Use of Electronic Media as Agricultural Information Sources Influenced by Farmers’ Demographic Characteristics: A Present and Future Milieu

 Ghazanfar Ali Khan, Sher Muhammad, Khalid Mahmood Chaudhary
Institute of Agri. Extension and Rural Development, Univ. of Agri., Faisalabad

Abstract
This research paper reflects the relationship between farmers’ demographic characteristics and the use of electronic media (specifically) as agri. information sources by farmers in the present and future context. To get deep insight in this particular sphere, the study was conducted in Faisalabad district of the Punjab, Pakistan. The information was probed out with the help of interview schedule from 330 randomly selected respondents. The results of the study disclose that various demographic characteristics such as age, education, size of landholding and farming experience manifest varying impact upon use of electronic media particularly in cases of radio, TV, and mobile phone as agri. information sources in both present and prospective context. Moreover, in the future scenario, all the given demographic characteristics depicted the most noticeable association (highly significant) with mobile phone. From the research findings, it seems that the importance of farmers’ demographic characteristics should be under consideration while making policies pertaining to media as agri. information sources.

Key words: agricultural information, demographic characteristics, electronic media              
 INTRODUCTION
Media possess the potential to pave the way towards a progressive change (Nosheen et al., 2010). In agricultural sector, the use of electronic media is very crucial to keep the farming community updated well ahead of time so that they may be able to produce more (Zia and Khan, 2012).  However, it is fact that farming community is diversified with reference to demographic characteristics. Within one sphere (farming community) the use of various electronic media for getting agri. information may differ with the perspective of farmers’ demographic characteristics. Research studies (Fawole, 2006; Chaudry et al., 2008; Saddi et al. 2008; and Jensen et al., 2009) reflected that the demographic characteristics had impact upon other factors like use of media.
The information pertinent to demographic characteristics (like age, education, landholding and farming experience) of farmers not only manifest a  portray of rural life but can also be used to find out their association with other dependent variables (like use of electronic media for getting agri. information.
Recipient behavioral changes in connection with young and old age may reflect different scenario (Okwu et al., 2007). Moreover, education has an association with the acquisition of information from media (Ekanem et al., 2006). Size of landholding may have impact upon farmers’ decisions about getting the knowledge related to agri. technology (Chaudary, 2006). With the increase in farming experience, possibly a farmer may rely more upon his own knowledge steadily and may not take into consideration the other media for getting information (Jensen et al., 2009).
In Pakistan, the gist of electronic media has materialized with a boom.  Electronic media have provided the farmers with the opportunities to acquire and share latest information. The availability of a variety of agri. information through electronic media has paved the way towards quick information dissemination among the farmers. The impact and influence of revolutionary transitions seem substantial. However, the use of electronic media in connection with agricultural information among the farming community may reflect various facets with respect to demographic characteristics of farmers.  The objective and purpose of the study also included to probe out the relationship between demographic characteristics and use of electronic media (specifically) for getting agricultural information.

MATERIALS AND METHODS
Keeping in view the feasibility in terms of time and money, Faisalabad district (mix cropping zone) was selected purposively. In the study district (Faisalabad), multistage random sampling technique was used. A pretested validated interview schedule was the data collection instrument for 330 randomly selected respondents (farmers).  Experts were consulted for checking the face and content validity. For reliability of the research instrument (interview schedule), it was pretested on 40 farmers (other than sample).  Cronbach’s  Alpha  was  calculated  by using Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) software. The overall value was 0.891. The interview schedule was developed in English language, however, for the convenience of the respondents (farmers), they were interviewed in Punjabi language for the acquisition of credible and accurate data. The demographic information was collected in quantitative form. The collected data were analyzed through  SPSS. For assessing the relationship between the independent and dependent variables Kendall's tau_b correlation was used. The demographic characteristics (like age, education, size of landholding and farming experience) were regarded as independent variables. The dependent variables were considered in two broader spectrums in the context of present use of the electronic media for obtaining agri. information and future preferences related to the use for the acquisition of agri. Information.






RESULTS AND DISCUSSION

Relationship between the demographic characteristics and use of electronic media for obtaining agri. information

Demographic characteristics
In the study, age refers to the years from birth to the time of data collection. Another demographic characteristic was also considered important for probing i.e. education (formal years of schooling). The collected data were arranged into three categories i.e. small, medium and large.  Farming experience was considered as the number of years passed in farming profession. The data were collected regarding the demographic characteristics of the respondents which are presented in Table 1.
Table 1: Distribution of respondents according to demographic characteristics

Age (Years)

No.%
Young (up to35)11635.15
Middle (>35-50)12437.58
Old (above 50)9027.27

Education (Years)

  
Illiterate (0)13340.30
Up to primary (1-5)5115.45
Primary-middle (6-8)6720.30
Middle-matriculation (9-10)5215.76
Above matriculation (11-16)278.18

Landholding (Acres)

  
Small (up to 12.5)26881.21
Medium (> 12.5-25)5215.76
Large (above 25)10 3.03

Farming experience (Years)

  
Up to 1513641.21
>15-3011534.85
Above 307923.94
(N=330)
The information reflected in Table 1 indicates the involvement of various age group in farming profession because there was a representation of the three age categories with a little variation in percentage. The data given in Table 1 further show that a relatively prominent figure pertinent to literacy (59.70%) with various levels of education. However, a notable number (40.30%) was illiterate. The data presented in Table 1 also reflect that a major chunk (81.21%) was small farmers depicting small landholding as prominent characteristics of farming community. Table 1 also illustrate that most (41.2%) of the respondents had the farming experience up to 15 years followed by about one third (34.85%) of the respondents having the experience of 15-30 years. Nearly one fourth (23.94%) of the respondents had the experience of above 30 years.

Relationship between the demographic characteristics and present use/future preferences of electronic   media for obtaining agri. information

In Punjab (Pakistan), electronic media are horizons for agricultural information in various forms. Agricultural information is provided though different radio station in the form of agricultural broadcasts (agricultural programmes, agricultural advertisements and short messages etc.) Likewise, TV as electronic medium is also providing agricultural information via various channels (agricultural programmes, agricultural advertisements and short messages etc.). On mobile phone, “Kisan service” by various companies are available for agricultural information. Toll free agricultural helpline are also facilitate for the acquisition of agricultural related issues. Telephone  can be used for  getting agricultural related information.
For getting real comparative and comprehensive picture, farmers’ demographic relationships were probed of out not only in the context of present use of electronic media but also with the future preferences by the farmers for the electronic media.  The data pertinent to these aspects are depicted in Tables 2 and 3.

Table 2:          Correlation between demographic characteristics and present use of                             electronic media for obtaining agri. information
Present use of electronic mediaAgeEducation
LandholdingFarming Experience
Radio .240(*)-.084-.243(*).328(**)
TV-.216(**).019.048-.210(**)
Telephone.224.334.349.000
Agri. helpline -.047.088.225.273
Mobile phone.184.272(**).122.214(*)
**  Correlation is significant at the 0.01 level (2-tailed).
*  Correlation is significant at the 0.05 level (2-tailed).

Table 3:          Correlation between demographic characteristics and future                                          preferences of electronic media for obtaining agricultural information

Future preferences of electronic media
AgeEducation
LandholdingFarming Experience
Radio .199(*)-.116-.263(**).268(**)
TV-.156(*).039-.094-.139(*)
Telephone.150.125.123-.025
Agri. helpline .062-.036.130.019
Mobile phone.245(**).461(**).191(**).257(**)
**  Correlation is significant at the 0.01 level (2-tailed).
*  Correlation is significant at the 0.05 level (2-tailed).
The data presented in Table 2 and 3 reflect that in case of radio, there appeared a highly significant positive correlation with farming experience in both the present and future scenario. With age it showed positive significant relationship in both present and prospective context. However, regarding landholding, a highly significant negative relationship was on the scene in future context and significant negative in present scenario. With education there was not significant relationship.
Regarding TV, highly significant negative relationship and significant relationship was found with age in present and future context respectively. Likewise, in case of farming experience, it appeared highly significant negative in present context and significant negative in future context. There was no significant relationship with respect to education and landholding both in present and future scenario.
More interestingly, in case of mobile phone, there appeared highly significant positive correlation with respect to education both in present and future spheres. Farming experience showed highly significant positive in future context and significant positive relation in present context. Another highly significant positive appeared in case of age in future context. Likewise, highly significant positive appeared in case of landholding in future context.
In cases of correlation of telephone and agricultural helpline, there appeared no statistically significant relationship with demographic characteristics with present and prospective scenario.
It may be inferred from the results that radio possessed a worth in the realm of old age and experienced farmers for getting agricultural information. Another relationship which is worth mentioned in the context of land holding which showed that farmers with more land holding were not so much inclined towards use of radio. The trend may be due to cheap in nature for less land holding or affordability of dear and costly media for relatively large landholding. On the other hand, TV may be considered more popular among young and less experienced farmers. The reason may be the youth trend towards relatively modern medium for getting information. In present scenario, education showed its association with mobile use which indicates that the farmers with more education were more inclined towards using mobile phone for getting agricultural information. Moreover, there also appeared that experience also paved the way for using mobile phone. In the future prospects, the scenario seems more conducive in terms age, education, landholding and experience which reflects an intention of increasing use of this medium as tool for getting agricultural information.


CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

 It may be inferred from the findings there was involvement of all age groups in farming profession. Moreover, the prominent category of literate was primary- middle. Small farmers were the major category in the context of landholding. Farming experience was conspicuous in the category of up to 15 years. Moreover, the existence of relationship emerged between the farmers’ demographic characteristics and use of electronic media (like radio, TV, mobile phone) as agricultural information sources in present and future context. On account of importance of farmers’ demographic characteristics, it is recommended that these should be taken into account while developing policies pertinent to electronic media for agricultural development. Moreover, further research is also recommended in various other areas to get more clear and comprehensive picture.


REFERENCES
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*The research paper is a part of corresponding author’s PhD thesis work.

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