ACCESS AND USE OF INFORMATION COMMUNICATION TECHNOLOGIES AMONG RURAL FARMERS IN ENUGU STATE, NIGERIA
This work examines the access and use of information communication technologies (ICT) among rural farmers in Enugu State. It is the contention of this study that there is a lacuna between access and usage of ICT among the rural farmers in Enugu state and generally in Nigeria. This study applauds the impact of ICT in enhancing the agricultural productivity in Nigeria especially as it concerns the rural communities. However, this work is designed to ascertain types of ICTs available to the farmers in rural area of Enugu state, determine the farmers’ level of access to ICTs, determine the level of usage of ICTs by farmers, determine the extent to which these ICTs have been perceived to be effective in information dissemination to rural farmers; and identify the persuaded challenges to effective use of ICTs among the rural farmers. In the methodology, data were collected mainly from secondary and primary sources and the work was designed to cover the three agricultural zones in Enugu state namely; Enugu-North, Enugu-East, and Enugu-West zones. In each of these agricultural zones, one local government was sampled out. In Enugu-North zone we sampled out Nsukka, Enugu-West zone we sampled Awgu, while in Enugu-East zone we sample out Isi-Uzo. Forty farmers were selected from each of the above named local governments making a total of 120 farmers. In the measurement of variables focus was drawn on the respondents’ sex, age, marital status, educational qualification, years spent to acquire formal education, years of farming experiences, primary occupation. The use of Pearson correlation coefficient at 0.05 level was adopted to analyze the data. Results of the study showed that a high proportion (38%) of the respondents were within the age bracket of 40-49 years and their mean age was 46 years. Majority (67%) of the respondents were males. Most of the rural farmers (97.3%) were married. A good proportion (23.3%) of the farmers had WAEC as their highest educational qualification. The average year of working experience was 21 years. Also, majority (56.3%) of the respondents had farming as their primary occupation. The findings also revealed that most of the farmers were aware of radio, television, mobile phone and video CD players, while few others were aware of the other ICT tools. Most of these ICT tools were not available to farmers however many of them had radio, mobile phone, television and video CD player. It was evident from the study that many of the farmers had access to radio, television and mobile phone but most of the other modern ICTs were not accessible to them. It was also found that these ICT tools that were accessible were often being used by farmers and were perceived to be very effective in obtaining information, and communicating effectively among the farmers. The major constraints that hindered the use of ICT by farmers were epileptic power supply (M=2.73), poor finance (M=2.54), High cost of ICT infrastructure (M=2.30), Lack of connectivity to access (M=2.23), Lack of adequate awareness (M=2.22), and Government policies (M=2.18), etc.