An Innovation Systems Perspectives on Tertiary-Level Agricultural Education in Sub-Saharan Africa: Evidence from Ethiopia

David J. Spielman, Kristin Davis, Elias Zerfu, Javier Ekboir and Cosmas M.O. Ochieng,
International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)

This paper examines how tertiary-level agricultural education in sub-Saharan Africa can contribute to agricultural development beyond its current role as a source of technical training. The paper draws on data and information gathered from semistructured key informant interviews conducted in late 2006 in and around Addis Ababa, Ambo, Haramaya, Harar, Holetta, and Combolcha, as well as information and analysis from secondary sources. The paper specifically examines tertiary-level agricultural education from an innovation systems perspective, an approach that frames technological change against the actions and interactions of diverse innovation agents, and the complex social and economic institutions that condition their practices and behaviors. The paper argues that while tertiary-level agricultural education is conventionally viewed as key to expanding a country’s stock of trained human capital, it should also play a role in building the capacity of organizations and individuals to explore new products and processes that depend on the transmission and adaptation of existing information. To do so, tertiary-level agricultural education systems should focus more on transforming organizational cultures and building innovation networks to strengthen innovative capabilities at both the institutional and professional levels. Key reforms include the introduction of educational programs beyond the formal tertiary-level agricultural education system, and improvement of the incentives that encourage tertiary-level agricultural education professionals and organizations to forge links with other innovation system stakeholders.

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