The use of information and communication technology by emerging commercial farmers in their development in the Western Cape, South Africa
Smidt, Hermanus Jacobus
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Although many researchers have shown ICT can enable development it remains a great challenge to understand the link between JCT4D projects and the development of emerging commercial agriculture. There is a need to realise the potential of information and communication technologies (ICT) for emerging commercial farmer development in order to achieve agriculture expansion and transformation in South Africa. This is important in order for them to partake in the knowledge economy visualised in the 2030 National development plan of South Africa and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals in 2030. However in South Africa, it is not yel established which spec(flc ICT are used, how they are used and the extent of deployment ((used in the emerging commercial agricultural sector. Few studies have focused on the faclors that influence the use of !CT in South Ajhcan emerging agriculture. This study investigates and attempts to understand the usage of ICT by emerging commercial farmers and the issues 1hat influence ICT use on the West Coast of the Western Cape Province in South Africa. The study investigates 1he different forms of JCT used, how they are being used, what they are used for, how important these technologies are as enablers of production, and the factors that affect their use. The study involved a survey response of 42 emerging commercial farmers and 46 of their farm employees in the Matzikama and Cederberg municipalities. A literature review draws from studies globally, regionally and in South Africa on how !CTs have penetrated and contributed to delivering development in emerging commercial agriculture. Although most emerging commercial farmers cannot afford to adopt !CT tools that are essential in their farming activities almost all who were interviewed acknowledged the importance of ICT to their businesses. However, among other ICT, mobile phones and television were found to be primarily used for social and entertainment reasons rather than for agricultural pwposes. The general findings showed that occupation on farm and JCT literacy influence the use of ICT by farm employees. On the other hand the gender, capacity of the farmer, off farm income and farm size influences the use of ICT by emerging commercial farmers. Our literature review established some examples ji'om the studies of other researchers and the efforts of multi-lateral institutions such as the FA 0 and ITU to illustrate how we can improve policy. 1 recommend that the South African government develop an e-agriculture strategy to monitor development and validation of good practices on the use of ICTs in agriculture and rural development. This strategy will examine emerging trends on the role of JCTs and the challenges faced in reaching scaled, sustainable informCIIion service models. This can increase the sustainability of emerging commercial agriculture to contribute to the improvement of the lives of the poor in rural areas. Finally I present research questions for future research.