Role of ICTS in Accessing and disseminating Information for Improved Urban Livestock Keeping in Tanzania. A Review of Related Literature.

Author:Consolata, Angello


Livestock production is one of the major agricultural activities in Tanzania. The sub sector contributes to national food supply, converts rangelands resources into products suitable for human consumption and is a source of income both to the farmers and to the country. It provides about 30 per cent of the Agricultural Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Out of the sub sector's contribution to GDP, about 40 percent originates from beef production, 30 percent from Milk production and another 30 percent from poultry and small stock (URT, 2007). Approximately 99 percent of the livestock in Tanzania belongs to small scale livestock keepers with big ranches and dairy farms constituting the remaining one percent. In Dar-es-Salaam urban farming is the second largest employer after petty trade and labor, and 74 percent of urban farmers keep livestock. Urban livestock keeping in Tanzania is regulated in practice and is commonly practiced as zero-grazing, as reguired by the by-laws of urban livestock keeping (Jacobi et al, 2005). Development of the livestock sector, therefore, could contribute to reducing poverty level substantially. The governmental development strategy to increase livestock production and productivity sector falls into the broader National Strategy for Agricultural Development. The main objective is the promotion of a market-driven livestock sector able to support the income levels of the poor livestock keepers (URT, 2005).

FAO (1998a) defines an urban livestock system as a form of livestock keeping that is concentrated in and around cities, as opposed to rural livestock keeping that is concentrated in rural areas. In this study, the term 'urban' has been defined as a geographical location found in a city or town. The term 'peri-urban' has been defined as an area that immediately surrounds the city or town. 'Urban livestock keeping' in the context of this study is defined as the keeping of livestock in and around cities and towns (refer section 1.7 in this thesis). Since 'peri-urban' is an area that immediately surrounds an 'urban' area, then the definition of 'urban livestock keeping' comprises the definitions of both urban and peri-urban areas. According to FAO (2007), an urban livestock system is therefore characterized by a large variation of livestock systems that occur in and around densely populated areas and that strongly interact with the surrounding wealthy as well as poor human communities in different ways, at several levels of system-hierarchy and with nearby and distant rural areas.

In nearly all developing countries, urban livestock keeping is becoming increasingly important, as urban demand for animal products rises. The demand for information on livestock production is also growing, both in the sense of demands expressed by the producers themselves, and in the more general sense of a growing potential for increasing production through the delivery of information (Morton and Matthewman, 1996). An effective and profitable livestock production cannot be achieved if information is neither available nor accessible to the livestock keepers. Information is very important because it will enable the livestock keepers to domesticate their animals in the most profitable way. This is emphasized by Brodnig and Mayer-Schonberger (2000) who reports that accurate and reliable information is a key element for sustainable development. Livestock keepers need information on livestock diseases, nutrition, treatment and control of diseases, breeding techniques and markets for their products, among many other information needs. These information needs may be grouped into five headings: agricultural inputs; extension education; agricultural technology; agricultural credit; and marketing (Ozowa, 1995). All this information has to be made available, accessed and used by the livestock keepers in order to increase productivity and hence improve their livelihoods. There are various ICTs that can be used by urban livestock keepers in accessing information as opposed to rural livestock keepers. Examples of these technologies include; telephones/mobile phones, television, radio and the Internet. These technologies can be very useful in providing various types of information to the livestock keepers depending on their information needs.

Research has shown that lack of access to information is one of the serious obstacles to development, including agricultural development. Livestock husbandry faces lack of research and services provision: information access and adoption of improved technologies is limited for small scale urban livestock keepers. This is made worse by the fact that existing services are not tailored towards their needs and circumstances (CIRAD, 2009). One of the coping strategies of this problem is the organization and networking among small scale urban livestock keepers to improve access to information and other services: urban livestock keepers should become more aware of the potential benefits of organization and networking as a means to access information and services and improve marketing strategies (Guendel, 2002). According to Munyua (2008), emerging technologies and new materials are key success factors in addressing the challenges of small-scale farmers. Information and knowledge are considered prime productive resources and play a key role in ensuring food security and sustainable development. Ramkumar (2005) reported that, dissemination of knowledge through appropriate delivery methods is important. Although modern telecommunication systems have made rapid progress, the benefits have yet to penetrate to small scale livestock owners. Kapange (2002) has reported that, ICTs are crucial in facilitating communication and access to agricultural information. Since agriculture is the national priority sector, it is one of the potentially beneficial areas for the application of ICTs for economic transformation. Development of networks and use of low-cost ICTs enhance timely access to accurate and reliable information. It therefore calls for investment of part of the country's limited resources for ICT development.


2.1 Introduction

The literature review gives an overview of urban and peri-urban agriculture with emphasis on the importance and challenges of urban livestock keeping around the world and the actions that can be taken to deal with the challenges. The practice of urban and peri-urban agriculture in Tanzania is discussed with its policy and legal actions. The information needs of urban livestock keepers are discussed followed by the limitations of using extension services as the main information sources used by livestock keepers. Use of ICTs and the challenges of using ICTs in agricultural extension services are also discussed. The review looks into the ICT environment in Tanzania, followed by the different types of ICTs (i.e. radio/television, mobile phones and Internet) and how these are used in accessing agricultural information. Here, the literature review also discusses some of the ICT based initiatives in Africa and specifically in Tanzania and emphasizes on the potential contribution of ICTs in agriculture, economic development and poverty reduction. Finally, the review points out on the limitations of using ICTs and the factors influencing the use of ICTs in Africa in addition to the digital divide.

2.2 An overview of urban and peri-urban agriculture

Veenhuizen (2006) defines urban agriculture as the growing of plants and the raising of animals for food and other uses within and around cities and towns, and related activities such as the production and delivery of inputs, and the processing and marketing of products. Urban agriculture, which includes both crop production and livestock rising, has been recognized as serving an important role in the economic, social, and dietary life of many cities in Sub-Saharan Africa (UNCHS, 1996). Schmidt (2011) points out that, in addition to being an important source of fresh produce, meat, and dairy products for consumers, it plays a vital economic role as a source of income for producers and distributors and also serves a socializing function for farmers, communities, and neighborhoods. In addition, urban agriculture has a number of secondary impacts, including reducing food transportation costs and providing environmental benefits. Whether practiced at the subsistence level or undertaken as a way to supplement income by a professional, urban agriculture is a widely practiced, integral component of the urban environment.

Schmidt (2011) further argues that, until recently the main focus of agricultural development initiatives has been on rural areas with the view that improved food production in rural areas can supply the expanding urban population. This is especially true for livestock production which has received little attention from research and development initiatives in urban areas. According to ICT Update (2006), much of the agricultural policy community has for the most part focused on rural agriculture, but as many as 800 million people (most of them in the developing world) are involved in urban farming. Moreover, some 15% to 20% of the world's food is actually being produced by urban farmers. The poor in developing countries generally spend between 50% and 70% of their incomes on food. However, urban agriculture can produce significant reductions in household expenditures on food, and also open up opportunities for barter and selling surplus produce for cash. Although urban agriculture is often associated with uncontrolled activity, and governments too often have seen urban agriculture as a problem to be stamped out rather than encouraged, the practice thus should be a component of any strategy for poverty alleviation. Until recently, some few authorities have recognized the importance of urban agriculture as a productive sector. Many cities are now reassessing this attitude as they...

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