Abul Kashem - Use of Mobile Phone

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					Farmers‟ use of Mobile phones in Receiving
Agricultural Information towards Agricultural

                 Dr. M. Abul Kashem
             Bangladesh Agricultural University
       Department of Agricultural Extension Education
               Mymensingh 2202, Bangladesh
          Tel: +88-091-67401ext. 2547(W), 4547(H)
                 Mobile:+88-01711-957 558
Bangladesh At a Glance
Bangladesh is an agricultural country – agriculture
alone contribute about 25 per cent of the GDP.

With an area of 143,998 sq km it has population of
about 165 million ( area of Uganda is 241,038 sq km
with popn. of about 32 million, while area of Sweden
is 450,295 sq km with popn. of about 90 million).

Women constitute almost half of the total
population More than70 percent of working
population are involved in agricultural activities.

There are quite a good number of GOs and NGOs
are involved in communicating farmers towards
agricultural development.
Major GOs work for agricultural development are:
    DAE, DLS, DoF DAM and BRDB

Major NGOs involved in agric. dev are:
    BRAC, PROSHIKA, RDRS, Grameen Krishi
 Gov. organization devoted to transfer agric
 information is:
    AIS (Agriculture Information Service)
 At present AIS has established 12 AICs across the
 country with mobile and internet facilities and it has
 plans to extend AICs to 4500 unions      by 2020

Private Mobile and Internet Service Provider to
     D-Net, Banglalink, Palli Phone
 D-Net has its own information centres and doing excellent jobs
 in providing need-based information especially to women and
                disadvantaged groups of people.
 Chronological Dev. of D-Net Activities

 2003: Establishment of 13 Information Centre (IC)
 (through these centres information were collected for the types of
 information needed by the women, handicapped people and older

2004: Lady in IC was popularly known as “Mobile
( ML helped women, disadvantaged people to contact with experts in agric.,
  livestock, fisheries, health & FP and law in the capital)

2005: D-Net received Gender and ICT Award

2008: MLs were given 5 days trg. & their
 designation were changed to “Welfare
 Information Lady”
      Facilities Available to WIL
1. Laptop having longer charge facilities
2. Modem for connecting internet for e-mail , Skype
    & browsing for other purposes
3. Mobile Phone
4. Small printer
5. Digital Camera
6. Stethoscope for measuring blood pressure, and
7. Rain coat and an umbrella
8. Measuring device for pregnancy risk factors
9. Small photo printer
10. Television, scanner (optional)
( Initially a WIL has to invest BDT 70,000 – 80,000 on her own)

Banglalink –        one of the major mobile
phone operators in Bangladesh launched
with the technological support of
Agriculture Information Service (AIS), a
new service „Banglalink Jigyasa (Queries)
7676‟ which provides suggestions and
answers to any queries related to
agriculture, vegetables and fruit farming,
poultry, livestock, fisheries etc.
The service gives people with easy access to
advice and solutions to agriculture-related
problems. To avail the service a Banglalink
customer needs to dial 7676, talk and get
expert‟s advice on the problem. The
promotional charge for the service is Tk 2 per
minute. This call centre has recently become
quite popular with over 5000 callers per day.
There are also other effective utilization of mobile
phones in Bangladesh, such as Rural Information
Centre (RIC) administered by D-Net, Telemedicine,
paying electricity, gas and water bills in the bank,
transferring money, students‟ submission of
admission documents to universities by sending

Through RIC farmers‟ get opportunities for solving
practical problems, e.g. diagnosis, control pests,
diseases of crops, animals and fishes. Through
video conferencing doctors diagnose problems and
then send SMS or advise through mobiles for
     The Mobile Phone subscribers in Bangladesh up
                   to September 2010

*The above subscribers' numbers are declared by the mobile operators
                             100   96
                                             Bar graph showing cellphone contact by the farmers (N=113)

   Farmers in percent (%)




                                        51     50

                                                      41     41
                                                                               32           31   30
                                                                                                           24        23
                                                                                                                                                   12        11

                                   A    B     C      D       E      F         G         H        I         J        K         L         M         N         O     P

                                                                  Nanure of cellphone use

                            Source: Mukta, Karim and Kashem, 2010


A = Contact with relatives, friends and others                      J = Contact with land owner or tenant farmer
B = Contact with Businessman for market information                 K = Contact with educational institutions
C = Contact with sub-Assistant Agriculture Officer                  L = Contact with NGO workers
D = Contact with fertilizer dealer                                  M = Contact with social welfare organization
E = Contact with word member of union council                       N = Contact with Assistant Agricultural Extension Officer or Agricultural Extension Officer
F = Contact with insecticide dealer                                 O = Contact with Additional Agriculture Officer or Upazila Agriculture Officer
G = Contact with progressive farmers                                P = Contact with agro-processing industries
H = Contact for transportation of agricultural produce
I = Contact with seed dealer

The study was conducted in Sadar Upazila (Sub-
district and the lowest administrative unit of the
local government in Bangladesh) of Mymensingh
district. The mobile phone user farmers of six
villages of boira and two villages of Bhabokhali
union (the lowest functional unit in Bangladesh) of
the Sadar Upazila constituted the population of the
study. The total number of the mobile phone user
farmers in these eight villages was 305.
About twenty five percent of the farmers were
selected as samples following the simple random
sampling method. Thus 76 farmers were selected as
sample for the present study. Data were collected
through pre-tested and pre-designed personal
interview schedule during 12 September to 15
October 2009.
Farmers were asked whether their contacts with the
input dealers were regular, occasional or not at all
(based on the number of times per season) for each
of the dimensions. A weight of 2, 1 and 0 were
assigned for regular, occasional and not at all
responses respectively.
With a view to get a comparative picture on the use of mobile
phone for each of the sixteen dimensions a Mobile Phone Use
Index (MPUI) was computed by using the following formula:

MPUI = Nr × 2 + No × 1 + Nn × 0

Nr = Number of farmers using mobile phone regularly
No = Number of farmers using mobile phone occasionally
Nn = Number of farmers never using mobile phone

Thus, MPUI could vary form 0 to 152 where 0 indicates no use
and 152 indicate regular use of mobile phone. Each dimension
was ranked according to obtained score.
In order to measure the problems faced by the
farmers in communicating with the input dealers
while using mobile phone each respondent was
asked, against      10    pre-identified  problems,
(problems were identified through Focus Group
Discussion – FGD) to indicate the extent of
problems in a 4-point rating scale such as not at all,
low, medium and high with a score of 0, 1, 2, and 3
Rank order for each of the problems was computed by
 developing Problem Facing Index (PFI). The PFI was
 measured by using the following formula:

Problem Facing Index (PFI) = (Ph×3) + (Pm×2) + (Pl×1) +
  Ph = High problem faced by the farmers while using mobile
 Pm = Medium problem faced by the farmers while using
 mobile phone
 Pl = Low problem faced by the farmers while using mobile
 Pn = No problem faced by the farmers while using mobile

Thus, PFI of an item could range from 0 to 228, where 0
 indicated no problem at all and 228 indicated high extent
 problem faced.
                   FINDINGS AND DISCUSSION

  Use of Mobile Phones by the Farmers in Receiving
   Agricultural Information from the Input Dealers
Table 1: Use of mobile phone by the farmers in receiving agricultural information

                                                       Mean           % CV
               Mobile phone using farmers

     Categories (score)        No.          Percent

  Low (up to 10)                11           14.50

  Medium (11-16)                41           53.90

                                                       14.66           27.53
  High (>16)                    24           31.60

  Total                         76          100.00

Among the sixteen dimensions of contact, farmers
had the highest contact with the input dealers
through mobile phone in respect of the availability
of agricultural inputs, such as fertilizers, seeds and
pesticides. Farmers become very anxious to know
the availability of agricultural inputs before starting
any crop growing season and as such their use of
mobile phone with the input dealers topped the
rank. Hence, it would be wise if arrangement can be
made by the concerned agencies for toll free mobile
call, at least up to 2-3 minutes, by the farmers to the
input dealers.
More than half (54 percent) of the mobile phone
user farmers had medium use of mobile phones
while 31 percent had high and only 15 percent had
low use in receiving agricultural information from
the input dealers.
High call rate, difficulty in loading money to mobile
set, and failure to contact other mobile phone users
instantly appeared as the top three problems of
using mobile phone by the farmers. Arranging toll
free call for the farmers in respect of their queries
regarding agricultural inputs may be helpful to
overcome the problem of high call rate.
Arrangement for more and more flexi load shops in
the rural areas may help to reduce the difficulty in
loading money to mobile set while increasing the
network towers may be useful in reducing the
network problem of contacting other mobile phone
users for interpersonal communication for
exchanging views about agricultural inputs.

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