The role of ICT in facilitating farmers’ accessibility to extension services and marketing of agricultural produce: The case of Maize in Mbozi District, Tanzania

Francis Lwesya and Vicent Kibambila

Department of Business Administration, School of Business Studies and Economics, University of Dodoma, Tanzania.

Accepted 9 May, 2017.

Citation: Lwesya F, Kibambila V (2017). The role of ICT in facilitating farmers’ accessibility to extension services and marketing of agricultural produce: The case of Maize in Mbozi District, Tanzania. International Journal of Agricultural Marketing, 4(2): 142-151.

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Copyright: © 2017. Lwesya and Kibambila. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are cited.

Abstract

The rapid pace of ICT development and its consequent use across economic, social and political spectrums has raised concerns among policy makers and practitioners over its potential to spur productivity in the agriculture sector as well. This paper examines the role that ICT can play in facilitating smallholder farmers’ accessibility to extension services and marketing of agricultural produce in Mbozi District. The study used structured questionnaires to collect information. A sample of 250 farmers was selected randomly and interviewed.The findings reveal that farmers are using ICT facilities to get access to extension services and in marketing maize in Mbozi District. The most preferred and major ICT tools used to inquire and receive extension services and market information are the mobile phones (53.88%), radio (23.67%), television (14.69%) and the internet (7.75%). However, effective use of ICT in the study area is constrained by poor infrastructure in rural areas, and lack of technical know-how exhibited in the lack of basic ICT skills. Other constraints are the erratic power supply, poor signals, lack of network, and lack of internet connectivity and a high cost of some ICT tools. This suggests that if requisite ICT infrastructures are put in place in Mbozi District, ICT can bring about significant benefits to smallholder farmers leading to increased agricultural productivity and hence poverty reduction.  Thus, the study recommends promoting investment in renewable energy sources in order to address the problem of power in rural areas. Creating an enabling environment for ICT services accessibility, including the construction of transport and communication network infrastructures. The establishment of market information centers and telecenters in Mbozi District particularly in rural areas and advocating for the use of collective marketing through strengthened farmers groups to ease their access to ICT facilities.

JEL Classification Codes: o32, o33

Keywords: ICT, agricultural produce, maize, extension services, farmers, market Information