The Use of Participatory Approaches in Developing ICT-Based Systems for Disseminating Agricultural Knowledge and Information for Farmers in Developing Countries: The Case of Tanzania
This paper provides an insight on the use of various participatory approaches to develop ICTs to the rural farming communities. The paper shows how collective groups of farmers can be empowered through involvement of different stakeholders in a participatory action research. The paper also discusses how participatory action research will help the farming community in adopting ICT-based solutions for agriculture. This in turn will contribute in solving problems as well as assisting decision making in identifying technological and agricultural needs. In this study, a total of 64 researchers and extension workers and 320 rural farmers were involved. Primary data were collected using a self-administered questionnaire and interviews. Data were analyzed using descriptive statistics tool. The results indicate that many ICT- based solutions for agriculture are not adopted by farmers and other stakeholders in various agricultural value chains because those ICTs were developed without using participatory approaches. Moreover, the results from study indicate that participatory action research approaches such as Participatory Communication (PV), Participatory Video (PV), Participatory Learning and Action Research (PLAR), Farmer Participatory Research (FPR), Informal-Mobile Learning Research (IMLR) have a significant impact on the effective use of ICTs in rural farming community and the agricultural domain in general. Among of these participatory approaches, the IMLR and PLAR have shown to be more effective because of availability and interactive mobile learning environments that excite interests, commitments and encourages participatory attitudes among famers and researchers. This study provides an evident that ICTs has a dominant position to alleviate rural poverty and strengthen the agriculture productivity through participatory approaches. We recommend that a strong commitment of all actors in agriculture value chain is needed so that they can collaborate to identify the problem, analysis and design possible solutions and finally, implement and later on use those developed ICTs to increase agriculture productivity.