Agricultural informational flow in informal communication networks of farmers in Ghana
Despite the rapid growth in the use of modern communication media to improve access to agricultural information, local information networks remain an important means of communication among rural folk. This study examined informal communication networks of rural farmers in the Ahafo Ano south district of Ghana to determine how they can be harnessed to improve the provision of agricultural information. The objectives were two-fold, to: (i) identify local information networks and characteristics of the key communicators and (ii) determine how the structural properties of the networks affect the flow of agricultural information. Snowball sampling was used to select respondents from three purposively-selected communities in the district. Sociograms were used to reveal the ties between network actors. Key communicators of agricultural information were found to be significantly older and had higher farm output than the rest of the population and tended to occupy leadership positions in their community. Thus, extension service providers should target such key communicators when introducing new information and technology as they can serve as essential channels of information to other farmers in the community. It was also observed that network density values were generally low indicating that the networks are open to diverse sources of information. Low degree centrality measures indicated frequent sharing of information among several central actors rather than through one central person.
Agricultural extension service providers should identify such farmers who can serve as intermediaries between actors to help disseminate information in rural communities.
Keywords: key communicators, farmers, rural communities, social networks, extension agents