Title: Seed systems for African food security: linking molecular genetic analysis and cultivator knowledge in West Africa
Author: Paul Richards, Martien De Bruin-Hoekzema, Stephen G. Hughes, Comfort Kudadjie-Freeman, Samuel Kwame Offei, Paul C. Struik, Afio Zannou
Technology & Agrarian Development Group, Wageningen University & Research Centre, Hollandseweg 1, 6706 KN, Wageningen, The Netherlands.
Technology & Agrarian Development Group, Wageningen University, Hollandseweg 1, 6706 KN, Wageningen, The Netherlands.
Centre for Genomics in Society (Egenis), University of Exeter, Byrne House, St. German
s Rd., Exeter EX4 4PJ, UK.
Agricultural Extension Department, School of Agriculture, University of Ghana, P.O. Box LG68, Legon, Ghana.
Biotechnology Centre, School of Agriculture, University of Ghana, P.O. Box LG68, Legon, Ghana.
Plant Sciences Group, Wageningen University, Haarweg 333, 6709 RZ, Wageningen, The Netherlands.
02 BP 1621 Gbegamey Cotonou, Benin
Abstract: A challenge for African countries is how to integrate new sources of knowledge on plant genetics with knowledge from farmer practice to help improve food security. This paper considers the knowledge content of farmer seed systems in the light of a distinction drawn in artificial intelligence research between supervised and unsupervised learning. Supervised learning applied to seed systems performance has a poor record in Africa. The paper discusses an alternative – unsupervised learning supported by functional genomic analysis. Recent work in West Africa on sorghum, African rice and white yam is described. Requirements for laboratory-based analytical support are outlined. A science-backed 'farmer first' approach – while feasible – will require a shift in policy and funding by major investors.
Keywords: seed systems; functional genomics; food security; African rice; white yam; actor networks; farmer knowledge; supervised learning; unsupervised learning; West Africa; molecular genetic analysis; plant genetics.
Int. J. of Technology Management, 2009 Vol.45, No.1/2, pp.196 - 214
Available online: 30 Nov 2008