Krell N.T., Giroux S.A., Guido, Z., Hannah, C., Lopus S., Caylor, K.K., and T.P. Evans (2020) Smallholder farmers’ use of mobile phone services in central Kenya, Climate and Development, doi:10.1080/17565529.2020.1748847
Abstract:Information and services delivered through mobile phones, ‘m-services’, have transformative potential to provide rural African farmers with important agro-meteorological information. However, a greater understanding is needed regarding the types of m-services available to farmers, how farmers access that information, and possible factors affecting m-service use. With a study of smallholder farming communities in central Kenya, we examine factors affecting the likelihood of Kenyan farmers’ adoption of m-services specifically related to agriculture and livestock information, buying and selling products, and alerts about agricultural or livestock activities. According to a survey of 577 farming households, 98% of respondents own a mobile phone. Approximately 25% use it to access information about agriculture and livestock, 23% access information about buying and selling products, and 18% receive alerts. Personal smartphone ownership increases the likelihood of m-services use (p < .001), as does membership in farmer organizations (p < .001). We find that age and income are not significantly related to m-service use, and we discuss this result in terms of intersections between smartphone ownership, gender, and education. Consistent with prior qualitative research, our quantitative results further support the need for m-services providers to design for basic or feature phone users for improved dissemination of agro-meteorological information.