Revitalizing Smallholder Farming in Africa: Insights from China's Science and Technology Backyard Model

Augustine Talababie Phiri

College of Resources and Environmental Sciences, China Agricultural University, Beijing, 100091, China

Xiaohui Zhao

Office of International Affairs, China Agricultural University, Beijing, 100091, China

Qihui Chen

Beijing Food Safety Policy & Strategy Research Base, China Agricultural University, Beijing, 100091, China


Received: 23 February 2024; Received in revised form: 13 April 2024; Accepted: 15 April 2024; Published: 6 May 2024

Copyright © 2024 Augustine Talababie Phiri, Xiaohui Zhao, Qihui Chen. Published by Nan Yang Academy of Sciences Pte. Ltd.

Creative Commons LicenseThis is an open access article under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0) License.


Smallholder farmers are crucial to African agriculture, yet low productivity hampers their ability to meet rising food demands from a growing population. Despite numerous support programs, traditional extension approaches and limited access to technology hinder success. The main objective of this article is to discuss how China's Science and Technology Backyard (STB) model can be adopted in African contexts as a viable solution. The STB model, proven successful in China, directly addresses the disconnection between scientists and farmers through direct collaboration in crop fields. The authors first summarize insights from the implementation of the STB model in China and then propose strategies for its adoption in Africa. The subsequent comparative analysis, combined with three case studies, shows that the STB model, which emphasizes farmer-centered innovations, has the potential to bridge knowledge gaps, enhance productivity, and stimulate rural development in Africa despite resource constraints. Finally, the authors note that strategic investments in infrastructure, coordination among stakeholders, and acknowledging associated costs are critical for the successful implementation of the STB model. Simply put, the authors believe the STB model can greatly enhance African smallholders' farming productivity, but before the model can successfully serve its functions, involved stakeholders should ensure all supporting conditions are provided.

Keywords: Smallholders, Farming productivity, Science and technology backyard, Rural revitalization


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