Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Quarterly Journal of International Agriculture

Quarterly Journal of International Agriculture No. 3/14

Determinants of Awareness and Use ICT-based Market Information Services in Developing-Country Agriculture: The Case of Smallholder Farmers in Kenya

Julius J. Okello and Oliver K. Kirui
University of Nairobi, Nairobi, Kenya

Zachary M. Gitonga
International Centre for Maize and Wheat Improvement, Nairobi, Kenya

Georgina W. Njiraini
International Livestock Research Institute, Nairobi, Kenya

Jonathan M. Nzuma
University of Nairobi, Nairobi, Kenya


Access by smallholder farmers to markets has traditionally been constrained by lack of market information. Yet progress in smallholder agriculture is inconceivable without greater market participation. The desire to strengthen farmer access to market has thus resulted in the emergence of many agricultural projects that use Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) in developing countries over the last decade. These technologies focus on providing market information services (MIS) to farmers. This study uses regression techniques and data collected from 379 smallholder farmers in Kenya to examine the conditioners of awareness and use of ICT-based MIS. The study finds that transaction costs, the characteristics of the area in which ICT-based projects are implemented and farmer endowments with human and financial capital play an important role in smallholder farmers’ awareness, use and/or extent of use of ICT-based MIS projects. It concludes that awareness and the use of ICT-based MIS is driven by farmer, farm and location-specific characteristics as well as various capital endowment factors. The study discusses the implications of these findings for policy and practice.

Keywords: smallholder farmers, ICT-based MIS, awareness and use, Kenya

JEL: Q13, Q16

Vol. 53 (2014), No. 3: 263-282