approche des paysans de faire quelleque chose parce qu’ils pensent toujours au benefice a acquerir grâce au travail supplementaire. Ce qu’on appelle travail de familie n’est autre que le travail des femmes. C’est pourquoi la perception des femmes est tres importante pour l’acceptation les nouvelles technelogies. Bien que les terres cultivables ne sont pas sulffisantes pour tout le monde le facteur limitant la production n’est pas le manque des terres parce que la plupart des foyers n’utilisent pas effectivement leur terre. Une constraite majeure pour la production c’est les travailleurs et l’argent pour les employer. Ceci entraine à suggèrer des mesures a prendre sous certaines considerations pour ameliorer les conditions de vie des paysans en introduissant des techniques capables d’elèver le rendement de la production par foyer.


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Copyright information

© ICIPE 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kwesi K. Prah
    • 1
  • Achola Pala Okeyo
    • 1
  1. 1.The International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE)NairobiKenya

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