An assessment of mobile phone-based dissemination of weather and market information in the Upper West Region of Ghana
This article (PDF) in Agriculture & Food Security Journal assesses the usefulness, constraints, and factors likely to influence farmers’ decisions to patronize mobile phone-based weather and market information. The rapid growth of mobile phones in Ghana has opened up the possibility of delivering timely and useful weather and market information to farmers at costs lower than traditional agricultural extension services. The study uses primary data from 310 farmers in the Upper West Region. Results show that contact with agricultural extension agents and farmer-to-farmer extension services significantly influences farmers’ decision to patronize mobile phone-based weather and market information. Regardless of sex, income status, and age group, farmers generally rate mobile phone-based weather and market information as very useful. The constraints to the utilization of mobile phone-based weather and market information include inexact information, complex text messages, information that are too costly to implement, and poor infrastructure. In order to improve the utilization of mobile phone-based weather and market information, disseminators of mobile phone-based information such as Esoko should constantly update and provide client-specific information. Improvements in mobile phone networks and related services will enhance the utilization of mobile phone-based weather and market information. Furthermore, agricultural extension projects should consider introducing toll-free calling and messaging services. Alternatively, agricultural projects could provide free mobile phone services for a lead-farmer who would then serve as a nucleus source of information for a host of farmers since farmer-to-farmer extension seems to be effective.