Awareness and the Use of Mobile Phones for Market Linkage by Smallholder Farmers in Kenya
Okello, Julius Juma
Okello, Ruth, M.
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In many developing countries smallholder farmer participation in agricultural input and output markets continues to be constrained by lack of market information. Actors in most developing country markets operate under conditions of information asymmetry which increases the costs of doing business and locks out smallholder farmers. Attempts to address this problem are currently focusing on the use of ICT technologies to provide market information and link farmers to markets. This study examines the awareness and use of one such technology – mobile phones. It finds for male and female smallholder farmers in Kenya a high level of awareness and widespread use of mobile phones, mainly for social purposes. This study further finds that a low level of education, the cost of mobile phone airtime recharge vouchers and the lack of electricity for recharging phone batteries are the major impediments to the ownership and use of mobile phones, with female farmers more constrained than males. A high awareness of mobile phones among mallholder farmers presents an opportunity to strengthen smallholder farmers’ market linkage. However constraints to the usage of mobile phones will need to be addressed. The study findings indicate priorities for policymakers dealing with the specifics of ICT adoption as a tool to promote rural viability via rationalization of Kenyan agricultural markets.