ICTs and information needs of rural female farmers in Delta State, Nigeria.

Author:Achugbue, Edwin I.
Position:Report
 
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Introduction

Delta State is a state in Nigeria, comprising mainly Igbo (Anioma people), Urhobo, Isoko, Ijaw and Itsekiri. The whole ethnic groups that comprise the Delta State are administratively grouped into three senatorial districts namely Delta North, Delta South and Delta Central. Delta State is an oil-producing state of Nigeria, yet majority of the Deltans are farmers, which is the major occupation in the state. The population of Delta State is 4,098,291. Out of this population, females are 2,024,085 (Federal Republic of Nigeria, Official Gazette, No.24, Vol.94, 2007). Out of this female population, farmers are 1,032,013.

In most states in Nigeria, investment in Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) has focused mainly on the urban areas although ICTs have a great potential to help meet the needs of rural female farmers and to benefit rural communities. Minyua (2000) once asserted that agriculture is the mainstay of most African economies and occupies a pivotal position in the development of the continent. He further stated that agriculture/farming as an occupation has been neglected for too long with development growth rate of 1.7%. He further opined that female farmers constitute 70% of the agricultural workforce and produce 80% of the region's food.

Looking at the information needs of rural women in Nigeria, Unomah (1998) posits that rural people need information on how to apply fertilizers in the farm, preservation of harvested crops, and marketing of the farm produce. Information is essential for facilitating agricultural and rural development and bringing about social and economic change. but it is sad to know that most African countries have not devoted adequate attention to providing their citizens with access to information especially in rural areas, where 70-80% of the African population residents (Youcleowei, Diallo and Spiff, 1996). Information initiatives and policies should therefore be tailored towards strengthening the grass roots, with special emphasis on women, and be developed in places without public libraries or other information resources. this may be achieved by setting up functional integrated information systems in rural and peri-urban communities, which would bring a new and diverse resources to enable female farmers to access information (Munyua, 2000).

Women in Delta State of Nigeria engage in various farming activities such as planting, weeding, hoeing, harvesting, threshing and winnowing of agricultural products as well as the processing, storage and marketing of these farm produce. Many of these female farmers in Delta State are also directly involved in the production of some important crops as yams, maize, cassava, groundnut, among others. Similarly, a good number of women in rural areas undertake many responsibilities concerning care and management of farm animals like poultry, goats and sheep (Loagun, 1998).

Literature Review

Information need is construed in the sense of data or a set of data specially required, enabling the user to make an appropriate decision on any related problem facing him or her any particular time (Solomon, 2002).

Information is needed because it affects individuals' living activities. According to Dervin (1995), information represents an ordered reality about nature of the world people live in. Research on information seeking concurs that information is tailored to individuals' jobs and to their tasks within those jobs...

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