The Role of Research and Findings Dissemination in Industry Development in Kenya: The Floriculture Industry in Perspective.
This paper provides an incisive look at the link between research findings dissemination and industry development. The focus is precisely the floriculture industry in Kenya. The large flower growers (who dominate flower business) are private companies who are interested in keeping trade secrets to ensure their survival and competitiveness in the market. On the other hand, the local research system consists mostly of public institutions, such as, Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI) and the universities whose mandate includes service to the nation and are obligated to disseminate any information that would help improve the livelihoods of the general populace. The public research system therefore considers such information, knowledge and technologies as public goods. This divergent approach to information and knowledge acquisition, sharing and use undermines a close interaction and sharing of knowledge and information between the industry and the public research institutions. Moreover, the slow, bureaucratic procedures in the public research institutes undermine their ability to respond to urgent farmers’ requests. Farmers’ needs (such as disease outbreaks) are usually urgent and require immediate solutions. The delays from the local public research system forces farmers to seek solutions from international research establishments. More often, research priorities in public institutions are set by the scientific community with little attempt to involve the beneficiaries in priority setting. This tendency has led to research institutions being isolated from the immediate needs of society. This approach is often motivated by the assumption that the scientists and researchers know what the farmers want. As such, research often ignores farmers’ perceptions hence the outcome often does not satisfy farmers’ needs. The paper concludes by highlighting the need for more focused research and direct dissemination of findings to farmers, more so those in the SME sector who are often disadvantaged when it comes to adoption of new ideas.