A Study on Users and Non-Users of ICT among Farming Community
Jose AM* and Lokeswari K
Department of Communication, PSG College of Arts and Science, Coimbatore, Tamilnadu, India
- *Corresponding Author:
- Jose AM
M. Phil. Scholar, Department of Communication
PSG College of Arts and Science
Tel: +91 0422 4303300
Received Date: Jul 17, 2018; Accepted Date: Jul 31, 2018; Published Date: Aug 6, 2018
Citation: Jose AM, Lokeswari K. A Study on Users and Non-Users of ICT among Farming Community. Global Media Journal 2018, 16:31.
Copyright: © 2018 Jose AM, et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License,
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This paper considers the specific role of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) in rural development through its application in agriculture. The differences in agricultural livelihoods of farmers who make use of ICT and of those farmers who don't use ICT in agriculture for information are examined. The study analyses the information needs of the farmers, whether ICT enables timely, relevant and affordable communication needed for the farmers with ease of access and how it benefits the farmers in agriculture. When it comes to farmers who don't use ICT, the barriers to using ICT are analyzed and whether they lag behind farmers who use ICT is also examined. The study makes use of information asymmetry approach, diffusion of innovation theory and uses and gratification theory for understanding use of ICT among farmers and factors that hinder ICT usage among farmers. The study takes a qualitative approach by interviewing farmers from Somanur village in Coimbatore district. This topic comes under the theme, ‘people and problems’.
ICT, Agriculture; Farmers; Information need
Information and communication technologies
ICT is an umbrella term that refers to a range of
technologies such as internet, wireless networks, cell phones,
and other communication mediums. The technologies used for
creating, storing, processing, transmitting, displaying and
sharing information in digital form through electronic media
are referred to as Information and Communication
Technologies. ICT is often considered as an extended synonym
for Information Technology (IT), but the scope of ICT is even
broader. ICT has more recently been used to describe the
convergence of several technologies where in a common
transmission line is used to carry very diverse data in different
communication types and formats, as in merging of audiovisual, telephone and computer networks through a
common cabling system.
ICT has assisted the society with vast array of
communication possibilities and has created a ‘global village,’
in which people can communicate with others across the
world. This new era is often referred to as the ‘digital age’
where access to the internet has become a vital development
tool. But even though the digital revolution is a global
phenomenon, there exist disparities between and within
countries when it comes to the penetration, affordability, and
performance of ICT services.
Agriculture was the key stimulus for the development of
human civilizations and its history dates back thousands of
years, and has been driven and defined by different climates,
cultures, and innovations. Agriculture is the largest livelihood
provider in India, more so in the vast rural areas. At the same
time, farmers being on the brim of leaving agriculture sector
and selling their agricultural land due to unfathomable loss are
not something astonishing in our country. The economic
contribution of agriculture to India's GDP is steadily declining
with the country's broad-based economic growth. This is
mainly because of the rapid economic growth in service,
industrial and non-agricultural sectors. Still, agriculture is
demographically the broadest economic sector and plays a
significant role in the overall socio-economic fabric of India.
Agricultural development and empowerment of the farming
community are among our nation’s foremost challenges.
Information and communication technologies
(ICT) and agriculture
Internet makes it possible for farmers to gain knowledge on
all aspects of technology before its adoption . One of the
best ways to develop agriculture is by mastering ICT
knowledge and skills . When India has taken significant
strides in the field of agriculture through the Green, Yellow,
White and Blue revolutions, now it has embarked upon a
‘cyber revolution’ . Transfer of technology to farmers is of
prime importance when it comes to agricultural development.
Indian agricultural sector is still in progress in terms of
adopting itself to an industrialized and market oriented
economy from a traditional farming society. ICT is an
important tool to achieve national and individual goals for
agricultural production and sustained rural economic viability
. Information and communication technologies can increase
the efficiency, productivity and sustainability of agriculture
sector, by helping farmer’s access information easily and
cheaply to improve farm operations, through e-agriculture .
When every sector is embracing technology to get increased
production rate and reduced production cost, with great
efficiency and better time management, agricultural sector too
need to adopt technological innovations in farming and be
better equipped to tackle the problems faced by the farming
community. When farmers are vested with the responsibility
to feed the world, we are vested with responsibility to arm
them with technology to help them come to the forefront and
do farming without being victimized to bear hurdles and loss in
agriculture by letting someone else take the benefits of their
In order to get a rough idea on ICT adoption and constraints,
a study was undertaken to identify the information needs of
farmers and bottlenecks in the use of ICT by soliciting
information from users and non-users of ICT among farming
Need for the Study
When adoption of Information and Communication
Technologies to farming operations is said to be of prime
importance for development of agricultural sector, there arises
a need to analyze the extent to which farmers are able to
adopt ICT to their farming routines. To evaluate the benefits of
using ICT in agriculture, it should be examined whether there
are any notable differences in agricultural livelihoods of
farmers who make use of ICT compared to those farmers who
don’t. By doing so, we also get to understand whether farmers
are rightly exploiting the opportunities that come with ICT
usage in farming. It is also essential to investigate the
information needs of the farmers and constraints in adopting
ICT to agriculture, so that this research results can be utilized
for giving appropriate information beneficial to farmers and
formulate effective plans to help farmers to overcome the
identified barriers in adopting ICT to farming activities.
Aim of the Study
The study aims to analyze the difference in agricultural
livelihoods of farmers who use Information and
Communication Technologies in agriculture compared to those
farmers who haven’t adopted ICT to agriculture and also to
identify the challenges associated with agriculture in Somanur
Village and constraints in adopting ICT to agriculture.
Objectives of the Study
The objectives of the study are to analyze,
• The difference in agricultural livelihoods of farmers who
make use of ICT and of those farmers who don't use ICT in
• Challenges associated with agriculture in Somanur Village.
• Constraints in adopting ICT to agriculture by farmers.
RQ1: Is there any difference in agricultural livelihoods of
farmers who make use of ICT compared to those farmers who
don't use ICT in agriculture?
RQ2: Which are the most challenging stages in agriculture
where information through ICT is needed for farmers?
RQ3: What are the major barriers to using ICT in agriculture
Information asymmetry can be defined as a situation or
transactions where one party has more or better information
than the other. This causes power imbalances in transactions.
The study analyses the difference between users and nonusers
of ICT in agriculture among the farming community and
hence the concept of information asymmetry help to
understand this gap or difference. When it comes to market
economy, information regarding market conditions is assumed
to be available and accessible to all the market participants.
Due to some of the choices made by the market participants,
they have preferential information compared to others and
such markets are considered as markets with Information
Uses and gratifications approach
The uses and gratifications inquiry has been used for many
years to gain an understanding of motivations for using media,
and researchers have advocated applying the approach to new
communication technologies and specifically to the internet to
explain why users are attracted to the medium. The uses and
gratifications approach is designed to address the needs a
particular mass medium fulfills for its users . When it comes
to ICT and agriculture, this approach can be used to
understand ICT usage by farmers in agriculture.
Diffusion of innovation
Diffusion of Innovation theory by E.M. Rogers can be used
to understand the process by which an idea or product gets
adopted by specific population or social system, over time.
Adoption means that a person does something differently than
what they had previously as in purchasing or using a new
product, acquiring and performing a new behavior, etc. The
key to adoption is that the person must recognize the idea,
behavior, or product as new or innovative. The diffusion of
innovation approach helps to understand ICT adoption to
agriculture by farmers.
Review of Literature
Search for relevant literature was initiated to get an outline
on usage of ICT in agriculture by farmers, barriers to ICT
adoption for farming and information needs of farmers. Major
findings applicable to the study are tabulated below (Table 1):
||Findings relevant to the study
||Expectations of farmers from ICT
|| Results show that majority of farmers (70%) agreed that internet is the richest source and fastest means to share information, and it should be utilized for the betterment of the farming community. · Farmers expected the Government to fund Community Internet Centres and provide proper training to use internet facility.
||Abdullah and Samah 
||Factors affecting technology usage among farmers
|| Education, farmers’ perception and poverty are ranked first among the factors affecting technology usage among farmers. Training, extension personnel (methods and knowledge of extension staff) and infrastructures and ecosystem are ranked first among the outside household conditions affecting technology usage among farmers.
||Mahant, et. al. 
||Application of ICT in agriculture
||Cost of technology, not understanding the value of ICT (awareness) and personal impediments (Illiteracy or ICT skills) are the main constraints to ICT adoption by farmers.
||Kameswari, et al. 
||Users and non-users of Agricultural Market Information System (AMIS)
||Information needs of farmers in order of importance are market price, pest control, subsidy and credit, post-harvest technologies, organic farming, weather, new varieties and improved technologies. There is significant difference in the mean price obtained by farmers using AMIS and non-users.· Farmers’ groups are better equipped to access critical services and inputs. · AMIS along with farmers’ cooperatives and government support will fetch more benefits.
||De Silva and Ratnadiwakara 
||Reducing transaction costs in agriculture using ICT
||Information search cost was found to be highest during decision stage and selling stage among farmers not using ICT. · The study suggests an integrated mobile phone platform that addresses the total information needs of the farmers.
||Islam and Grönlund 
||Mobile phone based AMIS in rural context
||AMIS was found to be appropriate in processing and disseminating information. · Half of the registered users who get regular information updates, found it effective.
||Meena, et al. 
||Tackling climate change situation in agriculture through ICT
|| Opportunities: Enhancing agricultural production, improving market access and Capacity-building and empowerment. · There is inadequate awareness on use of ICT in agriculture and language difficulty in accessing the contents. Challenges: ICT programmes and policies in agriculture, relevant and timely information in appropriate formats, tailor-made information to end users, cost sharing and sustainability.
||Awuor, et al. 
|| Presents a model with target oriented data base with information on pricing, production and agriculture extension, information on demand from Ministry of Agriculture and Research institutions and ways to making these information accessible to farmers. Challenges: improved and stable communication infrastructure and connectivity, new innovations in e-agriculture, e-agriculture data as public domain and requirement of supporting applications.
||Patil, et al. 
||Adoption of ICT in agriculture
||Information in demand: market information and weather updates. Adoption constraints: illiteracy, cost and lack of awareness. Consequences: lack of contact with timely information and innovations, loss of competitiveness, income, subsidies, production and management efficiency.
||Gunupudi and De 
||Role of AMIS
||The reasons for poor success rate of AMIS are identified as economic unsustainability and ineffective implementation. Market information empowers farmers to make informed production decisions and negotiate with traders.
Table 1: Relevant literature was initiated to get an outline on usage of ICT in agriculture by farmers.
The study implements qualitative method and information
is gathered through in-depth interviews from farmers of
Somanur Village in Coimbatore district of Tamilnadu.
Questions for the interview were prepared based on the
literature reviewed. The interview was carried out by going
from one house to another in Somanur Village. Farmers who
were available and willing to spare their time responded to the
interview. Farmers were given enough freedom to discuss their
opinions and add that information that they felt was important
though it wasn’t part of the questions asked. We needed to
understand the thoughts and behaviors of the farmers as well
as the context and complete picture in terms of ICT usage
among the farming community.
The study relies mainly on opinion of the farmers to
understand the major problems they face in adopting ICT for
agriculture. The focus area of research was selected based on
proximity and where farming is the foremost means of
livelihood. 16 farmers were interviewed through snow balling
technique among which 11 farmers were non-users of ICT and
5 were users of ICT in agricultural context.
Findings and Analysis
The responses from farmers who use ICT and who don’t
make use of ICT in agriculture are analyzed and presented
Farmers who use ICT in agricultural context
Finding farmers using ICT for agricultural purposes in
Somanur village was a difficult task. To understand the extent
to which farmers are implementing ICT in agriculture and the
benefits enjoyed by those farmers who make use of ICT in
agriculture, five users of ICT were interviewed and their
responses, opinions and views are consolidated below.
It was found that all of the five farmers were using smart
phones with internet facility. Though they have mobile phones
with internet connectivity, none of them are aware on how to
make use of it to get the information they need at various
stages of farming apart from using Whatsapp platform. All of
them are said to be part of one or more agriculture related
Whatsapp groups with friends and friends of friends from
different places as members and they discuss their issues,
needs and share agriculture related information. Other than
that they depend on traditional sources of information such as
television, radio, newspaper and magazines to get agriculture
They were all aware of the scope of using ICT for taking a
step forward in agriculture sector. According to the farmers,
there is a need for educating them and giving them practical
training on how to use internet facility and access agriculture
related information for agricultural development. “The service
providers should offer their service at low cost or they have to
come forward to promote internet use among the farming
community,” says Govindarajan. The farmers are of the opinion
that the younger generation should teach farmers on how to
use internet, since they have learned it either with the help of
their sons or younger brothers. They said that there are no
Community Internet Centres in their village, where they can
access agriculture related information, which is also a
requirement for the farming community.
The farmers also expressed their need to have an efficiently
working farmers’ association or peer group where there is
sharing of needful information. According to a farmer, success
and failure stories of farmers should be shared among farmers.
Government schemes and policies were also said to be
necessary for promoting ICT use among farmers for uplifting
the farming community.
“If a person is well informed about the route before he
starts his journey, he will clearly know the path he need to
take, the turns he should make use and thus save time, but
when an uninformed person starts his journey there are
chances that he can take wrong turns and get stuck in
between,” remarked Govindarajan when asked about the
difference between farmers who use ICT in agriculture and
farmers who don’t. Govindarajan has referred the person who
is well informed about his journey to a farmer who use ICT for
agriculture purposes and the uninformed person is referred to
as farmer who doesn’t make use of ICT in agriculture.
Water management: The most challenging task in
agriculture seems to be water management according to these
farmers. During the time they get adequate rain, there is no
knowledge about how to properly store water for future. All
the interviewed farmers have told that they have sold portion of their agriculture land at one point or the other due to
inability to do agriculture because of water scarcity.
Selling: As per these farmers there is information need at
selling stage regarding storage of agricultural products. One of
the farmers opined that the market demand should be known
by the farmers because sometimes most of the farmers end up
cultivating the same vegetable and getting fewer amounts.
According to him, farmers should be equipped with
professional efficiency in marketing agricultural products.
Farmers who don’t use ICT in agricultural
To understand the problems of farmers who don’t use ICT in
agriculture, 11 non-users of ICT were interviewed and their
responses, opinions and views are consolidated below.
Barriers in adopting ICT to agriculture
Lack of awareness: The non-users of ICT were found to
share common reasons for not having used ICT for
agricultural purposes. All of the 11 farmers who are nonusers
of ICT expressed their lack of awareness on how to use
ICT in farming rounes. They do have various information
needs but are uninformed on using ICT to access the
information that is required at various stages of farming.
They haven’t ever attempted to know about using internet
facility to gather information for farming, as they say that
they have many other major concerns at hand which they
have to deal with presently.
There are no Community Internet Centres or farmers’
associations or groups functioning for the welfare of the
farmers in Somanur village. Also, no awareness programmes
have been organized on implementing ICT in agriculture for
the betterment of farmers’ livelihoods. Internet penetration
is nil among these farmers. They also expressed that the
Government should allocate funds to promote use of internet
facility among farmers to access information they need and
should also implement programmes and policies for the
benefit of the farmers.
Traditional practices: When asked about the latest
advancement they know in the field of agriculture, they were
only familiar with the drip irrigation system, which was
actually introduced long back. Other than the drip irrigation
system, the farmers were using traditional practices in all
stages of farming. Even the younger generation, sons of these
farmers, also tend to follow the traditional practices in
agriculture and have not taken any steps forward to integrate
technology into agriculture or using internet facility to find
solutions to problems they currently face. The farmers who
were not using internet facility was lacking information on
latest updates in the field of agriculture.
Major challenges in farming
Water scarcity: Lack of sufficient water for doing farming is
a major threat to farmers of Somanur District. “There is no
water at all to do farming. Thankfully we received somewhat rain this time, but last year we had to buy water to save the
vegetation,” notes Aarmugam, a farmer from Somanur. “Water
is not at all there! How can we do farming? It is really
challenging for us to do farming in this situation,” says
Shanmugam, another farmer.
Harvesting: All of the 11 farmers expressed that the most
challenging stages in agriculture are harvesting and selling.
During harvesting, labor cost is said to be very high and wage
per laborer can be Rs. 400 to Rs.1000 per day. “Farmers are
not able to succeed due to high labor cost,” notes
Shanmugam. The famers expressed their necessity to have
newer technologies to bring down labor cost by reducing
manual work. But, none of the interviewed farmers are sure
on what new methods or technology should be adapted to
effectively reduce labor cost. Due to high labor cost these
farmers are said to be facing significant loss in agriculture.
Selling: When it comes to selling, packaging and preserving
the agricultural products are the challenging tasks, according
to these farmers. Hybrid varieties in the markets will stay fresh
for longer period than the organic agricultural products and
hence the farmers are in need for cool storage facilities and
proper preserving methods during the selling stage. They all
agreed that they need to be updated on effective methods to
preserve and store their agricultural produce.
Farmers using internet facility through their mobile phones
are not well aware as how to make best use of it to access
agriculture related information they are very much in need of.
They use Whatsapp groups to connect with other farmers and
share information. When it comes to farmers who are not
using internet facility for accessing agriculture related
information, they lack knowledge on the scope and benefits of
using ICT in agriculture and are following traditional methods
being unaware of latest technologies and updates. Both the
groups of farmers face problems due to inadequate water for
farming and challenges during selling stage. Farmers, who use
internet, lack practical training to access needful information
to tackle the problems they face currently. When non-users of
ICT are confronted by high labor cost and loss in agriculture,
they are not in a position to buy smartphones and pay for
internet connectivity. There is a great need for establishing
Community Internet Centres funded by Government and
active farmers’ association for promoting as well as providing
practical training for farmers on using ICT for agricultural
development and attaining professional efficiency in marketing
agricultural products. So the Information asymmetry approach, uses and gratification theory and diffusion of
innovation theory are partially applicable to the study.
The study can yield more insightful information if conducted
through focus group interviews and discussions with farmers.
Awareness programmes related to ICT and agriculture can be
organized by the Government and farmers’ responses to it can
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