Role of small-scale enterprises in agricultural development agendas: Insights from oil palm processing enterprises in the Kwaebibirem District of Ghana

  • C. Osei-Amponsah Rural Development Sociology Group, Wageningen University and Research Centre, Wageningen
  • P. Agbotse Department of Nutrition and Food Science, University of Ghana, Legon -Accra
  • F. Swanzy Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), Oil Palm Research Institute (OPRI), Kade
  • T. J. Stomph Centre for Crop Systems Analysis, Wageningen University and Research Centre, Wageningen


Small-scale oil palm processing enterprises are important avenues of rural employment and livelihoods, but often receive little attention at the policy level. These enterprises are usually characterized as having 'poorly maintained structures', 'very inefficient operations', 'outside the formal economy' and production of 'low quality palm oil'. This article investigates the innovation capacity of small-scale oil palm processing enterprises and their relevance for the development of the oil palm industry in Ghana. The article uses a bottom-up innovation approach through a joint experimentation and profitability analysis, together with a researcher-managed experiment, to help processors learn how to produce quality palm oil and analyse different market options. Findings indicate that, the small-scale processors are capable of experimenting to acquire the knowledge and innovation needed to support agricultural development. The way to go, therefore, is not to 'exclude' these enterprises from the development blueprint, but to assist them build capacity through a bottom-up innovation approach, which integrates science and practice, as well as multistakeholders.


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eISSN: 0855-0042