Information communication technology (ICT) and livelihood improvement in rural Pakistan : a comparative study of small- and large- holder citrus farming households in the Sargodha District

  • Nadeem Akmal

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    Pakistan’s agricultural sector is facing many problems such as smallholdings, rising production costs, water shortages, lack of innovative agricultural knowledge, weak marketing systems, and the absence of extensive information communication mechanisms. The performance of public institutes in Pakistan, like many other developing countries, is poor. The existing public agricultural extension and marketing infrastructure has failed to communicate the latest information and knowledge to the whole farming community, discriminating in favour of farmers with large holdings. With recent developments and fast adoption of information communication technology (ICT) such as mobile phones, computers, and the internet, in addition to radio and television, it is believed that ICT have the potential to alleviate production and marketing inefficiencies.
    This research project has been designed to examine the role and impact of ICT in bridging quality information and knowledge communication gaps and improving livelihoods without discriminating against farmers with small- or large- holdings. The research takes a pragmatic approach. Data were collected from 200 small and large citrus farmers using purposive random sampling in the Sargodha district of Punjab, Pakistan. Information was gathered on almost all aspects of citrus production and marketing. Information was also collected on livestock management as it is the second key contributor to the agricultural enterprise of citrus farmers. A comparison was made of small- and large holder farmers, with respect to the current modern ICT era including pre-existing communication technologies such as television, radio and fixed-line telephone. Focus group discussions were conducted with other stakeholders of the citrus value chain, such as input dealers, preharvest citrus contractors, commission agents, and exporters. Young people were included in the focus group discussions because it was expected they would be more familiar with ICT.
    Research findings reveal that awareness, adoption, and use of ICT among the farming community is considerable. The level of landholder education is a key determinant, as is citrus acreage, in the level of awareness, adoption, and usage of ICT in agriculture. The adoption of modern ICT has contributed significantly to improving the social capital of the farming community, allowing for farmers to connect more with each other as well as with the stakeholders of input-output markets. Farmers who make greater use of ICT have increased access to formal sources of information. ICT use has a positive impact on the productivity of farmers. Overall, ICT contribute considerably to improving the social, human, and financial livelihood capitals of the citrus farmers. Smallholder farmers are not far behind in reaping the benefits of recent ICT developments although there remains concern regarding their lack of awareness, knowledge of the technology, and the expense of ICT usage, as they are less advantaged in the adoption of other agricultural innovations.
    The research findings suggest government and other relevant stakeholders should devise specific strategies to make the best use of modern as well as conventional ICT. The farmers’ lack of financial capacity and limited education should be key considerations when devising any program for ICT usage which improves information delivery, especially the smallholders.
    Date of Award2021
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorSandra Heaney-Mustafa (Supervisor), Robert Fitzgerald (Supervisor), John Spriggs (Supervisor) & Caroline Lemerle (Supervisor)

    Cite this