Awareness of the farmers about benefit of using information and communication technology (ICT) towards increased farm productivity in Bangladesh
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The main focus of the study was to find out the use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) mediated extension service by the farmers for increasing farm productivity. Six ICT centers were established during 2010 in 6 villages under working area of Bangladesh Agricultural University Extension Center (BAUEC) for supplying farm information to the farmers. Since then farm information has been provided to the farmers by using ICT facilities. Motivation campaign was conducted among the farmers of BAUEC about utility of ICT center. Data were collected by using structured questionnaire and check list from a randomly selected sample of 120 out of 900 farmers of BAUEC. One-fifth (20 percent) of the farmers were highly aware about the role of ICT, 45.8 percent having medium awareness while 34.2 percent of the farmers had low awareness about the role of ICT in dissemination of farm information. The initial response of the farmers seems positive and encouraging since ICT is a new initiative in extension work. Majority (75 percent) of the farmers considered the benefit/outcome of using ICT in agriculture as medium to high, while 25 percent of the farmers opined the benefit as low. It was found that the farmers using ICT in farming activities have increased 5.91 percent of their farm productivity (rice production) in compare to immediate past year while farmers having no exposure to ICT have also increased 3.90 percent of farm productivity. This can apparently be assumed that the ICT alone can contribute 2.01 percent increase of farm productivity. The awareness of the farmers was found to have positive significant correlation with benefit of using ICT in agriculture. Among the characteristics, level of education, training exposure and extension media contact of the farmers were highly correlated with benefit of using ICT in farming. The other characteristics of the farmers had no significant relationships with their use of ICT in getting farm information. The majority of the respondents were young to middle aged while all of them have varying levels of literacy and average family size. Considering the farm size and annual income, large majority of the farmers were resource-poor and having good amount of farming experience. The farmers mostly preferred local sources while professional sources were less preferred for getting farm information. The farmers were found to have poor involvement in various socio-cultural organizations while moderate extent of training exposure. The management of ICT centers and technical ‘know how’ of BAUEC extension personnel were the problems faced by the farmers in using ICT for useful farming information. Strengthening of monitoring and supervision of ICT centers and motivational campaign could minimize majority of the problems to a reasonable extent has been opined by the farmers.