Relationship between Use of Extension Information Services and Agricultural Productivity among Smallholder Farmers in Tana River County, Kenya
Gwademba, Goudian Kilemba
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Food security assessments reports have demonstrated that, most food insecure people stay in remote areas, with limited access to information and technology geared towards enhancing agricultural productivity. This foregoing suggests that agricultural information is relevant to agricultural productivity, particularly for smallholder farmers, who remain the foundation of agricultural production in emerging economies. Literature review of the study established that agricultural information is prerequisite to farming as it enables proper utilization of limited production resources and therefore regarded as a significant factor in enhancing productivity, but disclosed that while considerable efforts have been made by the Kenyan government to improve agricultural extension information services for smallholder farmers, low agricultural productivity has continued to be experienced in Tana River County, Kenya. It was in recognition of this value that this research was carried out with a purpose of evaluating the relationship between use of extension information services and agricultural productivity among smallholder farmers in Tana River County, Kenya. The main objective of the study was to ascertain whether increased use of extension information services correlated with increased agricultural productivity. The study adopted the Information Search Process (ISP) theory by Caroline Kuhlthau. The location of the study was Tana River County where a sample of 382 farming households was chosen from a population of 68,242 and 79 public extension information service providers selected from a total population of 85 through stratified sampling. Data was collected using questionnaires and interview schedules and both qualitative and quantitative data was captured. The research took a correlational study design and through statistical analysis using the Pearson Correlation Coefficient, Simple Linear Regression and Paired Samples T-Test, evaluated the relationship between the use of extension information services and agricultural productivity among smallholder farmers in Tana River County. A piloting of data collection instruments was undertaken in Kilifi County to test their reliability and validity. Data analysis focused on responding to research hypothesis and considering appropriate level of interpretation for each situation. The research findings revealed that, there was a moderately strong correlation coefficient averaging r=0.6 between use of extension information services and agricultural productivity in Tana River County. The study also underscored the role of ICT in improving the usefulness of agricultural extension information services and recommended the need to streamline extension information service delivery in order to ensure smallholder farmers had seamless access to agricultural information. The study was significant in that its findings are expected to benefit all agricultural stakeholders by enabling them appreciate the role of extension information services in enhancing agricultural productivity. It is expected that this study will add credibility to the agricultural extension information policy agenda for smallholder farmers all over the world.