Effectiveness of using cellphone technology as a dairy management training tool for smallholder dairy farms in kenya

D. N. Makau, J. A. Vanleeuwen, G. K. Gitau, J. Muraya, S. L. McKenna, C. Walton, J. J. Wichtel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

There is increasing need for knowledge on the utility of information and communication technology (ICT) for improved agricultural productivity and enhanced income in smallholder production enterprises. The objective of this study was to determine the effectiveness of using cellphone technology as a training tool on smallholder dairy farms (SDFs) in Kenya. This field trial was carried out between June and September 2017 on 40 farms randomly selected from members of the Naari Dairy Farmers Cooperative Society in Naari sub-location of Meru County, Kenya. An abridged dairy management handbook, developed by Farmers Helping Farmers and the University of Prince Edward Island, was translated into the local dialect, and disseminated as short message text. After pre-intervention knowledge and attitudes assessments on dairy management, farms were randomly allocated into intervention and comparison groups. Using an online short message service interface (because the study population all had cell phones but only 1.7% had smart phones), short messages on management practices were sent daily, for 3 months, to the phones owned by the farmers in the intervention group. Post-intervention assessment of dairy management knowledge and attitudes related to the messages was done 3 weeks post-intervention. Within and between group comparisons and net changes were determined using t-tests, Chi-squared tests where applicable. There were no significant demographic or knowledge differences between the two groups pre-intervention. Compared to pre-intervention, trained farmers in the intervention group were significantly more informed on: mastitis prevention, disease (calf diarrhea) prevention, stall management, the role of a balanced nutritious diet on immunity and the resolution of some health conditions post-intervention. Translation of message content to the local language and using easily understandable terminology were reported to be helpful for better understanding and motivation of farmers to implement recommendations. Cellphone technology with a short message service interface can be an effective training tool for SDFs in remote areas of Kenya located far from where seminars are conducted for dairy farmers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalLivestock Research for Rural Development
Volume30
Issue number11
StatePublished - 2018
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018, Fundacion CIPAV. All rights reserved.

Copyright:
Copyright 2018 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.

Keywords

  • Developing country
  • Economic
  • Education
  • Information communication technology
  • Livelihoods
  • Rural farmers

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