oa South African Journal of Information Management - Factors influencing access to agricultural knowledge : the case of smallholder rice farmers in the Kilombero district of Tanzania : original research
Background: Access to agricultural knowledge is important in transforming livelihoods of those relying on agriculture for a living and in enhancing food security. This access to agricultural knowledge is influenced by infrastructure needed for information dissemination. However, information infrastructure is not uniformly distributed within and between countries. It is because of this that some of the farming communities are information rich while others are information poor. In Tanzania, the agricultural sector is characterised by poor research-extension-farmers linkage and inaccessibility of agricultural knowledge at farm level.
Objective: The study investigated the factors influencing access to agricultural knowledge among smallholder rice farmers in the Kilombero district of Tanzania. Specifically, the study identified categories of agricultural knowledge needed by farmers, determined how farmers access agricultural knowledge, and assessed the factors limiting the accessibility of agricultural knowledge among rice farmers in the Kilombero district.
Method: Quantitative data were collected via semi-structured questionnaires administered face-to-face with rice farmers, community leaders, and agricultural agents in four villages at the Kilombero district of the Morogoro region in Tanzania.
Results: The key finding indicates that farmers accessed and used agricultural knowledge in undertaking agricultural activities. It was further revealed that the level of acquisition of agricultural knowledge increased with an increase in age. Farmers needed agricultural knowledge on land preparation, seed selection, and rice planting, while few acquired knowledge on agricultural markets. Among the agricultural knowledge sources used,demonstration plots and agricultural extension agents were found to be used by the majority of the farmers. It was also found that a limited number of demonstration plots, late delivery of information services, a limited number of agricultural extension agents, and poor information and communication technologies infrastructure hindered access to agricultural knowledge among rice farmers in the district.
Conclusion: A strong public-private partnership is needed to enhance access to agricultural knowledge in rural areas. In this regard, the government should set up policies and strategies that motivate private sector investment and involvement in provision of agricultural knowledge in rural areas. The private sector should extend their agricultural-related activities to most rural areas so that more people can have access to agricultural knowledge.
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