Understanding barriers and opportunities in agricultural information management in post-Soviet states: a case study of Kazakhstan.
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After the break-up of the former Soviet Union in 1991, several states declared independence, including the Republic of Kazakhstan. Under the centralised soviet system Kazakhstan provided mainly raw materials to the USSR, and agriculture operated under a Moscow-based command and control model. Kazakhstan possesses vast wealth of mineral and energy resources and its agricultural land is well able to ensure national food security. However, after independence the rapid and frequently unplanned state actions such as land reform, taken to move from socialism to a market economy, were not always successful and the state of agriculture was initially one of chaos. A major exodus from the land to the cities ensued. Gradually Kazakhstani agriculture recovered some of its productivity but still lags well behind developed nations in the use of ICT supported agricultural information management (AIM). This research contributes to new knowledge in the area of ICT-based AIM by supplementing the limited statistical and scientific analyses of Kazakh agriculture by seeking to discover, through semi-structured interviews, the views and perceptions of agrarians who are both the customers and end users of ICT-based AIM in a post-soviet state. The researcher established that agrarian stakeholders were aware of the need for a centralised AIM system, but felt that to implement it, more assistance was required from the state. Kazakhstan can learn from the experiences of both developed and developing countries in furthering ICT-based AIM, and although its situation is unique, understanding of the perceptions of end users, who have had to make a series of flawed initiatives work, will arguably be relevant to policy makers in other post-soviet states.