Awareness And Use Of New Information And Communication Technologies In Dairy Goat Marketing: The Case Of Meru South Sub-county, Tharaka Nithi County, Kenya.
Marketing of agricultural produce by the smallholder farmers has been evolving over time. In the past, smallholder farmers mostly relied on physical contacts to connect with potential buyers of their produce. This approach confines them mostly to customers who are within easy physical reach, probably hindering them from connecting to more competitive markets. The old Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) have also been used but not with better success than the physical movement. They have often been faulted for not allowing much interaction between and among the users. This has therefore caused a shift in attention to the use of the new ICTs which seem to do better in linking smallholder farmers to better performing markets by enhancing access to relevant and timely market information. However, despite the undisputed contribution of the new ICTs in agricultural marketing, little information exists on the extent to which the smallholder farmers are aware of the use of these new ICTs in marketing among the smallholder farmers, more so the dairy goat farmers. This study was therefore designed to establish the awareness and use of the new ICTs in dairy goat marketing among the smallholder farmers. The study was carried out in Meru South sub-county. Chuka and Magumoni divisions were purposely selected. A sample of 97 dairy goat farmers obtained through a systematic random sampling from a population of 2800 smallholder farmers from two divisions. The study was cross-sectional in design and used a previously pre-tested questionnaire to collect the data. Three focus group discussions (FGDs) were also carried out with the officials of selected dairy goat keeping groups and officials of MGBA officials from the two divisions constituting the members of the FGDs. The study employed both descriptive and inferential statistics to analyze the data using the Statistical Package for Social Scientists (SPSS) software version 17. More so, chi-square test was carried out to test the three hypotheses of the study. xiii The findings revealed that firstly, the socio-demographics characteristics of the respondents have influence on the use of the new ICTs. Secondly, with regard to awareness levels of the new ICTs used in marketing of the dairy goats, mobile phones were the most popularly known types of new ICTs in marketing of the dairy goats. Thirdly, mobile phones were the most commonly owned and easily affordable new ICTs among the dairy goat farmers. And lastly, mobile phones were the most frequently used new ICTs in marketing of the dairy goats among the dairy goat farmers. The study concludes that generally, the awareness and use of the new ICTs in the marketing of the dairy goats was high, and that the mobile phone was the most commonly known and widely used ICT.