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Prativa Chhetri
Prativa Chhetri
Thank you Aldo for sharing the findings of your study. We have seen the growth of mobile phone usage in Asia Pacific but we have yet to tap into its potential as a tool to benefit farmers and rural households.
Upakar it would be better if you can more information about the photo completion on family farming like website, venue, date, etc.
6 years ago
In our country Nepal communication services and tools are used these days for the promotion of family farming. In Nepal one of the leading organisation is AgriyouthNepal, a group of energetic young students of agriculture aiming promotion of Nepalese agriculture by means of ICTs. Its role is appreciable. On the occasion of International Year of Family Farming as decided by UNO , AgriyouthNepal is also promoting family farming with photo competition in collaboration with many organisations in Nepal
6 years ago
Aldo Lim
Aldo Lim
Hi everyone!

I'm Aldo Lim from the College of Development Communication, University of the Philippines Los Baños. My collegue and research adviser, Cleofe Torres, invited me here to share my masters thesis on mobile phone appropriation among coffee farmers of Amadeo, Cavite, Philippines. I also presented this paper at the AMIC Conference last year (and hope to publish it as a journal article this year).

As you know, in the Philippines, agriculture is the largest and most critical sector. Moreover, the country is no stranger to ICT4D. Mobile phones have established a presence even in developing rural areas. They have been integrated in agricultural information delivery, especially in rice farming (as Ronan has shared in this discussion).

However, the benefits of I-C-Ts have yet to be fully realized when it comes to local coffee production, an agricultural sector that used to be globally recognized as an industry player. The lack of e-agriculture initiatives in coffee farming was seen as a ripe opportunity to generate empirical data on local mobile phone practices.

Inspired by FAO's "Revisiting the Black Box: Case Studies in Local Appropriation of ICTs," I set out to analyze how coffee farmers of Amadeo, Cavite -- the coffee capital of the Philippines -- have appropriated mobile phones. I used Wirth, von Pape, and Karnowski's Integrative Model of Mobile Phone Appropriation as my framework.

Coffee farmers of Amadeo, Cavite were mostly male, married, and in their mid-to-late adulthood. They have been farming since they were youngsters. Majority were small-scale farmers, who augmented their income from coffee by planting other crops and by engaging in other sources of livelihood.

Majority of the farmers owned one handset and one mobile number. Almost all of them were Smart and Globe (the top two telcos in the country) prepaid subscribers. Meanwhile, their handset of choice was Nokia, being the most popular brand in the locale. The handful of farmers who did not own a mobile phone accessed one through an immediate family member. All in all, these coffee farmers have been mobile phone users for an average of eight years.

Farmers used their phones occasionally, primarily for functional purposes. With a mobile phone, they could be easily reached, especially in times of emergency. Their handset also served as a medium with which they could contact their loved ones. Mobile communications allowed them to check up on one another during the day. As such, their handsets served as devices that extended husband-wife and parent-daughter/son relations outside the home.

Generally, farmers did not feel the need to use their phone to seek information on coffee farming. A number of them insisted that, more often than not, they would simply rely on their own tacit knowledge or personal technique whenever a farming-related concern arose. In the event that they did need information on coffee farming, they would use their phone to arrange a face-to-face meeting with their co-farmers. As such, their handset played a facilitative role in information seeking, but it was not a medium with which they directly sought information on coffee farming. Farmers used their phone the most during the selling phase, specifically to be apprised of current prices.

Meanwhile, farmers treated their phone as more of a necessity than a luxury. This related to the type of handsets farmers owned—majority were simple devices with basic functionalities. Farmers put forward that, at their old age, showing off their phone was no longer a concern of theirs. Another farmer commented that the showier younger generation was more inclined to display their phones in public.

In conversing with the married male coffee farmers, a handful of them volunteered that their mobile phone doubled as an object of suspicion. Owning two handsets or mobile numbers had the likelihood of being perceived by their wives as an indicator of extramarital affairs. This has led some male coffee farmers to be more conscious of their mobile phone activity.

Through Hierarchical Cluster Analysis, five usage patterns emerged. More than half of the farmers constituted the largest cluster, “sporadic, restricted users.” Their actual usage was infrequent, hence the label, “sporadic.” Though they deployed their mobile phones for practical purposes, they did not maximize all possible functional applications, hence the description, “restricted.”

In terms of restrictions to mobile phone use, eyesight was found to be a hindrance, especially among the older farmers. One study participant set her phone’s text size to “large.” Another one said that he had given up on using mobile phones because of his poor eyesight.

Overall, it may concluded that mobile phone appropriation among coffee farmers of Amadeo, Cavite was not hinged on farming practices. That is to say, the ways in which farmers used their mobile phones in everyday life were no different from how they used them in the context of coffee farming.

The western M-P-A Model was adaptable to the Philippine context, if the high internal consistency reliability of the instrument is any indicator. The study proposes to build up on Wirth et al.’s (2008) M-P-A Model by highlighting personal, professional, and ownership characteristics of mobile consumers.

The study’s findings showed that farmers used their phones for functional purposes but not as much for information seeking/sharing. As such, the exigency of developing an I-C-T-based information service for coffee farming is not evident at the moment. However, interviews with the study participants revealed that they did have unsatisfied information needs regarding coffee production, which still points to the potential of an ICT-based program.
6 years ago
Prativa Chhetri
Prativa Chhetri
Thank you Ronan for sharing more information about your study on the use of SMS in rural households and the important role it plays for family farming. It was also interesting to learn about the significant role the wife of the farmer plays in its use.
We look forward to sharing of such study, good practices and trends of communication tools that can aid family farmers in the region.
6 years ago
Ronan Zagado
Ronan Zagado
Use of SMS in family farming in the Philippines

Im Dr Ronan Zagado, a development communication specialist at PhilRice. I specialize in communication and new media application and research for agricultural development particularly in rice. My research interest is on the social and cultural aspect of communication. Currently, I am handling a research-cum-extension campaign that aims to catalyze inclusive growth in the rice-based farming communities using both behavioral and technological interventions.

I thank Dr Torres for introducing me to this forum, and for taking the initiative to share my work on the use of SMS in farming.

Drawing from the result of my study, allow me to share some more additional insights in relation to the topics of this forum:

SMS as an extension/communication tool

Among the new media, SMS has by far the highest penetration and use rate with more than one mobile phone per household in the rural Philippines. We have tested several new media modalities through the Open Academy for Philippine Agriculture (OPAPA) Program. But among others, the use of SMS appeared to be the most effective one.

What makes SMS effective? 1) It gives quick response - our data suggests farmer’s queries are answered within 5 minutes (Note: farmers/clients come form different parts of the country). 2) It is handy - farmers can use it anytime and anywhere (our analysis of the farmers’ everyday life suggests they use SMS 24/7 as either a separate or integrated activity (see page 144 of my thesis). The impact of SMS on farming was found to be significant in the production of timely, appropriate solutions to farm issues across the cropping season from land preparation to marketing. Study shows that economic benefits derived from SMS are as follows: savings from knowledge search & transaction cost, increase in input productivity due to the application of knowledge accessed via the Farmers’ Text Centre, and higher income due to accessibility to better markets.

In order to ensure the successful use of SMS in extension, we have to treat the technology as no separate but rather an integrated activity of the existing or on-going extension system in a particular farming community. Its success should be measured in terms of how is it intertwined into the extension’s communication ecology. This is based on the assumption that extension is no simply linear process of technology transfer, but a complex interrelationship of various communicative activities. Example, if radio is widely used in a farming as their main source of information. SMS can come not a replacement but a supplementation. Our experience in Pampanga articulates this successful integration of SMS in radio broadcasting. We came up with pluralistic modality combining SMS+Internet+Radio.

SMS as family farming tool

Another interesting result that I surfaced in my study is that texting has become integral in the routines of farmers’ everyday life as a new form of social action both at the household and community level. It has become an everyday practice in the farming community. The household relationship of farmers, their children, and spouse in relation to the use of SMS particularly has become instrumental to the accomplishment of farmers’ farm work.

At farmer’s household, the role of the juvenile has become a dominant function as it has been accorded authority in the production of everyday farming practices. Farmers’ wives also appeared to have a significant role. While they may less technology savvy than their children, their role is worth highlighting as it affects SMS consumption and eventually household relations. Farmers’ wives are usually ‘housewives’ who manage any household related activities from housekeeping to budgeting. The average mobile phone ownership in the rural, farming community is one per household. Everyone in the family shares the technology. Farmers’ wives control the household phone usage for economic reason. Phone credits/loads are purchased on a prepaid basis, and it is usually done only when it is necessary. Also, the mobile phone use is regulated as not to disrupt other household activities, such as housekeeping and studying for the children. The data reveals that hostility and aggression occur at home as a result of non-compliance with the mobile phone use regulation.

This complexity of household relations is very critical to look at to if we are to design a development communication program for the farmers.
6 years ago
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