Availability and Use of Mobile Phones for Information Dissemination by Public Extension Agents in Delta State, Nigeria
The study assessed the availability and dissemination of information to farmers using mobile phones by public extension agents in Delta state, Nigeria. Data were collected from 64 randomly selected public extension agents from the three agricultural zones in the state. Majority (98.4%) of the extension agents were not provided with institutional mobile phones to aid information dissemination to clientele. However, about 97% of the respondents affirmed that they possess personal mobile phones, which they (92%) use to disseminate information to farmers. Interactions with farmers were mainly through phone calls (84.4%) and short message services (SMSs) (71.9%). Mobile phones were frequently used in disseminating information on availability of new crop varieties (M = 2.1), and available markets for sale of crop produce (M = 2.0). The study points to the need for the public extension service to collaborate with network providers in dissemination of short programmed messages or calls that are beneficial to the farmers as well as creating a hotline desk that will readily provide answers to the immediate needs of farmers. This will facilitate the achievement of the agricultural transformation agenda (ATA) of the federal ministry of agriculture which aims at reaching the farmers with innovative agricultural information as well as agro inputs.
Key words: Availability, Use, Mobile phone, Extension agents and Delta state agricultural development programme