Farmer-led innovations and rural household welfare: Evidence from Ghana
This article in the Journal of Rural Studies analyzes the effect of farmer-led innovations on rural household welfare, measured by income, consumption expenditure, and food security. It is well recognized that agricultural innovations could emerge from many sources, including rural farmers. Yet the numerous micro-level studies on impacts of agricultural innovations have largely focused on externally promoted technologies, and a rigorous assessment of impacts of farmer-led innovations is lacking. Therefore, this study was done using household survey data from northern Ghana. Results show that farmer-led innovations significantly increase household income and consumption expenditure per adult equivalent. The innovations also contribute significantly to the reduction of household food insecurity by increasing food consumption expenditure, by decreasing the duration of food shortages, and by reducing the severity of hunger. Furthermore, it is found that these effects are more pronounced for farm households whose innovative activities are minor modifications of existing techniques. Overall, the results show positive welfare effects of farmer-led innovations, and thus support increasing arguments on the need to promote these innovations (which have been largely undervalued) as a complement to externally promoted technologies in food security and rural poverty reduction efforts.