VIRTUAL OUTREACH: USE OF MOBILE TECHNOLOGIES FOR KNOWLEDGE MANAGEMENT AND EXTENSION SERVICES IN RURAL COMMUNITIES

Small farmers dominate farming in the Caribbean, where state extension and advisory services are financially stretched. The provision of timely, accurate advice, therefore, is less than adequate. The context of the problem investigated spans geographical locations with primary sites located in St. Vincent and with Trinidad and Tobago with secondary testing sites such as Belize, Kenya, and St. Kitts and Nevis. Agricultural field staff participated in the testing of the Virtual Outreach System. The Virtual Outreach System addresses the constraints and limitations of extension workers. Using a smart phone queries can be sent to a subject matter expert at the University of the West Indies, with or without a photo attached, and gets a response within 48 hours. Developed in September 2011, a virtual extension outreach pilot project was tested in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Belize and Kenya between October 2011 and January 2012 allowing for modifications to meet farmers' specific needs. Positive results were obtained, showing that information and communication technologies (ICTs) could have substantial impact on agriculture, as it could improve institutional information management, and communication between regional cooperation institutions and farmers, promote trade, financial cooperation and efficiency in key sectors such as agriculture and education. Results obtained from the focus group used to evaluate the initiative were contrary to popular belief that farmers are typically stuck with the old fashioned mind set and prone to rigid behaviour as far as technology adoption is concerned. In fact, they were very eager to learn new techniques. Most of the farmers showed immense interest in getting latest information and learning techniques which could transform their "age-old" farming methods.


Issue Date:
2013
Publication Type:
Conference Paper/ Presentation
DOI and Other Identifiers:
Record Identifier:
https://ageconsearch.umn.edu/record/253574
PURL Identifier:
http://purl.umn.edu/253574
Total Pages:
13




 Record created 2017-04-01, last modified 2020-10-28

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