Training, innovation and new technology to improve outcomes for African smallholder farmers

Added June 27, 2020

Citation: Stewart R, Langer L, Da Silva NR, et al. The Effects of Training, Innovation and New Technology on African Smallholder Farmers’ Economic Outcomes and Food Security: A Systematic Review. Campbell Systematic Reviews. 2015;11(1):1-224.

What is this? The COVID-19 pandemic has decreased agricultural production, reduced the supply of workers, damaged food supply chains and increased food insecurity. Existing research on training, innovation and new technology and new types of crops for smallholder farmers might provide useful information for those planning the response to the COVID-19 pandemic and seeking to boost agricultural production.

In this Campbell systematic review, the authors searched for studies of the effects of training, innovation and new technology (including different types of fertilizing methods and types of crops) in Africa. They did not restrict their searches by date or language of publication and did the search in December 2014. They included 7 randomized trials and 12 quasi-experimental studies.

What was found: There seems to be some promise that agricultural input innovations, in particular orange–fleshed sweet potato, might have positive effects on smallholders’ levels of food security. The orange-fleshed sweet potato programmes yielded positive effects on nutrition in four different contexts and programmes have successfully been taken to scale.

There were some positive indications that training interventions might have beneficial effects on farming households’ income.

The true potential of these interventions is difficult to assess because of a lack of rigorous research evidence.


Disclaimer: This summary has been written by staff and volunteers of Evidence Aid in order to make the content of the original document accessible to decision makers who are searching for the available evidence on the coronavirus (COVID-19) but may not have the time, initially, to read the original report in full. This summary is not intended as a substitute for the medical advice of physicians, other health workers, professional associations, guideline developers, or national governments and international agencies. If readers of this summary think that the evidence that is presented within it is relevant to their decision-making they should refer to the content and details of the original article, and the advice and guidelines offered by other sources of expertise, before making decisions. Evidence Aid cannot be held responsible for any decisions made about the coronavirus (COVID-19) on the basis of this summary alone.