ICT-enabled agricultural extension in Senegal: A case study of ICT4D effectiveness and equity

Authors: Rachel Voss*, University of California - Santa Cruz
Topics: Development, Agricultural Geography, Africa
Keywords: Africa, development geography, agriculture, ICTs, ICT4D, extension, gender, technology adoption, information systems, seed systems
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/7/2019
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Stones Throw 1 - Granite, Marriott, Lobby Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

In recent years, the use of information and communication technologies for development (ICT4D) has generated substantial interest from aid donors and practitioners across development sectors. In the realm of agriculture, ICT-enabled extension services present a decentralized alternative to traditional agricultural extension, offering the tantalizing possibility of both cost savings and improved equity in information access. However, the realized potential and shortcomings of ICT-enabled extension remain poorly documented. This four-year study followed an ICT-enabled extension project in Senegal that used radio and IVR-based mobile phone services to promote certified seeds and organic and inorganic fertilizers to rural smallholders. Drawing primarily on findings from large-scale annual surveys, focus groups, and observational data, the study examines patterns in farmer engagement with ICT-enabled extension services. It also explores barriers to farmers’ use of ICT tools with specific attention to gender and resource access. Finally, the study follows uptake of promoted seeds and fertilizers over the course of the four-year project, uncovering challenges in using ICT-enabled extension to promote adoption of agricultural technologies in high-risk environments where seed systems remain under-developed. Ultimately, the findings underscore key differences between farmers’ access to and use of ICTs, draw into question assumptions of increased equity through ICT-enabled extension, and highlight institutional barriers to both engagement with ICT services and behavior change among farmers in Senegal.

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