Bridging the Information Gap for Increased Livestock Productivity: Evidence from Use of SMS Messaging among Smallholder Farmers in Babati District, Tanzania
Ben Lukuyu1, Kevin Maina2, Leonard Marwa3, Alphonce Haule4, Julius Githinji2, Fred Kizito5
1International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), Feeds and Forages Program, Uganda
Most farming systems in East Africa are mixed with poultry, cattle and small ruminants forming the major livestock component. Population growth has resulted in expansion of cropped areas consequently, resulting in decline of regeneration of soil fertility, crop productivity and feed resources. Inability to feed animals adequately throughout the year becomes the most widespread technical constraint for livestock production. Therefore, there is a need for innovative strategies to alleviate the situation. However, knowledge gaps are still a hindrance to the uptake of livestock technologies. The objective of this article is to assess the effect of ICT based extension services on knowledge, attitudes and practices among smallholder farmers in Tanzania. It focuses on MWANGA platform; a toll short message service (SMS) that connects farmers to vital information on livestock production. Using a random sample of 100 dairy farmers, the study utilises qualitative and quantitative research methods. A baseline was conducted, then short and clear messages on dairy and poultry production were disseminated over a period of 14 weeks. This was followed by an end line survey and focus discussion in Babati District, Tanzania. Quantitative data was analysed using descriptive statistics, whereas qualitative data described the whys.
Keywords: Extension, forages, ICT, livestock productivity, technology adoption
Contact Address: Kevin Maina, International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), P. O. Box 30709-00100, Nairobi, Kenya, e-mail: mainakevin.kmgmail.com