Biotechnology innovation in Kenya: where are the smallholder farmers?
This study sets out to investigate the role of small holder farmers amidst the intervention of other actors in biotechnology innovation in the maize sub-sector, in Kenya. This exploratory research is a result of the challenges in understanding participation and the concept of public-private partnership in biotechnology innovation and its social construction. These challenges emerge as a result of a myriad of actors involved in biotechnology innovation. The study goes a step further to investigate the role of both human (social) and non-human (material) actors in the construction of biotechnology innovation in the maize sub-sector in Kenya. Here, focus is on the manoeuvres- negotiations and distantiations as played out by various actors in the creation of partnerships and the shaping of social interaction and participation for the Gene Revolution in Kenya. This way the study dissects the understanding that biotechnology innovation is about more than just development and use of agricultural technology. The study will focus on two different programmes in Kenya. Not for comparison purposes but is intended to use biotechnology innovation combined with applying notions of actor participation on publicprivate partnership infrastructure to address the food needs of Kenyans. These programmes are; the Special Biotechnology Programme (1993) and the Insect Resistant Maize for Africa Project (1999). In view of this, the main objective is to contribute to understanding how actors conceptualize and actualize their roles, those of others, and the partnerships and interactions in biotechnology innovation programmes in Kenya that focus on small holder farmers. In so doing, the question of how socio-technical interactions between small holder farmers and other actors are constructed in biotechnology innovation process in Kenya would have been addressed. take place, focus is on actor-oriented approach which will expand on contemporary social science debate which intends to rescue actors, heterogeneity, and social change (dynamics from a simplified structuralist analysis). Actor-network theory, issues of power and control, aims (public relations (PR), profits, or public interest), and the debate on participation shall be used. This study will be to a large extent an exploratory study. Fieldwork will proceed by utilizing qualitative research methods of data collection for over a period of 21 months. The methods will generate data that clearly position small holder farmers in their rightful place in biotechnology innovation in Kenya amidst other actors involved in the construction of biotechnology.