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Thursday, December 20, 2007

Dr. Cliff Mensah produces book on agricultural economics

UNC Pembroke economist Dr. Edwin C. Mensah has written a book on the adoption of new technologies in agriculture.

Ediwn Mensah“Economics of Technology Adoption: A Simple Approach” was published in October 2007 by VDM Verlag Dr. Muller, a worldwide publishing house for academic research.

Dr. Mensah earned his doctorate in economics from North Carolina State University and is currently in his 4th year on the faculty of UNCP’s School of Business.

Talking about his orientation in research, he said “I’m an economist who desires to research all aspects of the economy. However, I have a passion for the agricultural sector especially since my first degree was in agriculture.  A good data on agriculture is always welcomed as other sources would.”

His latest study is on the adoption of new technologies in soybean farming. Specifically, Dr. Mensah studied the simultaneous adoption of ‘No-till’ farming and Roundup Ready soybean varieties.

“Roundup, a broad-spectrum herbicide introduced by Monsanto, has been used on many fields including corn, cotton, soybean and other crops,” he said. “Its introduction coincided with the promotion of the use of “No-till” and other forms of reduced tillage to save time and fuel cost among other economics benefits.

Book Cover“Given that soybean fields are usually plagued with weeds, recommending No-till for soybean cultivation requires a conscious effort to ensure a reduction in weed infestation thus enhancing the survival of the crop,” Dr. Mensah continued. “Subsequently, the strategy adopted was to breed soybeans to be resistant to Roundup so that it could be used concomitantly with No-till technology.”

He also noted that the “No-till” farming technique “does not disturb the soil structure and avoids soil compaction.”

A team directed by a marketing company collected the data for the study from the major soybean growing areas in the U.S., including the South and Midwest.

“My role was to analyze the data,” Dr. Mensah said. “I do not know if Monsanto funded the data collection, so I was not biased by that knowledge.”

Dr. Mensah said the book serves as a text for middle and upper level students.

“I hope that students will gain some appreciation for the techniques I used to analyze the data,” he said. “I found a way to develop a mathematical model for the simultaneous adoption of technologies which I felt was worth sharing.

“I will undoubtedly improve the book for subsequent editions,” he said. “I hope others will improve on what I have done. This is just a frontier of research for someone to push further. I hope it stirs up a positive debate for a better understanding.”

The data points to positive benefits for No-till farming techniques with Roundup Ready hybrid soy beans.

“There is synergy built into the conception of the two strategies which points to some simultaneity between the two, but to make a conclusion on ‘complementarity’ between the two technologies would require a lot more evidence,” Dr. Mensah cautioned.

Dr. Mensah’s next project may catch the attention of developing countries like his native Ghana.

“My current research is focused on Ghana’s redenominated currency,” he said. “I am interested in how it has changed spending habits and money management.”

Dr. Mensah is contemplating a survey of Ghanaian citizens to collect data on the reconfiguration of the national currency, which will be finalized in December 2007.

“How do people make sense of Ghana’s new currency?” he asked. “I am currently considering how the data will be collected.”

A U.S. citizen who came to this country in 1998, Dr. Mensah remains connected to his homeland.

“Each summer I return to teach at a selected university free of charge,” he said. “This is a way of giving back to my community.”

“Economics of Technology Adoption: A Simple Approach” is available through online booksellers such as Amazon, Books-A-Million, Target etc. To contact Dr. Edwin C. Mensah, please call 910.522.5713 or email edwin.mensah@uncp.edu.

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