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Agricultural information networks, information needs and risk management strategies: a survey of farmers in Indo-Gangetic Plains of India

Author: Mittal, S.
Author: Mamta, M.
Year: 2013
ISBN: 978-607-8263-31-8
Abstract: Access to reliable, timely and relevant information can help significantly and in many ways to reduce farmers’ risk and uncertainty, empowering them to make good decisions. However, whether or not this access leads to impact often depends on issues related to markets, institutions, policies and resource availability. Several studies have shown that the wide availability and multiple sources of information have not significantly changed farmers’ behavior towards new technologies and information - a fact that is often attributed to a lack of knowledge or understanding of farmers’ perspectives and needs on the part of information providers. The main objective of the study was to identify the information needs of farmers that would enable them manage risk in the wheat, maize and rice cropping systems in Indo-Gangetic Plains (IGP). And also analyze the factors that impact the selection of information sources by farming households. This study surveyed 1,200 farmers in the 5 major states (Bihar, Haryana, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal) of the Indo-Gangetic Plains (IGP) of India. It assessed farmers’ information needs and information networks. The main objective was to identify the information that farmers needed to be able to manage risk in IGP wheat, maize and rice cropping systems. The study analyzes factors that influence the choice of information source by farming households, the extent and potential benefit to farmers of mobile phone use to access agricultural information and farmers’ perceptions regarding the expanded use of mobile phones to manage production and marketing risks. The farmers surveyed accessed information on agriculture from 17 different sources, which were grouped into four categories: (1) face-to-face interaction, (2) other farmers, (3) traditional media and (4) modern information and communication technology (ICT). For each source, farmers were asked their opinion regarding accessibility, relevance, reliability, frequency of use and timeliness, with reference to different crops. More than 90% of the farmers cited other farmers in their own or neighboring villages as the most reliable, easily accessible source of information. Most farmers have access to multiple sources of information; almost one-third use a combination of three sources. Despite this, they are not able to distinctively categorize any of the sources as the most useful or timely. A multivariate probit specification was used to examine whether there was any significant difference between farmers’ socioeconomic background and their choice of a source category. The results suggest that large farm size, better education level and large number of crops grown increase the likelihood of farmers accessing information from more advanced or modern sources. The rising spread of mobile telephony in almost all states of the IGP shows the potential of delivering information through mobile phones. On the other hand, there is wide variance in farmers’ perceptions regarding the usefulness of mobile phones or mobile-based information services. Whereas 99% of the farmers surveyed had access to mobile phones, only 41% used them for purposes relating to agriculture. The impact of mobile phones as a source of information for farming depends on how mobile networks are able to link the farmers to required information in a timely and accurate manner. This study also shows that, although mobile phones play an important role in bridging the information gap, they cannot substitute for face-to-face interaction and their use to deliver information has to be complemented with other information sources.
Format: PDF
Language: English
Publisher: CIMMYT
Serie: Socioeconomics Working Paper
Copyright: CIMMYT manages Intellectual Assets as International Public Goods. The user is free to download, print, store and share this work. In case you want to translate or create any other derivative work and share or distribute such translation/derivative work, please contact indicating the work you want to use and the kind of use you intend; CIMMYT will contact you with the suitable license for that purpose.
Type: Book
Country focus: India
Region: South Asia
Place of Publication: Mexico
Pages: ix, 29 pages
Serie Number: 10
Agrovoc: FARMERS
Agrovoc: SURVEYS

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  • Socioeconomics
    Including topics such as farming systems, markets, impact & targeting, innovations, and GIS

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