FACT SHEET Project: On the role of mobile phones towards improving coverage of agricultural extension: Maize value chain in Kilosa District-Status of ICT and utilization in agriculture. Team members Prof. M.R.S. Mlozi, Project leader, Sokoine University of Agriculture, Tanzania Dr. C. Sanga, Assistant Project leader, Sokoine University of Agriculture, Tanzania Prof. S. Tumbo, Sokoine University of Agriculture, Tanzania Prof. R. Haug, Norwegian University of Life Sciences (UMB) Project description Lack of timely information is one of the constraints on small-scale agricultural production and natural resource exploitation - a sector that provides livelihood for 70–80 percent of Africa’s population (Jensen, 2003). In Tanzania, agricultural information is mainly disseminated through agricultural extension officers and farmer-to-farmer extension. However, the growth of extension staff in most areas has not matched the number of farmers that need the service. The country has only 3,833 extension staff while the demand stands at 12,000 (Ministerial Budget Speech, 2007). Modern Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) such as computers, the Internet, mobile phones and personal digital assistants (PDAs) can help to fast track improvement of extension service delivery together with conventional ICTs such as radio and television. According to Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA) (2011) there were a total of 25.7 million mobile phone subscribers by June 2011. The rise in use of these ICTs, in particular mobile phones by Tanzanian farmers needs to be researched and how the coverage of agricultural extension service delivery can be improved. This study, seeks to fill the gap that exists in this area. Project objectives The main objective of the project is to improve the innovative communication and knowledge dissemination to actors in the maize value chains through the us e of mobile phones. Specifically this project will: • Identify socio-economic factors in the maize value chain influencing the use of mobile phones for accessing agricultural extension services; • Assess institutional factors influencing actors in the maize value chain on the use of mobile phones for accessing agricultural extension services; • Examine the effectiveness of the mobile phones supported information system in helping actors in the maize value chain to access agricultural extension services.
Study methodology The research methodology is based on participatory action research (PAR) [McTaggart 1989] compounded with mixed research methods (i.e. triangulation approach) and software engineering methods. A participatory approach was chosen in order to have sustainable intervention. Also, the intention of using the PAR approach was to contribute to a practical difference/outcome for the end users (Figure 1). Moreover, the use of triangulation methodology helped the researchers to have a deeper understanding of the phenomena under investigation.
Figure 1: PAR (Adapted from McTaggart, 1989)
The baseline study employed a quantitative research approach using a questionnaire. The study was conducted in Kilosa District in the Morogoro region involving 40 randomly selected respondents. Kilosa District is one of the six districts of Morogoro region, Tanzania. It is worth noting that deliverables from other activities will be reported in future publications. Expected outputs • Output 1: Information, knowledge and experience on the use of ICT in dissemination of agricultural information in selected district in Tanzania identified. • Output 2: Information and knowledge needs and capacities of participants/stakeholders in the agricultural extension services related to the maize value chain identified. • Output 3: Capacity of information generation, packaging and dissemination enhanced. • Output 4: Web- and mobile-based system for agricultural information and knowledge system for information and knowledge transaction developed and tested. • Output 5: Up-take, promotion and scaling-up of the system and network for extension service delivery undertaken. Preliminary results from baseline study In total, 40 respondents were interviewed. Of these, 31 were male while nine female. Thirty reported that their main occupation was crop farming, while three indicated keeping livestock. Of all the respondents, 88% indicated that they were involved in agricultural activities. Figure 1 shows that less than half of the respondents reported growing maize, while 17 mentioned growing paddy rice. Of the 40 respondents, 16 and 11 indicated that they possessed mobile phones and television sets, respectively.
Beans Sesame Sunflower Maize Paddy rice 0
Number of respondents
Figure 2: Respondents and crops they grow
Of the 40 respondents, 28 are not using their mobile phones to access the Internet, implying that most of the phones either had no features for accessing the Internet or a lack of knowledge of the owner (see Figure 3).
Figure 3: ICT ownership
Source of agricultural information Further, 18 of the respondents agreed that they used the habitual calendars as a source of information about agriculture at the start of the crop growing season. Only ten of the respondents reported that they received information about agriculture from the agriculture extension agents at the start of the growing season. Similarly, 14 and 12 of the respondents agreed that they received meteorological information from radio and TV respectively at the start of the growing season. Of the respondents, 15 and 14 agreed that they got information about crop markets and prices from the middlemen and fellow farmers, respectively, while 11 said that they got it from the business people. TV and the radio were each mentioned as sources of information about the crop markets and prices. The implications of this study are that few respondents use the Tanzania Meteorological Agency (TMA) data via radio or TV as a source of information at the start of the agricultural season.
Figure 4: Source of information on markets and prices
60% reported that their main sources of information for improving agricultural knowledge were agricultural extension agents; 25% used experienced fellow farmers as a source and 15% used TV/radio. Limitations to using ICTs in agriculture Illiteracy among farmers, ignorance about ICTs, poverty and poor ICT infrastructure were found to be factors limiting the effective use ICTs in agriculture. The study results show lower mobile phones ownership (40%) in Kilosa District compared to Kilolo District (80%) (Nyamba and Mlozi, 2010), which could partly be attributed to respondents’ socio-economic status. Also, of the 40 percent of the respondents owning mobile phones, 70 percent indicated their mobile phones had no features to access Internet, a limiting aspect in terms of communicating agricultural information. The implications of these findings are that about 40% of the people in the study areas could use mobile phones and 60% have access to TV, radio or computer.. This shows the need for developing an information system which can integrate different ICT tools for improving the dissemination and communication of agricultural information and knowledge. Preliminary results • Stakeholder analysis done and a report produced. • Baseline done and a report produced. • Prototype of web-based farmers’ advisory information system (W-FAIS) developed (Figure 5).
Figure 5: W-FAIS
• Prototype of mobile-based farmers’ advisory information system developed. • Online discussion forum initiated " [email protected]
" • Facebook page developed at https://www.facebook.com/ict4agriculturalextensionservice • Six students with partial support completed their Special Research Project and six reports written. • Policy brief written and submitted to EPINAV. • Online project story by communication champion produced at URL:http://cdkn.org/resource/mobile-phones-and-agricultural-extension-services-intanzania/ and http://www.umb.no/noragric/article/epinav-project-activities • Journal papers published and book chapter written and published.
a. On search for strategies to increase the coverage of agricultural extension service: Web-based Farmers’ Advisory Information System (paper published in International Journal of Computing and ICT Research - IJCIR), URL: http://www.ijcir.org/volume7-number1/article5.pdf b. In book: Technology Development and Platform Enhancements for Successful Global E-Government Design, Chapter 15: System Design and ICT adoption in Agricultural Extension Services Delivery in Tanzania, Publisher: IGI-Global USA. URL:http://www.igi-global.com/book/technology-development-platformenhancements-successful/78940 • Maize subject content prepared and uploaded to W-FAIS (Figure 5). • Collaboration established with Kilosa District Council (KDC), KIRSEC and Mzumbe University Recommendations In order to develop and customize the use of ICTs by agricultural extension services in Kilosa District so that smallholder agriculture can contribute to the country’s development, the following recommendations are proposed: 1. The Kilosa District Council (KDC) should educate smallholder farmers on the use of ICTs to communicate agricultural information for enhanced agricultural production; 2. KDC should mobilize NGOs, religious institutions and individuals to use the existing centres in the District and support regular consultations between farmers and experts for the acquisition and dissemination of market information and prices, as well as availability of inputs; 3. KDC in collaboration with financial institutions should establish E-banking and especially mobile banking in rural areas using M-PESA and TIGO-PESA. These help farmers make transactions using mobile phones; 4. KDC should invest in ICTs by entering into agreement with the four service providers in improving the appropriate ICT infrastructure such as wind and solar power generation in rural areas to make services available and affordable; 5. KDC should liaise with Sokoine University of Agriculture, research stations, service providers and develop local contents of main agricultural activities (e.g. maize and paddy rice) to be fed to tele-centres and later communicated to farmers in rural areas. For further information about this project please contact: Prof. M.R.S. Mlozi, Principal investigator Dept. of Agricultural Education and Extension Sokoine University of Agriculture, Address: P.O. Box 3000 Phone: +255 787022609 E-mail address: [email protected]