Private Capacity and Public Failure: Contours of Livestock Innovation Response Capacity in Kenya

Ekin Keskin, Mirjam Steglich, Jeroen Dijkman & Andy Hall


Globalization, urbanization and new market demands — together with ever-increasing quality and safety requirements — are putting significantly greater pressures on agrifood stakeholders in the world. The ability to respond to new challenges and opportunities is important not just for producers but also for industries in developing countries. This paper aims to present what “innovation response capacity” entails, especially for natural resourcebased industries in a developing country context. It will also provide an analytical framework that draws elements from agricultural innovation capacity and the innovation systems framework. This is provided through case study research conducted in Kenya by exploring two livestock product companies: Farmer’s Choice and Kenchic. The cases show how companies had worked around the problem of weak interaction with the various livestockrelated agencies of the public sector by developing links with international sources of knowledge and technology. This allowed the sector to respond rapidly to different challenges. While the country’s historical development explains this pattern of innovation response capacity, public policy appears to be failing in its role of nurturing and contributing to the capacities needed for development in emerging economies, such as that of Kenya.

Key words: Livestock; agriculture; innovation; innovation response capacity; Kenya

JEL codes: O31, N57, Q16

UNU-MERIT Working Papers ISSN 1871-9872