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Literature Review Of Greenhouse Farming Technology Environmental Sciences Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Environmental Sciences
Wordcount: 5059 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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This chapter presents a review of the literature on the topic of challenges faced when introducing greenhouse farming technology for agriculture. The chapter is structured on the basis of the research questions: Awareness of the product and its advantages to the farmers, challenges faced by farmers, legal issues surrounding this new technology and challenges faced by the firm introducing this new technology.

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Information is the key to making sound decisions. Some farmers are unaware of the availability of a suitable machine, tool, or implement that could aid in their usually tedious work. They might be secluded from the technology by natural barriers and sociopolitical boundaries, Paras et al. (2005). He goes on further to say sadly enough, some farmers are even lackadaisical and seemingly uninterested in mechanization.

According to Weiderhold (2007), Industry is rarely ready to accept an innovation when it first presented. There are many reasons for lack of acceptance: the two major ones he cites are:

The innovation is not understood by industry because, as a byproduct of the innovation new terms have been defined.

The innovation is understood or at least understandable, but there are no resources at that time to try to develop and market the innovation

According to Hammond et al (2005) the major barriers to improving food and nutrition security include issues dealing with farming practices, farmers ignorance of sustainable actions to take, and variations in the weather. Over-cropping takes place, which leaves the land choked, degraded, and often infertile. Farmers often grow the wrong crops in the wrong places causing low rates of crop growth and problems with soil degradation. Droughts cause problems because virtually none of the small subsistence farms have other ways of irrigating crops other than the rain. Also, in some areas, nonstop rain drowns fields and farms. Erosion has carried away much of Kenyas fertile topsoil.

Searles (2007) states that a subsistence farmer in Kenya, which is the main target market for the greenhouses, cannot produce crops on a large scale if he does not know how to do so. It is hard to prevent problems such as soil erosion and degradation without knowing what to do to stop it. One also cannot eat enough if they do not know how much enough is or other things such as what foods provide how much energy. Also, one cannot eat enough nutritious foods if one does not know what foods are high in certain needed nutrients. There is also the problem of sheer lack of enough food. If a family farm was educated on how to grow enough food to eat as well as sell they would have enough income in order to meet their needs by purchasing food and other things.

She also stresses that there has been little effort towards education of the family farmers. In the cities there are resources available in order to educate a farmer but it is not accessible to many rural citizens. There has been no centralized effort to educate the majority of farmers on sustainable development issues.

2.2.2 Limited-Resource Farmers

According to the UNDAF (2008) Poverty, especially income poverty, remains one of the most formidable challenges for Kenyans today. Over 45% of Kenyas population still lives in poverty, with some 12.6 million of the estimated 33 million population living below the poverty line of less than one dollar a day. Rural communities, especially those in ASAL (Arid and Semi Arid Lands) areas and those in informal urban settlements, are the most affected. Most of the rural poor in Kenya (75% of poor households) depend on agriculture for their livelihoods (United Nations Development Assistance Framework [UNDAF], 2008)

Each farm is fairly small, producing enough food to feed the family and some to sell. There are main crops grown in larger fields while smaller fields exist to grow smaller amounts but larger varieties of foods for the family to eat. Only 17% of Kenyas consumed food is imported to the country and that is mostly for the upper class citizens.

With 64% of the people living in rural areas, and 80% of these practicing subsistence farming or cattle herding, the situation of food insecurity is severe. The people living in the urban areas are those that raise the general standards per capita with wage income and calorie consumption. Those in the rural areas, in general, receive less than the average of the per capita measurements. This means that nearly 52% of the population does not earn enough money, eat a well-balanced diet, or receive enough calories. Each person in the country is falling about 115 calories short of the average requirement human beings each day. The average income of each person is very low on the global scale and does not provide for many needed or very helpful supplies in the home or food wise. The poor in Kenya also receive less protein and other nutrients needed for good health.

2.2.3 Reluctance, Resistance to Change and Risk Aversion

Experience indicates that Kenyan farmers are generally reluctant to changes in their farming activities for this is their way of life. They have the “wait-and-see” attitude. Although many farmers are very much open to new ideas and technology, there are more farmers who would first want to see a working model or system before they follow the lead states the Kenya-Advisor (2009).

Like any new technology, greenhouse technology faces some of the same market problems as other innovations where few people would be willing to try out a new product. We can use the Rogers adoption model to better understand this concept.

According to Popelka, Terryn, et al. (2004) the technology adoption lifecycle model describes the adoption or acceptance of a new product or innovation, according to the demographic and psychological characteristics of defined adopter groups. The process of adoption over time is typically illustrated as a classical normal distribution or “bell curve.” The model indicates that the first group of people to use a new product is called “innovators,” followed by “early adopters.” Next come the early and late majority, and the last group to eventually adopt a product are called “laggards.”

According to Knowler, B. Bradshaw (2007) we can see from the model that most people (68%), fall under early majority or late majority, meaning that most people would be unwilling to try out new innovative products such as greenhouse farming because they are uncertain of its success.

Diagram according to Knowler, B. Bradshaw (2007).

2.2.4 Lack of Training from Extension Personnel

Extension is the battlefront of technology transfer. The people involved in extension must not only be technically updated but must also possess good management and interpersonal skills. With so much on their shoulders, most of them might be lacking the capability to integrate the greenhouse technology into the total farming system.

According to Wilson, T.A., (2005) Efforts have been made in Kenya to improve on the policy framework for extension services. In this regard a National Agricultural Sector Extension Policy (NASEP) has been formulated and aims at giving extension a sector-wide dimension and representation to take over from the current National Agriculture Extension Policy (NAEP). It is also to guide and regulate the provision of agricultural extension service in the country. Currently, the NASEP implementation framework is being prepared.

2.2.5 Lack of Education

According to the nation encyclopedia (2009) Seventy-four percent of children in Kenya attend primary school, but only 24% move on to secondary school. Kenya has an 82% literacy rate. Children of impoverished subsistence farms often do not attend school due to the necessity of their help on the farms. The more money a family has the higher likelihood the children will attend school. There are public schools in both urban and rural areas for the children to attend. There are fewer schools in rural areas than in urban and many in the rural areas are not the highest quality. 64% of the population is located in rural areas.

Rural poor are at a great disadvantage to receiving education. They have little money to find needed resources for knowledge and live far from cities where that knowledge would be available. Urban poor are at a disadvantage, but much less than rural, because they are near the information. The poor also cannot afford to spread the knowledge to other farmers and cannot afford to attend college which would give adequate information on sustainable development. Even some in urban areas may have no access to information about sustainable practices because there are no libraries or institutions of higher learning in the cities. There is more education for subsistence farmers occurring in Kenya, but not on a large scale.

According to John Makeni (2009) Kenyans have been offered education on expansion of horticulture and access to credit and business services by USAID, which has led to a small increase in rural incomes. USAID has also trained 6,350 teachers in the Northeastern and Coast Provinces in order to educate children in public schools in those areas, which will give the young a base of information to draw from. This may help with sustainable development in the future. USAID is helping communities manage their resources in more sustainable ways. The program set up by USAID focuses on community-based wildlife management, forestry and environmental management, and coastal zone management. 770,000 hectares of land are being put under improved management, $652,000 U.S. dollars in revenues from nature-based businesses has been earned, and 1,200 new jobs have been created to deal with the many issues. Parliament has enacted an environmental bill and is working on a land policy review process and forestry and wildlife bill.

2.3 Government

The greenhouse farming technology for agriculture is relatively new in Kenya and there is very little if any legislation available. This section of the paper will therefore review legislation from countries that have laws on greenhouses and their impact on the adoption of the greenhouse technology in those countries.

2.3.1 Role of Government in Agricultural Technology transfer

Agricultural technologies and knowledge have, until recently, largely been created and disseminated by public institutions. But over the past two decades, biotechnology for agricultural production has developed rapidly, and the world economy has become more globalised and liberalised. This has boosted private investment in agricultural research and technology, exposing agriculture in developing countries to international markets and the influence of multinational corporations. But the public sector still has a role to play, particularly in managing the new knowledge, supporting research to fill any remaining gaps, promoting and regulating private companies, and ensuring their effects on the environment are adequately assessed.

According to P. Marenya, C. Barret (2007) Since the end of World War II, the public sector of developed countries has helped transfer agricultural technologies to developing countries. During this period, most developing countries in Latin America and Africa, as well as some countries in Asia (like India and Thailand), have depended heavily on agricultural production to support their economies. So general development activities were often aimed at modernising the agricultural sector.

Still P. Marenya (2007) continues that, since the late 1970s, all this has changed. Technologies have become embodied in physical products, like farm machinery or agrochemicals. Exponential growth in such industries has led to a rapid expansion of private firms that create, manufacture and sell technology. Private firms have also seen opportunities to profit by using complex seed improvement research to create and then distribute new crop hybrids. And so, the role of the public sector has also had to change.

2.3.2 Early technology transfer in agriculture: a public sector activity

According to C. Doss (2006) After World War II, the United States began a number of initiatives to build up agricultural science in developing countries and help transfer technology. US universities offered training programmes, for example through scholarships for international students, managed by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA). The USDA, the US Agency for International Development and some of the major US foundations, like Ford and Rockefeller, also supported university libraries in developing countries to help scientists access new research.

Many of these activities had enormous effects in the developing world. For example, a Ford Foundation programme in Argentina supported close to 40 PhD students, creating a cadre of professionals in the country and consolidating agricultural economic analysis in local institutions like the National Institute for Agricultural Technology.

According to J. Oehmke, E. Crawford (1993) In the early 1960s, the International Rice Research Institute and the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre (CIMMYT) were formed in the Philippines and Mexico respectively. These two centres evolved into a network of independent research institutions in Columbia, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Italy, Kenya, Nigeria, Peru, Syria and the United States. In 1971, the association of donors that supported the research centres became the Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), and the 15 institutions that exist today are known as the Future Harvest Agricultural Research Centres.

Piniero (2005) states that, developing countries created National Agricultural Research Institutes (NARIs) to do applied research. In Latin America, all countries, with the exception of El Salvador and Paraguay, have such an organisation. There are also similar organisations in Kenya and Uganda in Africa, and India and Pakistan in Asia.

Evenson and Gollin (2003) International research centres developed technologies for major global food crops such as rice, wheat, corn, cassava, potatoes, millets and beans. National research institutes used applied research to adjust these technologies to fit relevant ecological and production conditions. The national and international centres worked closely together, sharing training and frequently involving scientists from both sides in visits and seminars. National centres then provided advice and counselling to local farmers, diffusing the new knowledge into the country’s production system.

This system worked especially well for disseminating improved crops and new production techniques. For example, plant breeding work at CIMMYT developed a new family of wheat varieties in the early 1970s that were being used by more than 80 per cent of all wheat areas by the late 1990s, Evenson and Gollin (2003). And the research institutes set up during the 1960s and 1970s in the developing world were largely responsible for substantially increasing yields. For example, global cereal yields doubled between 1960 and 1985, Conway (1997).

Technology is still transferred to developing countries this way, but recently, public funding for agricultural research has diminished, and science has grown more complex.

2.3.3 A changing role for the public sector

According to I. Tzouramani, K Mattas (2004) Over the last two decades, advances in sciences like molecular genetics have enabled rapid development of biotechnology for agricultural production. Meanwhile, economic globalisation and trade liberalisation has increasingly exposed agriculture in developing countries to international markets and multinational corporations. Technologies that exist as marketable products, like seeds, agrochemicals and agricultural machinery, have grown quickly.

James (2004) noted that this in turn, fuelled private investment in agricultural research and technology, particularly by international corporations that benefit from economies of scale, and have access to world markets. But research activities in the private sector have limited scope. For example, private research into seed improvement concentrates on just a few crops, like corn and soybeans, that are grown in temperate regions. Such specialisation is even greater in biotechnology, where over 70 per cent of the land planted with transgenic breeds grows just four crops soybeans, corn, canola and cotton, James (2004). Because of this narrow focus, the private sector usually disseminates its advances to developing countries that practise commercial agriculture in temperate climates and have relatively large markets. Small-scale farmers in developing countries still largely rely on the public sector for technology transfer, especially if they cultivate crops that don’t interest private firms.

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According to H. Zavale (2006) Public institutions are slowly adapting to these new circumstances by redefining their positions and priorities. CGIAR has emphasised its role in developing and transferring technologies that are adapted to small and poorer farms. The organisation is also beginning to consider work on non-food crops. Similarly, national research institutions, like the National Institute for Agricultural Technology in Argentina and the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation, are concentrating on crops and ecological conditions relevant to small farms. They also research techniques that complement private sector developments, for example by developing production systems and conservation methods that make using new technological products (such as agrochemicals, farm machinery and improved crops) more efficient.

2.3.4 A new way to approach technology transfer

According to Thirtle. Et al (2003), The new economic and scientific context requires a new, more complex, model for transferring technology. The evolving model has four main components: knowledge management, gap filling research, promotion and regulation of the private sector, and environmental impact analysis (see Figure 1).

Figure 1. A multidimensional model of agricultural technology transfer for the public sector Knowledge management

According to D. Scharfstein, C.F. Manski, J. Anthony (2004), The public sector continues to be largely responsible for knowledge management that is, articulating national needs, matching them to scientific opportunities, mobilising available technology, and adjusting them to farmers’ needs. NARIs and universities undertake this role in many developing countries. They help develop both new and orphan crops, promote successful agriculture in poor ecological conditions and tackle small-scale technological problems, none of which greatly interest the private sector. Such work accounts for much of the research done by local institutions, and needs to be strengthened. Local institutions should provide incentives for their staff to collaborate with international researchers and seek synergies with research done elsewhere. In many ways the CGIAR centres are important in helping integrate local efforts with the knowledge available worldwide. Gap-filling research

According to R. Deheija, S. Wahba (2002), National public research institutions also have a major responsibility for research in areas ignored by the private sector. This ‘gap filling research’ is particularly relevant to technologies that are not embodied in physical products for example, forage management, animal health, soil management and conservation and irrigation practices.

Elbehri, A. and S. Macdonald (2004) further support this point stating that Public research into agriculture in developing countries represents about a quarter of worldwide expenditure in agricultural research. But it needs to be managed effectively if it is to produce high quality research to complement internationally available technologies and help developing countries acquire and use them. Some countries, like Brazil, China, India and Vietnam, have already taken action, using careful planning and working with research institutions in developed countries’ research institutions to help focus research. Promoting and regulating the private sector

According to Sankula (2006), The public sector should also both promote private investment and regulate private companies. Several policies can help encourage the private sector to invest in technologies that are relevant to farmers in developing countries.

First, adequate intellectual property rights legislation can be put in place. This allows private companies to protect profits from their research, helping attract investors and promoting research. Second, tax and credit facilities can provide indirect economic incentives to investment. Third, setting up frameworks for turning new technologies, like seeds or agrochemicals, into commercial realities for example consistent biosafety regulations, royalty agreements, profit sharing and reinvestment can be used to encourage interactions between private firms and public institutions, supporting joint activities and, thereby, encouraging technology transfer. Environmental impact analyses

According to Young, B. G (2006), policymakers must consider the environmental consequences of agricultural research. New agricultural technologies often use natural resources intensively, potentially damaging the environment, for example through land degradation or water contamination. This is especially true if the new technology is imported without being tested in local conditions.

According to Wilson, T.A., M.E.. Rice, et al. (2005) Genetically modified crops are a good example. Developing countries like Argentina largely rely on industrialised nations to provide genetically modified breeds. Close to 90 per cent of Argentina’s soybean crop is transgenic, and this has proved highly profitable in the past ten years. But the full environmental effects of expanding to marginal areas, displacing other crops and livestock, and using crop rotations are still unknown. Policymakers can help by developing regulatory measures, like mandatory environmental impact assessments, to minimise potential environmental damage and to protect consumers.

2.3.5 Protection of Patents and other Rights

The issue of Farmers rights has brought concerns within the seed industry, farmer communities and policy makers especially in Africa. Organisations such as The African Seed Trade Association (AFSTA) recognize the contribution of farmer communities to the conservation and the improvement of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture. They balance the important role of the African seed industry in maintaining and improving crop yields through continuous crop breeding to create superior varieties, which benefit farmers and to which they have access stated Bouis, H.E., B.M. Chassy et al. (2003). They support access to genetic resources for breeding purposes by all breeders i.e. farmers themselves, public research institutes and seed companies and is not in favor of any regulations that prevent them from sustainably exploiting available plant genetic resources to add value to their crops.

According to UPOV articles (1991), In addition, breeders need to get a reasonable return on their investment in plant breeding so that they can continue developing novel products. Free use of farm-saved seed undermines this principle and would lead to less breeding efforts and eventually prevent the release of new varieties to the detriment of farmers and agricultural development as a whole.In Africa, lack of public and private investment in plant breeding has led to a shortage of improved varieties limiting the choice of farmers. To give incentives to breeders, there is need to protect new varieties using intellectual property rights as provided for under the UPOV 1991 Convention.

This Convention gives adequate protection against inappropriate use of protected varieties while having provisions for free access and use for further breeding purposes i.e. breeders exemption and the compulsory exception of acts done privately for non-commercial purposes (Article 15 (1) of UPOV 1991 Convention) allowing African subsistence farmers to save and use seed from their own harvests, specifically for their own use. As stipulated in article 9 (3) of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (IT PGRFA), this right is subject to the national law in force in a given country where such acts may be prohibited or subject to specific requirements and/or limitations i.e. the right is not unconditional for farmers and the Article 9 does not intend to limit any rights granted to them at national level.

Under the UPOV 1991 Convention, national laws may allow farmers to replant on their own farm the seed produced on that same farm without the consent of the breeder of the protected variety. This exception however must remain within reasonable limits and is subject to the safeguarding of the legitimate interests of the breeder (Article 15(2) of UPOV 1991 Convention). This optional exception to Plant Breeders Rights should be limited to food and feed crops where farm-saved seed has been used traditionally and subject to the obligation that farmers provide information concerning the use to the breeder and to the payment of an equitable remuneration.

However, this UPOV Convention has a provision that allows the free use of farm-saved seed of a protected variety for non commercial purposes by African subsistence farmers.

It is very important that governments and all seed stakeholders make efforts in Africa to promote the development of more improved varieties with a view to addressing the needs of the diversified agro-ecological zones of the continent, which is widely ignored by the rest of the world, through effective protection of new plant varieties with clear mechanism of royalty collection for the breeders.

2.4 Firm Introducing the Technology

2.4.1 Training for Farmers

Provision of training to small scale farmers is especially difficult due to their low levels of education.

2.4.2 Appropriate distribution channels

Kenya has a wide geographical area where farming is done and so it is therefore difficult for one firm to serve the needs of these customers all over Kenya. Appropriate distributors and distributor channels therefore need to be identified to ensure that the technology is available to farmers all over the country.

According to Kotler (2000) Distribution (also known as the place variable in the marketing mix, or the 4 Ps) involves getting the product from the manufacturer to the ultimate consumer. Distribution is often a much underestimated factor in marketing. The problem is that retailers may not be willing to devote shelf-space to new products. Retailers would often rather use that shelf-space for existing products have that proven records of selling. This would therefore be a disadvantage to the firm introducing the greenhouse technology since it is new and untested in the Kenyan market. Manufacturer Distribution Preferences

According to Savadogo, Reardon and Pietol (1998), Most manufacturers would prefer to have their products distributed widelythat is, for the products to be available in as many stores as possible. This is especially the case for convenience products where the customer has little motivation to go to a less convenient retail outlet to get his or her preferred brand. Soft drinks would be an extreme example here. The vast majority of people would settle for their less preferred brand in a vending machine rather than going elsewhere to get their top choice. This is one reason why being a small share brand in certain

2.4.3 Sample Farms

The firm may need to create sample farms since farmers have a way of convincing other farmers to adopt a technology that they have successfully and profitably utilized. This is the basis for the model farmer, model farm strategy. However, this is double-edged; a bad experience by a farmer regarding a certain technology could spread like wildfire and could create reluctance rather than acceptance. However, a sustainable working system being used by a farmer cooperator would enhance receptivity to the greenhouse technology.

2.4.4 Revitalizing Government Policies

According to Paras et al, (2005), Reviewing the policies on tax regarding the importation of agricultural machinery and parts (engines, pumps, sprayers, etc.), and all other materials and equipment for the manufacture of agricultural machinery would have a large effect on mechanization. At the same time, the government should try to make arrangements for companies to manufacture the greenhouse materials and parts locally. This in effect would also bring down the cost of greenhouses in the market.

2.4.5 Inability of Farmers to pay for Products

As stated earlier, many of the small scale farmers in Kenya are unable to adopt this new method of farming due to the high initial cost of installation. This means that companies that sell these products do not have enough clients to sell their products to. However, some companies such as Amiran in Kenya are now entering into partnerships with financial institutions such as Equity bank to bridge this gap. A copy of the agreement is attached in the appendix.

2.5 Chapter Summary

This chapter aims to review the relevant literature in relation to the research questions presented in this study. It identifies the barriers that exist in introducing the greenhouse farming technology from the farmers point of view, the governments role and from the view of the firm introducing this product. Subsequent chapters will try to provide the challenges from a Kenyan perspective from actual farmers and business people.


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