Rural entrepreneurship or entrepreneurship in the rural – between place and space

International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behavior & Research, Volume 21, Issue 1, March 2015.

Purpose This article investigates how rural entrepreneurship engages with place and space. It explores the concept of “rural” as a socio-spatial concept in rural entrepreneurship and illustrates the importance of distinguishing between ideal types of rural entrepreneurship. Design/methodology/approach This article investigates how rural entrepreneurship engages with place and space. It explores the concept of “rural” as a socio-spatial concept in rural entrepreneurship and illustrates the importance of distinguishing between ideal types of rural entrepreneurship. Findings Two ideal types are developed: (i) entrepreneurship in the rural and (ii) rural entrepreneurship. The former represents entrepreneurial activities with limited embeddedness enacting a profit-oriented and mobile logic of space. The latter represents entrepreneurial activities that leverage local resources to re-connect place to space. While both types contribute to local development, the latter holds the potential for an optimized use of the resources in the rural area, and these ventures are unlikely to relocate even if economic rationality would suggest it. Research limitations/implications The conceptual distinction allows for engaging more deeply with the diversity of entrepreneurial activities in rural areas. It increases our understanding of localized entrepreneurial processes and their impact on local economic development. Originality/value This study contributes to the understanding of the localized processes of entrepreneurship and how these processes are enabled and constrained by the immediate context or “place”. The paper weaves space and place in order to show the importance of context for entrepreneurship, which responds to the recent calls for contextualizing entrepreneurship research and theories. In addition ideal types can be a useful device for further research and serve as a platform for developing rural policies.
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Ancient wisdom boosts sustainability of biotech cotton


Combining computer modeling and field research on cotton pests, a UA-led study suggests that biotechnology and traditional agriculture can be compatible approaches toward sustainable agriculture.

Advocates of biotech crops and those who favor traditional farming practices such as crop diversity often seem worlds apart, but a new study shows that these two approaches can be compatible. An international team led by Chinese scientists and Bruce Tabashnik at the University of Arizona’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences discovered that the diverse patchwork of crops in northern China slowed adaptation to genetically engineered cotton by a wide-ranging insect pest. The results are published in the advance online edition ofNature Biotechnology. Read more

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Agricultural revolution in Africa could increase global carbon emissions

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Productivity-boosting agricultural innovations in Africa could lead to an increase in global deforestation rates and carbon emissions, a Purdue University study finds.

Historically, improvements in agricultural technology have conserved land and decreased carbon emissions at the global level: Gaining better yields in one area lessens the need to clear other areas for crops, sidestepping a land conversion process that can significantly raise the amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere. Read more

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Nanotechnology in agriculture: prospects and constraints.

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Nanotechnology in agriculture: prospects and constraints.

Nanotechnol Sci Appl. 2014;7:63-71

Authors: Mukhopadhyay SS


Attempts to apply nanotechnology in agriculture began with the growing realization that conventional farming technologies would neither be able to increase productivity any further nor restore ecosystems damaged by existing technologies back to their pristine state; in particular because the long-term effects of farming with “miracle seeds”, in conjunction with irrigation, fertilizers, and pesticides, have been questioned both at the scientific and policy levels, and must be gradually phased out. Nanotechnology in agriculture has gained momentum in the last decade with an abundance of public funding, but the pace of development is modest, even though many disciplines come under the umbrella of agriculture. This could be attributed to: a unique nature of farm production, which functions as an open system whereby energy and matter are exchanged freely; the scale of demand of input materials always being gigantic in contrast with industrial nanoproducts; an absence of control over the input nanomaterials in contrast with industrial nanoproducts (eg, the cell phone) and because their fate has to be conceived on the geosphere (pedosphere)-biosphere-hydrosphere-atmosphere continuum; the time lag of emerging technologies reaching the farmers’ field, especially given that many emerging economies are unwilling to spend on innovation; and the lack of foresight resulting from agricultural education not having attracted a sufficient number of brilliant minds the world over, while personnel from kindred disciplines might lack an understanding of agricultural production systems. If these issues are taken care of, nanotechnologic intervention in farming has bright prospects for improving the efficiency of nutrient use through nanoformulations of fertilizers, breaking yield barriers through bionanotechnology, surveillance and control of pests and diseases, understanding mechanisms of host-parasite interactions at the molecular level, development of new-generation pesticides and their carriers, preservation and packaging of food and food additives, strengthening of natural fibers, removal of contaminants from soil and water, improving the shelf-life of vegetables and flowers, clay-based nanoresources for precision water management, reclamation of salt-affected soils, and stabilization of erosion-prone surfaces, to name a few.

PMID: 25187699 [PubMed]

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Rising risk of failed seasons as climate change puts pressure on Africa’s farmers

With countries pushing agriculture to center stage, comprehensive report seeks ‘climate-smart’ approaches for vulnerable small-scale farms that produce most of Africa’s food

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (2 September 2014)—Small-scale family farmers across Africa— already struggling to adapt to rapidly rising temperatures and more erratic rains—risk being overwhelmed by the pace and severity of climate change, according to the 2014 African Agriculture Status Report (AASR).The analysis, prepared by the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), with contributions from several African scholars, provides the most comprehensive review to date of how climate change will affect Africa’s smallholder farmers and highlights the most promising paths to producing more food, even in the midst of very challenging growing environments.

“Smallholder farmers are the mainstay of food production across sub-Saharan Africa,” said Ms. Jane Karuku, president of AGRA. “As climate change turns up the heat, the continent’s food security and its ability to generate economic growth that benefits poor Africans—most of whom are farmers—depends on our ability to adapt to more stressful conditions.” Read more

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Developing a clean system for sweetpotato and cassava: A Bio-Innovate Program initiative

Developing a clean system for sweetpotato and cassava: A Bio-Innovate Program initiative

In most of Africa, sweetpotato and cassava are the staple food and nutrition security crops that play a key role as food security and income generating crops particularly when the mainstream crops e.g. cereals have poor harvests. Cassava is versatile and can also be used for non-food purposes. Extracted starch and other derivatives are used as sweeteners, food, paper, biodegradable products and pharmaceutical industries among others uses.

The FAO estimates global harvest in 2012 at more than 280 million tons. In Africa, NEPAD has prioritize the crop as a “poverty fighter” as cassava is resilient enough to grow successfully under various agro-ecological zones where cereals and other crops cannot flourish – making it a suitable crop for poor farmers to cultivate under marginal environments in sub-Saharan Africa.

Africa has the lowest productivity (10T/Ha) compared to Asia and Latin America at 19T/Ha and 12T/Ha respectively, and yet, there is more surface area on cassava in Africa (12 MHa) compared to Asia (3.5 MHa) and (Latin America (3.0 MHa). However, diseases like cassava brown streak virus disease (CBSD) caused by the cassava brown streak virus (CBSV) has devastated the crop reducing yields – in some cases decimating 60% of the crop.

That is not all. Access to clean virus free planting material is a challenge especially when farmers share diseased planting material from their yields, harvest after harvest. For sweetpotato, the International Potato Center defines the crop as the third most important food crop in seven eastern and Central African countries – outranking cassava and maize. It ranks fourth in importance in six Southern African countries and is number eight in four of those in West Africa.

The potential of sweetpotato crop to fight hunger and malnutrition in sub-Saharan African cannot be underestimated. Indeed HarvestPlus one of the Program’s partners has been working on orange fleshed sweetpotatoes fortified with essential vitamins and minerals to fight malnutrition. The crop hardly requires much involvement beyond planting and can be grown in areas with minimal rainfall. Diseases like sweet potato virus disease (SPVD) have greatly reduced its productivity. This situation is exacerbated when farmers share diseased planting materials.

However, the production of these two crops has been on the decline. The Bio-Innovate Program has in the last three years under its “Enhancing Food Security through Improved Seed Systems of Appropriate Varieties of Cassava, Potato and Sweetpotato Resilient to Climate Change in Eastern Africa” project been working on developing a clean, virus free seed system for cassava, potato and sweetpotato crop in eastern Africa in addition to developing drought- and disease-resistant varieties that are adaptable to specific agro-ecological zones. In Kenya, Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI), Genetic Technologies International Ltd (GTIL), a micro-propagation private company producing disease and pest-free planting materials, Mimea International Limited a private tissue culture agribusiness firm and Wakala-Africa, a seed company marketing quality vegetable and field crop seeds, partners in this project, have undertaken several activities geared toward delivering clean planting materials to farmers.

KARI has been working with regional partners in this project to developed low-cost tissue culture protocols for farm level production of quality planting materials, and have shared improved technologies for cassava and sweetpotato with their Kenya-based partners and farmers through a 3-tier model.

Dr. Ruth Amata a senior research officer at KARI is taking lead in all these activities. She is generating improved varieties at KARI’s laboratories. The private sector partners then bulk (further multiplication) the clean planting materials and dissemination to small-scale farmers in the region.

How does this collaboration work?

Dr. Amata generates virus free sweetpotato and cassava planting material, which she transfers to GTIL to multiply. GTIL then bulks up the vines at their facilities to strengthen the vines for planting in the farmers’ fields. GTIL then sells the clean planting material to contact farmers.

According to Mr. Edward Mbugua an agronomist who works with GTIL, they have been able to provide over 500 farmers in central and eastern Kenya access to clean vines since November last year.

Moses Njiriri a farmer in Ndeiya, Limuru in the outskirts of Nairobi is one of the beneficiaries under the project. According to Mr Njiriri, through his collaboration with KARI he has sold clean planting vines to fellow farmers in his locality.

Why is it important to establish a clean seed delivery system for sweetpotato anyway?

The current situation is that over 98% of planting materials are disseminated through farmer-to-farmer exchanges and sale of cuttings in local markets. This becomes a problem because diseases are transmitted through infected plant material and cause losses of up to 70% of the crop, severely reducing yields. This creates a cycle, which is repeated, in each planting season.

To further consolidate the gains achieved in the last three years of implementing this project, Bio-Innovate held a meeting in March 2014 that involved Farm Concern International (FCI) an Africa-wide Market Development Agency in this collaboration. What does FCI bring to the table? Farm Concern is working with smallholder farmers organized into commercial villages to add value to cassava and sweet potatoes and find markets for farmers produce. According to FCI, the biggest problem that they have encounter while working with famers is that crop productivity of these crops is extremely low.

Even if markets are found for the produce, farmers will not be able to meet the market demands thus making it difficult for the value addition industry to consider these crops as reliable raw materials. FCI is tackling the productivity problem by impressing on farmers on the need to buy and use clean planting material and links them to private sector actors like Mimea and GTIL as a basis of livelihoods improvement through trade. Mimea International Limited will work with GTIL in multiplication of clean sweetpotato planting material and provided these materials to Farm Concern International (FCI) who will then tap into their huge network of farmers to sell these clean planting material.

Farm Concern International will participate in this initiative by leveraging its commercial village-processing project, and is funded to the tune of $144 million to acquire clean cassava and sweet potato seeds for these commercial villages for selected locations in both Kenya and Tanzania targeting over 75,000 farmers.

This inception meeting serves as a forum for the partners to share, discuss and combine previous achievements and activities in creating seed systems for sweetpotato. According to Dr. Allan Liavoga, Bio-Innovate’s Ag. Program Manager the success of this initiative – slated to end in December 2014, will be a model seed system that can be replicated in the region leading to a vibrant private sector driven micro-propagation industry and the famers have access to these materials.

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Agroforestry systems can repair degraded watersheds

NAIROBI, Kenya. (27 March 2014) —-Agroforestry, combined with land and water management practices that increase agricultural productivity, can save watersheds from degradation.

A study conducted by the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) in the Gabayan watershed in eastern Bohol, Philippines, has shown that agroforestry systems create a more sustainably managed watershed that allows people living there to benefit from the ecosystem. The benefits include higher crop yields, increased income and resilience to climate change.

Land use in the Gabayan watershed features a mosaic landscape that includes pasture, maize and some forest fragments. Credit: World Agroforestry Centre/David Wilson

Agroforestry is an integrated land-use management technique that incorporates trees and shrubs with crops and livestock on farms.

The study, called Modeling the effects of adopting agroforestry on basin scale surface runoff and sediment yield in the Philippines, uses a computer-based Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) to simulate the effects of different land uses on watershed hydrology and the ecosystem services provided by the Gabayan watershed. The tool predicts the environmental impact of land use, land management practices, and climate change.

Watersheds are areas of land with streams and rivers that all drain into a larger body of water, such as a bigger river, a lake or an ocean. Watersheds not only supply water for domestic use but also provide a multitude of ecological and cultural services, including water for irrigation and industry, shelter, habitats for biodiversity and, in very poor areas, sources of livelihoods.

Over the years, however, many watersheds throughout the world have suffered from intensive resource extraction and mismanagement. In countries like the Philippines, several watershed areas in the country are now degraded due to deforestation and soil erosion.

The Gabayan watershed incorporates a heavily degraded, multi-use landscape covering over 5000 hectares hosting about 60,000 people whose livelihoods depend on subsistence agriculture

Farmers here have reported environmental problems, such as floods, droughts, reductions in water quality and increases in soil erosion and downstream sedimentation of irrigation networks.

“The degraded watershed has been largely deforested and replaced with extensive agricultural and grasslands over the last half century”, says David Wilson, the lead researcher. “It has disrupted the evenness of river flow, resulting in alternate flooding and drought episodes, an accelerated level of soil erosion as well as downstream sedimentation”.

SWAT was used to simulate the impacts of current land-use practices and conservation agriculture with agroforestry in strategic locations. The study results showed a significant reduction in sediment yield (20%) and sediment concentration (35%)in the Gabayan watershed under agroforestry and conservation agriculture.

The study was therefore able to provide scientific evidence that agroforestry, combined with improved land management practices, are an effective land-use strategy for the watersheds.

“Specifically, the use of restored areas that have vegetation next to water resources and contour planting in grasslands appear to be the most effective techniques to reduce sediment transfer to the watershed river network”, says Wilson.


The World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF), headquartered in Nairobi, Kenya and working in 24 countries in Africa, Asia and South America, is the world’s leading research institution on the diverse role trees play in agricultural landscapes and rural livelihoods. As part of its work to bring tree-based solutions to bear on poverty and environmental problems, the Centre’s researchers – working in close collaboration with national partners – have developed new technologies, tools and policy recommendations for increased food security and ecosystem health. For more information, visit

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