Accessibility and use of agricultural information among small scale maize growers in Tanzania: a case study of Mbeya rural district

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University of Dar es Salaam
The agricultural sector is the backbone of the Tanzanian economy. An improved information and knowledge flow to-, from- and within the agricultural sector are key components in improving small scale agricultural production and the whole national economy. However, the government of Tanzania has not devoted its effort to the dissemination of agricultural information, especially in rural areas, where most of people live. As such, this study set out to find out the Accessibility and Use of Agricultural Information among Small Scale Maize Growers in Tanzania, A Case Study of Mbeya Rural District. The study employed mixed-methods research, in which quantitative and qualitative approaches were carried out simultaneously. The quantitative approach assumed a dominant status. Non Probability sampling was used to draw a sample of 60 small scale farmers and 2 Agricultural Extension Officers. Data were collected through questionnaires, focus group discussions and key informant interviews. Data were analyzed by using SPSS, MS Word 2007 and MS Excel 2007. The study was guided by the Wilson’s Model (1981) of Information Seeking Behaviour but was slightly modified by the researcher to make it suitable for the purpose of the study. The findings of the study indicated that most of small scale maize growers access agricultural information through their relatives, friends, neighbours, fellow farmers and Agricultural Extension Officers. The most needed agricultural information among small scale maize growers was information about the application of pesticides, the application of various types of fertilizer, information on where to purchase fertilizers, seeds, pesticides and herbicides, new farming practices, weather forecasting, and information on how and where to rent land. The study findings also revealed barriers to accessing agricultural information in the study area such as lack of Agricultural Extension Officers, poverty, illiteracy, poor roads and poor electricity infrastructure, being busy with other activities, poor network connection, absence of library and information centres, lack of seminars, training programmes and workshops and lack of printed sources of information. The study concludes that in order to facilitate the accessibility and use of agricultural information among small scale maize growers in rural areas, the government should devote its efforts in the dissemination of agricultural information and management that grow from a clear understanding of what small scale farmers information needs are. The study recommends that the government should ensure that each village has its agricultural extension officers, the improvement of infrastructure in rural areas such as roads and electricity supply, provision of an agricultural information centre or library at each village, that the small scale farmers in rural areas should be encouraged to form groups within the village, information sources should be written in the Kiswahili language, short training programmes, seminars and workshops, and there should be class field (shamba darasa) in each village.
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Agriculture, Information services, Small scale farmers, Mbeya rural district, Tanzania
Laurent, V (2012) Accessibility and use of agricultural information among small scale maize growers in Tanzania: a case Study of Mbeya rural district, Master dissertation, University of Dar es Salaam. (Available at