Mobile phones and rural livelihoods: An exploration of mobile phone diffusion, uses, and perceived impacts of uses among small- to medium-size farm holders in Kamuli District, Uganda

Martin, Brandie
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This study examined the diffusion, use, and perceived impacts of agricultural-based mobile phone uses among small- to medium-size farm holders in Kamuli District, Uganda. Interviews were conducted with 110 farmers - 56 men and 54 women. Respondents were chosen according to farm group (n=90) or non-farm group (n=20) membership status. Results showed more than half of the farmers were using mobile phones to coordinate access to agricultural inputs, obtain market information, and to monitor agriculture emergency situations and financial transactions. Slightly less than half were consulting with experts via mobile phones. Members of farm groups were more likely to use mobile phones for agricultural-based purposes, especially consulting with experts. Women were less likely than men to access market information through the mobile phone. Overall, men tended to adopt mobile phones earlier than women and were more likely to have a unique mobile phone use. Unique uses included taking photos of agricultural demonstrations, using the loudspeaker function for group consultation, recording group members pledging repayment of loans, and storing data such as market trends in the mobile phone calendar. The current "snapshot" of the situation does indeed find that being part of a farm group and being male is associated with mobile phone use.

agriculture development, diffusion, ICTD, mobile phones