Use of social media as a source of agricultural information by small holder farmers; a case study of lower Kabete, Kiambu county
Farmers, agricultural programs, agricultural institutions and non governmental institutions are utilizing web 2.0 applications and platforms to disseminate agricultural information. The study’s main objective was to investigate the use of social media as a source of agricultural information with reference to farmers in Kiambu County. The specific objectives were to find out the information needs of farmers in Kiambu County; establish information seeking behavior of the farmers in Kiambu County; determine the accessibility and utilization of agricultural information from social media among farmers in Kiambu County; and examine the challenges experienced in accessing agricultural information from social media by farmers in Kiambu County. The research design used was descriptive survey so as to understand more about the phenomena. The qualitative methods that were used include interviews of key informants and a focus group of farmers who use these social media platforms. Purposive sampling was used to arrive at a sample of farmers in the study area. Both descriptive statistics and content analysis were employed in data analysis. Themes were developed as per the study objectives, and data from the various tools synthesized and triangulated. From the analysis, it can be deduced that agricultural information is highly required among a majority of farmers in the study area. The study further deduced that farmers in the study area source for agricultural information from a variety of sources, key among which include the internet, social media and extension services. From the study it can be inferred that a majority of farmers approach the use of social media in agricultural information seeking with a positive attitude, pointing to the assumption that social media is largely beneficial and convenient as a source of agricultural information. Among the most common challenges faced include poor network access, power outages, and costly charges when accessing the internet. This study recommends that centers can be established in Kiambu County whereby farmers can obtain agricultural information online and that social media should be fully utilized to provide; feedback, complement extension programs, access local and international markets and complement communication campaigns whose goal is to bring about agricultural development.