Modern technologies can play an important role in increasing production and
improving the quality of food produced by farmers. Many believe that modern
technologies will secure growing world food needs as well as deliver a huge
range of environmental, health and economic advantages (Wheeler,
2005). Nanotechnology as the latest innovation has the potential to bring
about changes as big as the European industrial revolution in the late 18th
and early 19th century. Almost 100 and 50 years ago, the mechanization of industry,
the introduction of steam power and improved transportation systems brought
huge technological, socioeconomic and cultural changes. Today, nanotechnology
is forecast to underpin the next industrial revolution, leading to far reaching
changes in social, economic and ecological relations (Miller
and Senjan, 2006).
Nanotechnology has the potential to revolutionize agriculture and food systems.
Agricultural and food systems security, disease treatment delivery system, new
tools for molecular and cellular biology, new material for pathogen detection,
protection of environment and education of the public and future work force
are examples of the important links of nanotechnology to the science and engineering
of agriculture and food systems (Scott and Chen, 2003).
UN survey on potential applications of nanotechnology in developing countries
have identified agricultural productivity enhancement as the second most critical
area of application for attaining the millennium development goals while energy
conversion and storage was ranked 1st and water treatment as the 3rd areas needing
focus (Sastry et al., 2007). However, the full
potential of nanotechnology in the agricultural and food industry has still
not been realized (Joseph and Morrison, 2006). Therefore,
it is necessary to remove the impediments faced by farmers and provide basic
information to enable the spread of nanotechnology. This would enable nanotechnology
to be part of a comprehensive development strategy for agricultural sector.
A major issue that will affect successful applications of new technology such
as bio and nanotechnologies to agriculture is the regulatory climatic governing
the release of new products. Developing societies will need to develop and implement
regulatory measures to manage any environmental, economic, health and social
risks associated with genetic engineering (Ozor, 2008).
But the challenges of bringing new technology to market in the agricultural
industry are changing, it is no longer adequate to conceive a new invention
and convince farmers with a strong marketing campaign that they should adopt
the technology that results from this invention. The business challenges in
the commercialization of agricultural technology are both more complex and broader
with respect to those who will be impacted by that technology (Boehlje,
2004). The commercialization of new technologies or the process of introducing
new technology to market has been a particular facet garnering much attention.
Patent protection and capital investment are necessary components for the effective
commercialization of innovations (Boulay et al.,
Commercialization entails a sequence of steps to achieve market entry of new
technologies, processes and products. Jolly (1997) outlined
a 5 stage model of the commercialization process. Technology exploration begins
with the imaging stage. This stage primarily addresses the basic research related
to a new concept. The 2nd stage proposed by Jolly is the incubating stage in
which generic market applications and technology concepts are examined. In the
demonstrating stage, the technology is moved into products with market application
through various means such as prototyping. The promoting stage is the beginning
of market entry and expansion. Finally, the sustaining stage focuses on the
long-term market placement of the products. New technologies are a part of each
of these stages at some point in their development (Boulay
et al., 2008).
The most basic business challenge in introducing any new technology is that of creating value for the customer. But even if the technology will create value for the customer the rate of adoption and speed of commercialization in essence the time to market may dramatically impact the financial/business success of the technology. Technological innovation typically requires large capital outlays and consequently access to capital/financial markets is critical to the success of discovery and commercialization of new technology. Some have argued that technology and biotechnology in particular is best served by patient and private capital rather than impatient public capital providers.
The 4th challenge in commercializing agricultural technology is that of value capture. Even though, new technology may create value for the user if the provider does not have a mechanism for capturing some of that value, it is unlikely that the technology will be commercialized. Consequently, technology that has value only if it can be marketed worldwide faces more difficult commercialization challenges compared to technology that is commercially viable based on introduction and utilization in markets that will protect intellectual property. A final challenge in the commercialization of technology is the decision process by which R and D expenditures are allocated and commercialization is funded.
Technology development and commercialization is clearly an issue of making
critical and costly strategic decisions in a profoundly uncertain environment;
uncertainty associated with the breakthroughs necessary to develop the technology,
uncertainty associated with the market acceptance of the technology and uncertainty
associated with the ability of competitors to bring similar technology to market
(Boehlje, 2004). Naseri in his thesis entitled commercialization,
processes and models in developing and developed countries introduced some factors
as the main challenges in the way of commercialization of nanotechnology: human,
management, social, cultural and economic factors (Droby
et al., 2009).
Oriakhi (2004) in his research about commercialization
of nanotechnologies reported that beliefs and convictions of consumers about
nano, cultural and social challenges, lack of coordination between agencies,
lack of targeted research projects, management challenges, lack of financial
resources and uncertainty of industies about universities have affected agricultural
commercialization in nanotechnology.Different factors influence the process
of commercialization of nano product. The most important factor in launching
a new business is intellectual property rights which is the 1st step in commercialization
of nano (Palmintera, 2007).
Iran has adopted its own nanotechnology programs with a specific focus on agricultural
applications. The Iranian Agricultural Ministry is supporting a consortium of
35 laboratories working on a project to expand the use of nanotechnology in
agro sector (Joseph and Morrison, 2006).In the year 2001,
the Iran presidential technology cooperation office initiated a smart move in
the field of nanotechnology. Through these efforts, nanotechnology gained national
priority in the country and in 2003, the Iranian Nanotechnology Initiative was
set up with the aim of pursuing the development of nanotechnology in Iran. The
question is what are the challenges in commercialization of nanotechnology in
agricultural sector. The purpose of this study is to determine the challenges
in commercialization of nanotechnology in agricultural sector.
MATERIALS AND METHODS
A series of in-depth interviews were conducted with some senior experts in
the nanotechnology to examine the validity of questionnaire. A questionnaire
was developed based on these interviews and relevant literature. The questionnaire
included both open-ended and fixed-choice questions. The open-ended questions
were used to gather information not covered by the fixed-choice questions and
to encourage participants to provide feedback. The total population for this
study was 14 faculty members of universities and research centers in the Mazandaran
Province. Data were collected through interview schedules by Delphi tehnique.
The data was analyzed by using ordinal factor analysis technique.
The basic idea of factor analysis is the following. For given set of observed
variables Y1,..., Yn, one wants to find a set of latent variables
ξ1,....., ξk, k<n that contain essentially,
the same information. The last version of their statistical software named LISREL
8.8 can handle such analysis. Briefly, researchers used goodness of fitness
which its null hypothesis shows that the model is valid (researchers prefer
to accept the null hypothesis, i.e., p>0.05). RMSEA (Root Mean Square Error
of Approximation) which takes into account the error of approximation in the
population and asks. How well would the model fit the population covariance
matrix if it were available? (p-value <0.05 indicates good fit and >0.08
represents reasonable errors of approximation in the population).
RESULTS AND DISCUSSION
The results of descriptive statistics indicated that average age of respondents were 43 years old and all of them had a PhD degree majoring in agriculture. Table 1 shows the grouping of factors (determined via ordinal factor analysis) into 6 latent variables. As the ordinal factor analysis showed the factors were categorized into eight groups, namely infrastructural, production, business, management, economic, technical, social/cultural and research factors ordered by the magnitude of their impact.
As the ordinal factor analysis showed, factors were categorized into 8 challenges
namely infrastructural, production, business, management, economic, technical,
social/cultural and research challenges. The challenges were then ordered by
the magnitude of their impact (Fig. 1). A wide range of economic,
social, physical and technical challenges influences adoption of agricultural
production technology. Wheeler (2005) and others (Rogers
and Pannell) pointed the factors which influence the adoption of new innovations
by farmers. She mentioned factors such as perception about risk and profitability;
uncertainty and certainty about adoption; amount of required information and
attitude about risk and uncertainty.
The findings show that infrastructural factors are the most important challenges
a result that echoes the findings of Oriakhi (2004) and
Droby et al. (2009). A regulatory process should
ensure the democratic control of and public participation in decision making
on nanotechnology and other new technologies. It is recommend, the initiation
of a wide range of participatory processes to enable direct input from the general
public into new technology assessment and determination of priorities and principles
for public policy, R and D and legislation (Johnston et
al., 2007). Production factors are always potentially important challenges
in development of modern technology such as nano. It is well known that uncertainties
and lack of knowledge of potential effects and impacts of new technologies or
the lack of a clear communication of risks and benefits can raise concern amongst
public (Chaudhry et al., 2008).
The findings also reflect an important fact that negative attitudes of consumers
and producers directly impacts the commercialization of nanotechnology in agricultural
sector. This has been pointed out by Droby et al.
(2009). Like any other new technology, public confidence, trust and acceptance
are likely to be one of the key factors determining the commercialization of
nanotechnology in agriculture and the public should be educated that explain
the value added of nanotechnology (Scott and Chen, 2003).
||Classification of challenges that Influence the commercialization
of nanotechnology by using ordinal factor analysis
|The value of RMSEA was 0.726 which shows the reasonable fit
||Classfication of factors by using ordinal factor analysis
It is observed from the study that commercialization of nanotechnology requires
a holistic and tightly integrated regulatory framework for dealing with the
range of health, ecological, economic and socio-political issues that this technology
raises (Johnston et al., 2007). As in the case
of any complex technology impacting wide range of processes and developments,
the gains from modern biotechnology are accompanied with certain negative effects
and concerns. The nature and extent of the positive and negative impacts will
depend on the choice of the technique, place and mode of application of the
technique, ultimate use of the product, concerned policies and regulatory measures
including risk assessment and management ability and finally on the need, priority,
aspiration and capacity of individual countries (Ameden et
Overall, these findings suggest the commercialization of nanotechnology in Iran faces challenges and obstacles. The constraints and opportunities vary from country to country and therefore require location specific approaches.