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Transfer of Taiwanese ideas and technology to The Gambia, West Africa: a viable approach to rural development?

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Abstract:

The development of Taiwan's agricultural sector contributed significantly to the country's transformation from virtual poverty after World War II to a modern industrial nation. Success resulted from the use of appropriate technologies, developed through an exceptionally close working relationship between government, research and development institutions, extension services and farmers in Taiwan. As part of their overseas development aid programme, the Republic of China on Taiwan has established Technical Missions in those developing countries where it receives political recognition. Among these is The Gambia, West Africa, where one focus of Taiwan's current Technical Mission is the development of women's market gardens. Although the gardens have proved successful, there is doubt as to whether their achievements will be sustained once Taiwan's Technical Mission in The Gambia has ended. Field research in Taiwan and in The Gambia, based largely on participatory techniques, has revealed that the low-tech methods introduced from Taiwan are appropriate for the Gambian environment. However, much depends on whether women participating in the schemes can commit sufficient time and energy to the gardens, as at present this is a limiting factor. The potential of the gardens may also be constrained by a lack of appropriate institutional infrastructure, particularly the scope for profitable disposal of garden produce. A major conclusion of the article is that successful transfer of appropriate technology to The Gambia is likely to be impeded by poorly developed coordination between groups that proved to be key ‘players’ in the development of agriculture in Taiwan: government, research and development institutions, extension services and producers.

Keywords: Taiwan; The Gambia; market gardening; participatory methods; sustainable development; women

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.0016-7398.2004.00120.x

Affiliations: Department of Geography, Environment, Politics and Development Research Group, King's College London, University of London, Email: kathy.baker@kcl.ac.uk

Publication date: September 1, 2004

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