The purpose of this paper is to understand the agricultural knowledge and information systems (AKIS) of small‐scale farmers in Kirinyaga district, Kenya by identifying the…
The purpose of this paper is to understand the agricultural knowledge and information systems (AKIS) of small‐scale farmers in Kirinyaga district, Kenya by identifying the key agricultural actors, establishing the information needs of farmers and how they access, share and exchange agricultural knowledge and information.
The study adopts a triangulation of qualitative, quantitative and participatory methodologies and methods for sampling, data collection and data analysis. The methods combine Relaxed Appraisal of Agricultural Knowledge Systems (RAAKS) and Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA), focus group discussions with farmers groups, observation and analysis of secondary data. The sense‐making methodology is used an alternative approach to study information behaviour, while the soft systems methodology is used to link up the different activities by diverse agricultural actors.
Richer and deeper data are collected through mixed methodologies and methods. The study identifies more than 100 active information and knowledge providers in Kirinyaga district, with extension emerging as the most important source of information. However, linkages between the various actors and farmers are weak. In particular, the findings of the study demonstrate that the AKIS of small‐scale farmers is location specific and varies with the enterprise(s) produced.
Triangulation of methods is expensive hence the study is limited to only one district in Kenya. The paper suggests further research into ways of strengthening and formalising linkages between key actors.
The study points to the need to strengthen and formalise linkages between farmers and extensionists, private sector, media, farmers' groups, civil society organisations, researchers, educators and microfinance institutions.
The study findings could inform policy development and reforms in agriculture, extension services and help to improve linkages and the flow of agricultural information and knowledge. Consequently, this would translate to improved farming methods and increased agricultural productivity.
The study contributes empirical data that builds on to the existing body of knowledge on AKIS among small‐scale farmers. The paper presents a useful mix of methods (RAAKS, PRA, focus group discussions and observation) for studying the management of agricultural knowledge and information.