Kenya Agricultural Information Network (KAINet) is an information network set up to promote information exchange among stakeholders in the agricultural sector in order to support decision making, promote innovation in agriculture and subsequently improve livelihoods. It aims to modernise and increase productivity of the agricultural sector.
Kenya Vision 2030 seeks to integrate science, technology and innovation (STI) in the economy, by making use of research knowledge in wealth creation, social welfare and international competitiveness. To this end, the government encourages the development of an agricultural innovation system that feeds the sector with appropriate technology, knowledge and information with the potential to improve livelihoods. Such plans call for communication of research knowledge and innovations into a focused, consistent approach, an aspect that KAINet has brought on board.
The network was established with financial support from the Department of International Development (DFID) through Food and Agriculture organisation of the United Nations (FAO) and has been implemented through collaboration between the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI), Association for Strengthening Research in Agriculture in East and Central Africa (ASARECA, CAB International and KARI. The KAINet is currently hosted by KARI. Its initial participating institutions are universities, research institutions, and Government ministries represented by Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT), Kenya Forestry Research Institute (KEFRI), Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI) and Ministry of Agriculture (MoA). More institutions are expected join the network when KAINet is rolled out.
Context and importance of the problem
Agriculture plays a major role in the economic development of the country. Information access is the key to increased food production and improved livelihoods. Limited access to agricultural information is a major constraint and an impediment towards achieving food security. There is a wealth of information that exists in public institutions and the National Agricultural Research System (NARS) but there is lack of systematic mechanisms for disseminating research results to end-users. This means that some of the technologies developed have not been put into effective use by agricultural stakeholders especially farmers.
Individual NARS institutions have not been sharing information in a coherent manner despite being funded from a common source thereby leaving room for duplication of projects and approaches rather than building synergy among each other. If not guarded against through sharing of information and joint planning, this could lead to resource wastage. However, effective information sharing among public institutions must be preceded by development of an organised information management system within the institutions to ensure that all the generated information for public good generated is packaged in standard formats that are sharable on a given platform.
The Kenya Agricultural Information Network (KAINet) plans to establish coherent information management that maximises information collection, storing and sharing within member institutions and in the network on a global platform. In doing so, KAINet encourages institutions to develop strategies that define how information flows within each of them. This offers an opportunity to systematically collect all the information from the institutions, standardise, and share it using appropriate web-based tools and methodologies. KAINet will therefore increase efficiency in information management which reduces duplication and therefore guards against resource wastage.