Accessibility and Utilization of Written Publications for Enhancing Agricultural Productivity in Kandara, Kigumo, Murang’a South Districts of Murang’a County, Kenya
Joshua, Reuben Njuguna
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The aim of this study was to identify the challenges encountered by farmers in a accessing and using written information materials in Kandara, Kigumo and Murang’a South Districts of Murang’a County. The objective of the study was to investigate the accessibility and utilization of written agricultural information materials by the farmers in the three districts where low agricultural productivity and high poverty levels continue to be experienced, despite having some high agricultural potential areas with sufficient rainfall. The study used the survey design to establish the sources of information used by farmers in their agricultural activities. The target population was 114,578 farm families in the three districts from whom 390 heads of families were sampled using systematic random sampling technique. Three agricultural officers, three veterinary officers and three livestock development officers were also included in the sample. These were purposively sampled. Two questionnaires were used for data collection- - one for the farmers, and the other for the officers. Both questionnaires were pretested before they were used to collect data so as to ensure the reliability and validity of the test items. The questionnaires for farmers were hand-delivered by the researcher and collected immediately after completion, while those for the officers were also hand-delivered but collected later after completion. Collected data was analyzed both quantitatively and qualitatively as per the study objectives using the Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS). Data was presented in form of Tables, Figures, Text and Percentages. The study established that relevant written agricultural information materials were not readily accessible to most farmers due to: unavailability of the materials (57.9%), illiteracy (20.4%) and lack of interest and time (8.5%) on the part of some literate farmers. The study concluded that many farmers in Kandara, Kigumo and Murang’a South Districts did not use written agricultural information materials for their farming activities. This could lead them to not making well informed decisions in their farming activities, thereby resulting to low agricultural productivity. The study suggested possible solutions to the problems encountered by the farmers relating to accessibility and utilization of relevant written agricultural information materials. One of the suggestions was establishment of Agricultural Information and Documentation Centres at several levels including district, divisional, locational, sub-locational and village levels. The centres should be stocked with relevant written agricultural materials for use by farmers. It also recommended establishment of bookshops within farmers’ neighbourhoods and stocking them with relevant written agricultural information materials which farmers could buy. To tackle the problem of illiteracy, the study recommended that Murang’a County Government embark on an ambitious adult literacy programme to empower illiterate citizens including farmers to learn how to read and write.