1.1 Background of the study
The growth of any nation is impossible without the innovative and inventive exploitation of gathered information. Modern innovations and discoveries, represented in the growth of science and technology, economy, social and cultural development, are all functions of the logical application of recorded knowledge. According to Armstrong (2012), The rising value and usage of information as a commodity have given rise to the demand for the development of quicker and more efficient facilities for gathering, storing and disseminating it. While the achievement of these have further resulted to the proliferation of various types of information services, as well as information professionals using new technology, and the technology with the greatest impact on information are those that deal with information storage, processing and dissemination, which in this context fits what the term information and communication technology (ICT) imply.
In Nigeria there is a need for Information and communication technology (ICT) to be acknowledged as useful instrument in the agriculture sector. Jhunjhunwala, (2013) argued that at present, many smallholder farms have limited access to production inputs, notably automation; they thus attain low levels of productivity, and frequently contribute to the growth in negative environmental impacts on already diminishing natural resources. They also have less options to reach markets and take benefit of the myriad value-adding activities that more sophisticated food systems may give. At the same time, the rural population is predicted to shrink as individuals, especially the young and fit, relocate to urban areas in quest of a life defined by less drudgery than that afforded by agriculture. Agricultural mechanization can provide women in rural regions options adequately fitted to cultural, social and traditional labor norms, and to the general growth of local economies; nevertheless, these prospects re typically overlooked.
However, with the rapid development of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs), data and information can be effectively generated, stored, analyzed, disseminated and used to support farmers and farming communities to improve agricultural productivity and sustainability which most farmers do not have viable information about due to some likely challenges. Thus the necessity to equip people with technology such as mobile smarts becomes vital.
1.2 Statement of the problem
In industrialized nations, information and communication technologies (ICTs) such as mobile communication, Internet communication, television and radio, and so on are widely employed for agricultural information exchange. According to Hallam (2011), mobile communication has lately witnessed exponential expansion all over the world and offers as a cost-effective platform for communication, particularly in the agricultural sector, however farmers in emerging economies appear to be trailing behind. Many reasons have been made in support of using ICT to disseminate agricultural knowledge and then utilise it by farmers, particularly in Nigeria. With the introduction of the Global System for Mobile (GSM) communications, Nigerians now have access to phones (an significant ICT). Salau and Saingbe (2018) argue that now is the right moment for academics and extension workers to use ICT to more efficiently disseminate essential information to mechanized farmers. Nonetheless, access, connectivity, and content limits frequently accompany this ICT revolution, forcing development professionals to contend with the dual challenges of farmer literacy and the expensive prices of ICT resources, particularly in poor nations. Farmers’ understanding and use of these technologies, which are hampered by a lack of extension professionals for extended service delivery and their own self-efficacy (education), must be better understood in order to determine how the ICT revolution may effectively reach and serve them. Therefore, this study investigated the ICT awareness & utilization among mechanized farmers in Niger State: A perspective of GSM and the internet:
1.3 Objective of the study
The main objective of this study is to examine ICT awareness & utilization among mechanized farmers in Niger State: A perspective of GSM and the internet. Specifically, the study seeks to:
- Examine the level of farmers awareness of internet and GSM as a case studyas a source of disseminating information.
- Investigate the extent at which farmers utilized ICT tool in farming practices
- Assess the importance to technology-based farming practice among rural farmers.
- Determine the challenges that hinders mechanized farmers utilization of GSM and Internet.
1.4 Research Questions
- What is the level of farmers awareness of internet and GSM as a case study as a source of disseminating information?
- What is the extent at which farmers utilized ICT tool in farming practices?
- What are the benefit of adopting technology-based farming practice among rural farmers.
- What are the challenges that hinders mechanized farmers utilization of GSM and Internet.
1.5 Significance of the study
This study attempts to provide a diagnostics basis for solving problems associated with farmer level of utilization and of importance of Internet and GSM in mechanized agriculture. It might also help to change their attitude toward this ICT tools they have in possession. Also, enlightened the farmers on the essence of GSM as a faster means of disseminating information using various platform equipped on the GSM and not for making Voice call alone which is the primary purpose which an average farmer acquires a GSM, there is need for farmers to know that internet is also a vital medium of disseminating information about challenges encountered during mechanized farming and finding a lasting solution to it.Finally, the study would contribute empirically to the body of existing literature and it would serve as a reference source to students or other researchers who might want to carry out their research on the similar topic.
1.6 Scope of the study
The scope of this study borders on ICT awareness & utilization among mechanized farmers in Niger State: A perspective of GSM and the internet. The study will examine the level of farmers awareness of internet and GSM as a case study as a source of disseminating information. It will investigate the extent at which farmers utilized ICT tool in farming practices. It will assess the importance to technology-based farming practice among rural farmers. And determine the challenges that hinders mechanized farmers utilization of GSM and Internet. The study is limited to Suleja Local government in Niger State
1.7 Limitation of the study
Like in every human endeavour, the researchers encountered slight constraints while carrying out the study. The significant constraint was the scanty literature on the subject owing to the nature of the discourse thus the researcher incurred more financial expenses and much time was required in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature, or information and in the process of data collection, which is why the researcher resorted to a limited choice of sample size. Additionally, the researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. More so, the choice of the sample size was limited as few respondent were selected to answer the research instrument hence cannot be generalize to other corporate organizations. However, despite the constraint encountered during the research, all factors were downplayed in other to give the best and make the research successful.
1.8 Definition of terms
Mechanized-Agriculture: The process of introducing agricultural machinery to perform different operation performed on the farm instead of manual labour, greatly increasing farm worker productivity. In modern times, powered machinery has replaced many farm jobs formerly carried out by manual labour.
Internet: a worldwide computer network providing a variety of information and communication facilities, consisting of interconnected networks using standardized communication protocols.
GSM: (Global System for Mobile communications) is a standard developed by the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) to describe the protocols for second-generation digital cellular networks used by mobile devices such as tablets.
ICT: Information and communications technology (ICT) is an extensional term for information technology (IT) that stresses the role of unified communications and the integration of telecommunications (telephone lines and wireless signals) and computers, as well as necessary enterprise software, middleware, storage and audiovisual, that enable users to access, store, transmit, and manipulate information.
Armstrong, L. &. (2012). Factors influencing the use of information and communication technology (ICT) tools by the rural farmers in Ratnagiri District of Maharashtra, India.
Doerflinger, J. &. (2012). Sustainable ICT in agricultural value chains. IT Professional, 14(4), 48-55.
Hallam, D. (2011). International investment in developing country agriculture—issues and challenges. Food Security, 3(1), 91-98. Rome.
Izuchukwu, O. (2011). Analysis of the contribution of agricultural sector on the Nigerian economic development. World review of business research, 1(1), 191-200.
Jhunjhunwala, A. U. (2013). A new personalized agriculture advisory system. In Wireless Conference (EW), Proceedings of the 2013 19th European (pp. 1-6). VDE.
Salau and Saingbe (2018) Determinant causes influencing the use of information and communication technology (ICT) tools by the rural farmers in Rwanda