Does Actor Perspective Matter? A Case Study of Designing Intervention for Small-Scale Palm Oil Production Enterprises in Kwaebibirem District of Ghana

Osei-Amponsah, C.; Visser, Leontine


Despite the fact that the government of Ghana imports the bulk of its industrial palm oil needs, it still fails to give assistance to about 80 percent of small-scale producers to enhance development in the industry. To design interventions that will be sustainable for and beneficial to these producers, it is important to understand their perspectives first, so as not to "fix development" for them. This case study in the Kwaebibirem District of Ghana uses an actor-oriented approach to understand the dynamics in the palm oil enterprise (kramer). Improvements in the kramer evidently evolve from the actors' own agency. Any intervention for development should therefore first understand the dynamics of the kramer as a social field, and take this perspective as a bottom-up starting point. This article is divided into six sections; the first section is an introduction, while the second describes our methodology. We next outline our conceptual approach, followed by an analysis of experiences of actors and their interactions. We then describe the resource flows and their interrelationships, including the power relations at play in the kramer networks. Finally, we conclude by drawing lessons on the relevance of an actor perspective in designing a learning intervention for processors, scientists, and extensionists.