Mobile Phones and Rural Livelihoods: Diffusion, Uses, and Perceived Impacts Among Farmers in Rural Uganda

Brandie Lee Martin, Eric Abbott

Abstract


To successfully use mobile phones to aid development efforts, understanding the impact of the social structure on mobile phone adoption, uses, perceived impacts, and reinvention of uses is invaluable. Interviews were conducted with 90 mobile phone-owning holders of small- to medium-sized farms—50 women and 40 men—actively involved in agricultural development-based farm groups in Kamuli District, Uganda. Respondents indicated use of the mobile phone for coordinating access to agricultural inputs, market information, to monitor financial transactions, and to consult with agricultural experts. Over time, the number and variety of agricultural uses increased among all users, indicating that adoption occurs for a few key purposes, but that uses will be added or reinvented to fit changing needs. This study identified a number of unique uses, including storing local market trends in the calendar, using the speakerphone function for group consultation with agricultural experts, and taking photos of agricultural demonstrations.

Keywords


Agriculture, diffusion, ICTs, ICTD, mobile telephony, rural development, Uganda

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