The Effect of Information Communication Technology on Environmental Management and Resource Use Among Crop Farmers in Kogi State, Nigeria
The use of Information Communication Technology (ICT) in agriculture is vital for preventing stagnation in the dissemination, utilization and application of scientific, agricultural, resource and environmental information for purposeful development. For farmers to reap the benefits of ICT, they must not only have access, but they must also have the capacity to use devices effectively and in productive ways. In spite of the potential benefits of ICT in accessing resources, market and environmental information, very little is known about the factors that affect access and use of ICTs as well as the effect on environmental management and resourceuse among crop farmers.The study was carried out to assess the effect of access to and use of Information Communication Technology (ICT) on environmental management and resource use among crop farmers in Kogi State, Nigeria. A multistage and stratified sampling technique was used to select a total of 504 respondents for the study. Descriptive and inductive statistics were used for data analysis. The study showed that 53.0% of the farmers lived in areas covered by telephony signal. All the farmers in the area covered by telephony signal had access and also used ICTs for one purpose or the other. Most of these farmers (91.4%) used mobile phones.While 38.5% of farmers were aware of platforms or applications (Apps) for accessing agricultural and environmentalinformation, only 23.7% of the farmers used such platforms or applications. Result of logit analysis showed that the determinants of farmers’ access to ICTs were electricity, agricultural produce market and education. All these variables were positively significant at 1%. Also, when determinants of farmers’ use of ICTs were analyzed using regression model, possession of phone (<0.05), quality of service (p<0.01), use of ICTs for agriculture (p<0.01) and income (p<0.01) were found to be positively significant to use of ICTs, while household size was negatively significant (p<0.01). About half (46.7%) of farmers complained of drought, 21.5% flooding and 8.3% loss of arable land due to erosion and other factors. Consequently, most of the farmers (63.6%) complained of low yield due to factors related to the environment. The most popular conservation practices among the famers are Crop Rotations (99.02%), Mulching (99.02%) and Fire Tracing (98.04%). The study also revealed that farmers also adopted Life Mulches (50.49%), Agroforestry (65.20%), Contour Planting (65.20%) and Cover Crops (56.86%) on their farms as conservation and preservation techniques. The result from Likert analysis showedthat farmers strongly agreed that mobile phones assisted in getting conservation advisory services from Extension Agents (3.44), sourcing for labour needed for conservation activities (3.91), getting conservation information (3.60), sourcing for seedlings required for conservation (3.60) and sourcing materials used in conservation (3.48), sourcing for fund and credit to facilitate conservation activities (3.47), sharing conservation related information with other farmers (4.12) sourcing the right type of fertilizers needed on the farm (3.94). Similarly, the study showed that use of ICTs was highly beneficial in terms of communications amongst others, but when actual impact on resource use was measured using nearest neigbour Propensity Score Matching (PSM), the relationships were insignificant. These minimal impact was attributed to constraints amongst which include; absence of agricultural information management system in the country, lack of support on how to use ICTs for agricultural production, lack of good telephony signal and lack of supporting infrastructure. The study recommended that government should promote the establishment of a National Agricultural Information System accessible to enable farmer’s access timely information, as well as increasing awareness and also facilitate deployment of low cost telecommunication facilities in areas not covered by network signals.
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