BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Information has shown to be the most basic factor in all aspects of life, particularly in developmental processes. Against this backdrop, agriculture has proven to be an information-driven business that depends on an inexhaustible supply of contextualized knowledge and significant research resources. Many information and communication technologies (ICTs) have been invented, tested, and released all over the world, with varied degrees of success. Some of these technologies arose from the desire to assist farmers in improving their living through higher agricultural output and revenue, or by lowering the risk element inherent in crop and animal production. In the developing world, information and communication technologies have become the most popular means of transferring speech, data, and services. They give the most cost-effective means for millions of individuals to have access to information, markets, finance, and governance systems that were previously unavailable to them. New Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) have revolutionized the lives of individuals, companies, and even entire nations all over the world. In essence, the importance of ICTs in poverty alleviation cannot be overlooked any more. In Nigeria, for example, the relevance of ICTs is acknowledged in Millennium Development Goal Number 8 (MDG8), which emphasizes the benefits of new technologies, particularly Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs), in combating poverty.
ICTs have contributed significantly to growth and socioeconomic development in business sectors, countries, and areas where they have been widely embraced and integrated. Nearly 40% of the world population has Internet connectivity, and 7 out of 10 homes in the poorest fifth of the poor have a cell phone. 1 The widespread use and integration of ICTs has resulted in lower information and transaction costs, enhanced service delivery, the creation of new employment, the generation of new income streams, and the conservation of resources.
Nnadi (2012) described agricultural information as a compilation of knowledge about agriculture in general, which includes concepts, inventions, and technology of agricultural policy in all domains. It is crucial to highlight that letting them obtain access to knowledge raises their level of living. This is due to the fact that their talents are limited by the amount of information available to them, and they will always be disadvantaged in the absence of knowledge (Muhammad, 2007).
ICT firms, multinational farm input businesses, big machinery manufacturers, as well as small and medium farm input providers, provide a variety of services to farmers using ICTs in agricultural and food sectors across the world, including extension guidance. Supermarkets and agricultural product purchasers participate in the food value chain via ICTs, as do farmers’ cooperatives, international organizations, civil society, and governments, who utilize the technology to successfully give information on many areas of farming, including regulation. A rising body of data reveals that in many situations, ICTs, notably mobile phones, are considered to boost access to both information and capacity-building possibilities for developing-country rural people. This has a measurable impact. Farmers may increase crop yields by using ICTs to have access to more timely and high-quality information on goods and inputs, as well as environmental and market circumstances.
STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
Though the use of ICTs has led to development in metropolitan regions, rural people are ignored and have limited access to ICTs.
Farmers are deprived of knowledge that might aid in productivity and market research for their harvests and goods. Farmers have several problems in terms of information transmission and access to ICTs in order to improve their agricultural information and knowledge. The most significant issue in employing ICTs to tackle agricultural information distribution concerns in Nigeria has been identified as a lack of infrastructure. There is no firm that can succeed nowadays in the world without such resources as ICTs. The use of ICTs in agriculture, particularly to Nigerian rural farmers, is severely constrained due to the government’s lack of interest on the one hand, and the enormous cash necessary to set it up on the other. For these reasons, it has hampered the free flow of information about yam farmers’ production capacity in terms of land cultivation, pest and disease management, farm produce marketing, and farm operations in developing nations such as Nigeria.
OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The primary aim of this study is to evaluate information communication technology (ICT) and its usage in agricultural information dissemination among farmers. Other objectives of this study are:
i. To determine farmers awareness level of Information and Communication Technology.
ii. To determine the different ICT tools used by farmers
iii. To examine the impact of ICT on agricultural information dissemination among farmers
iv. To examine how accessible these tools are for the rural farmers.
v. To find out the challenges faced by farmers in using these ICT tools
This study will answer the following research questions.
i. What is the awareness level of farmers about Information and Communication Technology?
ii. What are the different ICT tools used by farmers?
iii. How impactful is ICT on agricultural information dissemination among farmers?
iv. How accessible are these tools for rural farmers?
v. What are the challenges faced by farmers in using these ICT tools?
SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
This study will be beneficial to farmers as the results of this study will show farmers the different ICT tools to use and also show the level of accessibility for an improved agricultural yield. It will also be beneficial to the field of agriculture and agricultural extension as it will also show the different ways to disseminate information to farmers.
Finally, this study will be beneficial to scholars as it will serve as an existing material for future reference and further studies.
SCOPE OF THE STUDY
This study will focus on the evaluation of information communication technology (ICT) and its usage in agricultural information dissemination among farmers. It will also focus on awareness level of Information and Communication Technology, examine the impact of ICT on agricultural information dissemination among farmers, examine how accessible these tools are for the rural farmers and find out the challenges faced by farmers in using these ICT tools.
This study will use farmers of Jos North Local Government Area, Plateau State as enrolled participants for the study.
LIMITATIONS OF THE STUDY
This study will be limited to the evaluation of information communication technology (ICT) and its usage in agricultural information dissemination among farmers. It will also be limited to awareness level of Information and Communication Technology, examine the impact of ICT on agricultural information dissemination among farmers, examine how accessible these tools are for the rural farmers and find out the challenges faced by farmers in using these ICT tools.
This study will be limited to farmers of Jos North Local Government, Plateau State and thus this result cannot be used any where else until further studies is carried out.
DEFINITION OF TERMS
Evaluation: the making of a judgement about the amount, number, or value of something; assessment.
Information and communication Technology: is the infrastructure and components that enable modern computing.
Usage: the action of using something or the fact of being used.
Information: facts provided or learned about something or someone
Dissemination: the action or fact of spreading something, especially information, widely.
Farmer: a person who owns or manages a farm