ACCESS AND USE OF INFORMATION COMMUNICATION TECHNOLOGIES AMONG RURAL FARMERS IN ENUGU STATE, NIGERIA

ABSTRACT
This work examines the access and use of information communication technologies (ICT) among rural farmers in Enugu State. It is the contention of this study that there is a lacuna between access and usage of ICT among the rural farmers in Enugu state and generally in Nigeria. This study applauds the impact of ICT in enhancing the agricultural productivity in Nigeria especially as it concerns the rural communities. However, this work is designed to ascertain types of ICTs available to the farmers in rural area of Enugu state, determine the farmers’ level of access to ICTs, determine the level of usage of ICTs by farmers, determine the extent to which these ICTs have been perceived to be effective in information dissemination to rural farmers; and identify the persuaded challenges to effective use of ICTs among the rural farmers. In the methodology, data were collected mainly from secondary and primary sources and the work was designed to cover the three agricultural zones in Enugu state namely; Enugu-North, Enugu-East, and Enugu-West zones. In each of these agricultural zones, one local government was sampled out. In Enugu-North zone we sampled out Nsukka, Enugu-West zone we sampled Awgu, while in Enugu-East zone we sample out Isi-Uzo. Forty farmers were selected from each of the above named local governments making a total of 120 farmers. In the measurement of variables focus was drawn on the respondents’ sex, age, marital status, educational qualification, years spent to acquire formal education, years of farming experiences, primary occupation. The use of Pearson correlation coefficient at 0.05 level was adopted to analyze the data. Results of the study showed that a high proportion (38%) of the respondents were within the age bracket of 40-49 years and their mean age was 46 years. Majority (67%) of the respondents were males. Most of the rural farmers (97.3%) were married. A good proportion (23.3%) of the farmers had WAEC as their highest educational qualification. The average year of working experience was 21 years. Also, majority (56.3%) of the respondents had farming as their primary occupation. The findings also revealed that most of the farmers were aware of radio, television, mobile phone and video CD players, while few others were aware of the other ICT tools. Most of these ICT tools were not available to farmers however many of them had radio, mobile phone, television and video CD player. It was evident from the study that many of the farmers had access to radio, television and mobile phone but most of the other modern ICTs were not accessible to them. It was also found that these ICT tools that were accessible were often being used by farmers and were perceived to be very effective in obtaining information, and communicating effectively among the farmers. The major constraints that hindered the use of ICT by farmers were epileptic power supply (M=2.73), poor finance (M=2.54), High cost of ICT infrastructure (M=2.30), Lack of connectivity to access (M=2.23), Lack of adequate awareness (M=2.22), and Government policies (M=2.18), etc.

CHAPTER ONE
INTRODUCTION
1.1 Background information
Growth in agricultural production in some developing countries has been slow despite the various stages of structural transformation by different countries in the world. Efforts are being made to overcome this situation by disseminating information about improved agricultural technologies directly to farm people. In this regard, Mohammed and Wanaso (1993) noted that knowledge and information are important factors for accelerating agricultural development by increasing agricultural production and improving marketing and distribution. Several studies have shown that a variety of information sources are needed for disseminating farm information and that there are variations in the extension sources (Omenesa 1992; Moemeka 1990).

According to the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA) (2003), information communication technology (ICT) refers to all information and communication systems and technologies that facilitate communication and the processing and transmission of information by electronic means. Heeks (1999) defines ICT as electronic device for capturing, processing, storing and communicating information. ICTs can enhance the integration and efficiency of agricultural system by opening new communication pathways and reducing transaction cost, given greater accessibility of information on price, transportation and production.


Technologies, including ICT are rapidly transforming the face of agriculture in industrialized countries. Most activities in the agricultural market place are now mediated by web linked data based specifying prices, qualities and quantities demanded (International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), 2004). ICTs have reduced the cost and increased the spread of communication. It is no longer something that appears only in organizations’ wish list, but a well structured one to be used as a backbone to enable organization to deliver services effectively and efficiently. ICT has witnessed an upsurge in recent years in almost all areas of rural life in several African countries despite the problem of accessibility, connectivity and literacy (CTA, 2003).

Agriculture, which depends largely on information exchange between researchers, extension workers and farmers, is an area which ICT is known to have significant impact. ICTs application can be used to transmit information directly to farmers and the farming communities, for example ICT can be applied to handle agricultural issues such as water utilization and management, pest control, harvest management etc. The emerging trend in information and communication technologies presents opportunities to improve rural farmers’ participation in farming. ICTs applications are also useful in facilitating development programmes in many countries. These technologies help in supporting economic and social development (Mansell and When, 1998).

Majority of rural farmers depend entirely on agriculture at various levels for livelihood. However, disease, pests, soil degradation and other factors such as lack of market for easily perishable crops have greatly affected the total national incomes and subsequently the standard of living of people in rural communities. Access to accurate and timely information by rural farmers can result in enhanced economic and social development. Access to information as prescribed in government strategies requires cheap and fast dissemination of information to farmers. However, in the rural areas, limited resources, including limited telecommunications and energy infrastructure, have contributed to slow implementation of such government initiatives.

All stakeholders of agricultural industry need information and knowledge to manage different phases of agriculture efficiently. These main areas of agriculture industry include crop cultivation, water management, fertilizer application, pest management, harvesting, post harvest handling, transporting of food products, packaging, food preservation and......

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Item Type: Postgraduate Material  |  Attribute: 60 pages  |  Chapters: 1-5
Format: MS Word  |  Price: N3,000  |  Delivery: Within 30Mins.
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