Developing domestic agricultural production is the goal of every country towards food security. This is the same with Trinidad, a country in the Caribbean, where they launched their National Food Production Plan (2012 – 2015), headed by their Ministry of Agriculture Land and Fisheries. This plan’s success depends on the effectiveness and efficiency of their Ministry Extension, which is responsible for connecting directly to the Trinidadian farmers. However, the ministry faces challenges with the scarcity of officers, dependence on top-down strategies, and limited traditional information dissemination methods such as farm visits and one-way mass media (Ganpat et al., 2014; Ram et al., 2017; Seepersad, 2003).
Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs), which are being used to collect and transmit data through technological devices like mobile phones, are deemed effective solutions to the said challenges proven to serve farmers in the Caribbean effectively (Ganpat et al., 2010; McNamara, 2017). Regarding this, the study of Narine and Harder. (2019) provided an explicit discussion on the use of ICTs of the Extension Officers of Trinidad and their perception of Short Messaging Service (SMS) to communicate with the farmers. From all the existing ICTs, SMS through the mobile phone was chosen for this study because it is the most available function in mobile devices, even with the older ones, proving its accessibility to any farmer who has a mobile phone (World Bank, 2017). Moreover, the data of the said study were collected through census with the guidance of the diffusion of innovation theory.
Narine et al. (2019) study show that most extension officers use voice calls and SMS through their mobile phones to contact farmers. At the same time, those who were not using are willing to learn and use ICTs if it will improve their service. Based also on their general perception, the Trinidadian farmers are also capable of using mobile phones and their SMS function, and if not, they are also willing to learn. These only show that ICTs, specifically SMS through mobile phones, have a higher chance of being effective and efficient in Trinidad.
However, the study also revealed a lack of programs and policies that support and enable SMS use in extension work, which should be addressed to attain the aimed benefits.
For further information about the study, you can view it here.
Ganpat, W. G., Ragbir, S., & de Freitas, C. (2010). The use of information and communication technologies in the modernization of Caribbean agriculture: Focus on agricultural extension (No. 529-2016-38253).
Ganpat, W. G., Webster, N., & Narine, L. (2014). Farmers’ satisfaction with extension services in the organization of Eastern Caribbean States.
McNamara, K., Belden, C., Kelly, T., Pehu, E., & Donovan, K. (2017). Introduction: ICT in agricultural development.
Narine, L. K., and Harder, A.(2019). Extension officers’ adoption of modern information communication technologies to interact with farmers of Trinidad. Journal of International Agricultural and Extension Education, 26(1), 17-34.
Ram, D., Ganpat, W., & Narine, L. K. (2017). Management performance of farmers groups and its impact on membership: A prerequisite for group sustainability in Trinidad. Journal of Agricultural Extension and Rural Development, 9(10), 239-246.
Seepersad, J. (2003). Case study on ICTs in agricultural extension in Trinidad & Tobago. CTA ICTs–Transforming Agricultural Extension.
World Bank. (2017). ICT in Agriculture (Updated Edition): Connecting Smallholders to Knowledge, Networks, and Institutions. The World Bank.
Photos source: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
Article contributed by: Mark Vincent Mercene, CCComDev intern