Influencing innovation structures and processes in agro-industries dominated by subsistence producers: an analysis of the rural poultry industry in Tanzania
Mugittu, Vera Florida
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This thesis examines innovation structures and processes in rural poultry industry in Tanzania. In 2005, FAO categorised the rural poultry production system in Tanzania under the lowest sector IV with very minimal biosecurity measures and with no commercial orientation. By 2012, a DFID-funded Research into Use (RIU) programme transformed the industry to Sector III which represents a significant commercial orientation and relatively higher bio-security measures. This thesis explains how RIU achieved that. This analysis is presented from three perspectives. First, the path dependence framework is used to present the observed dominance of the traditional poultry production system as a ‘lock-in’. The study makes it clear that before RIU, mental frames, resource allocations and how dominant powers behaved reinforced low innovation tendencies. Second, using the agricultural innovation system (AIS) framework and the concepts of ‘organisational thinness’ and ‘fragmentation’ (also from path dependency theory), it explains that by making rural producers feel self-sufficient in inputs and knowledge, practices in the traditional system disconnect producers from engaging with other actors. Third, the concepts of ‘innovation broker’ and of ‘exogenous shock’ are used to present RIU as an external force or facilitator which instigated a transformation process. RIU facilitated a large number of rural producers to produce for the market, and which was sufficient enough to create a significant demand for inputs and services. This demand triggered new investment and re-organisation in the supply chains. Then, RIU supported actors to solve capacity problems that emerged from the shock. RIU is therefore presented as a flexible ‘innovation broker’ who played different roles and allocated resources based on circumstances on the ground. The thesis makes several contributions. It presents a case of how a public action can promote innovation in industries dominated by subsistence producers by playing the role of an innovation broker to support a significant number of producers to change routines and interact with other actors. It also shows that rural growth can be achieved through linking rural enterprises with those in the urban instead of supporting rural actors in isolation. It basically makes it clear that African agriculture needs re-organization, so that technological changes can follow as a consequence.