ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Reflections on Moving Agricultural Research from Laboratory to Farm

The experiences of researchers at the Industrial Technology Institute, and the Centre for Poverty Analysis, Colombo, Sri Lanka, are drawn on to provide reflections on moving agricultural technologies from laboratory trials to farms in the global South. The challenges and potentials for a hexanal-based Enhanced Freshness Formulation spray and a wrap made from banana fibre (using waste products) are discussed, demonstrating that in generating innovative technologies for sustainable agricultural development, agricultural researchers must think beyond laboratory viability and successful field testing to adaptability in the real world for a range of agriculture stakeholders, and be open to considering the potentials of unexpected, spin-off technologies.

We acknowledge with gratitude the financial support received from the International Development Research Centre (Canada) and the Government of Canada, through the Canadian International Food Security Research Fund. We are indebted to all our international collaborative partners. We also thank E Ruggles for feedback on earlier drafts of this paper.

The authors did not receive any direct financial interest or benefit related to this research.


Drawing on work done as part of an international, multi-country project on reducing post-harvest fruit losses, this paper provides reflections on the processes by which agricultural technologies for mangoes and bananas developed in a laboratory environment were tested and adapted for use beyond the laboratory. We first discuss the Sri Lankan context and the development of the specific agricultural technologies and then discuss the testing of two technologies in three scenarios: with a large-scale mango producer and linked medium-scale outgrowers; with small-scale mango producers; and with landless labourers working at an agro-industry factory. We demonstrate that in the process of developing innovative agricultural technologies, laboratory-based researchers must think beyond laboratory viability and even successful field testing. In developing technologies that are intended to contribute to longer-term agricultural and economic development and sustainability, it is critical to also consider issues that shape the longer-term realities of technology adoption across a range of agricultural stakeholders and socio-economic levels. Moreover, researchers must be open to considering the potentials of unanticipated spin-off technologies. We hope that sharing our specific experiences will offer insights for academia-based agricultural scientists, particularly those who are embarking on first-time, large, multidisciplinary projects that are geared towards broader issues in agricultural sustainability, livelihoods, and international development.

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Published On : 20th Jan, 2024

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