Unravelling institutional determinants affecting change in agriculture in West Africa

P.C. Struik, L.W.A. Klerkx, D. Hounkonnou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


This paper compares lessons learned from nine studies that explored institutional determinants of innovation towards sustainable intensification of West African agriculture. The studies investigated issues relating to crop, animal, and resources management in Benin, Ghana, and Mali. The constraints addressed were agronomic or economic (e.g. low production, yield, quality, prices) and institutional (e.g. poor access to resources and constraining regulations) and were analysed using an array of research approaches. The studies showed that political ambitions to foster institutional change were often high (restoring the Beninese cotton sector and protecting Ghanaian farmers against fluctuating cocoa prices) and that the institutional change achieved was often remarkable. However, flexibility of institutions, co-evolution of technical and institutional change, and increased transparency are needed to make institutional change successful. The programme Convergence of Sciences – Strengthening Agricultural Innovation Systems encouraged interventions where needed and enabled researchers and stakeholders to acquire the change capacities required to identify the need and potential for change and to make change happen. More research is needed to design pathways towards sustainable intensification based on social and technological innovation. Policy-makers should create space for institutional experimentation and empower smallholder farmers in West Africa to create resilient, local food systems to feed burgeoning urban populations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)370-382
JournalInternational Journal of Agricultural Sustainability
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • innovation platforms
  • systems
  • knowledge
  • lessons


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