New technologies for disseminating and communicating agriculture knowledge and information (AKI): Challenges for Agricultural Research Institutes (ARI) in Tanzania
This paper explores how a wide range of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) available in Agricultural Research Institutes (ARIs) if used effectively by agriculture researchers can improve agriculture productivity in Tanzania. A structured questionnaire and telephonic interviews were used to collect data from a randomly selected sample of 64 respondents made up of agricultural researchers, agriculture managers and other agricultural stakeholders in the selected institutes. Data were analyzed using statistical tools. The results indicate that ICTs tools are available in ARIs for the day to day research activities. However, utilization of agriculture journals is very limited due to unreliability and poor connectivity of the Internet and frequent power cuts. Results also show that the uses of specialized ICT devices have not taken a great recognition in agriculture activities which is attributed by low investment of ICTs that can be used for teaching and learning modern agriculture productivity techniques in institutes under this study. Among the challenges hindering the use of ICTs in ARIs includes: inadequate computers and the supporting technological infrastructure, lack of electricity needed to operate computers, unreliable Internet connectivity and lack of systematic ICTs investment; low coordination of agriculture stakeholders due to institutional diversity and department fragmentation. This study recommends that the Government of Tanzania (GoT) should formulate and implement ICT for Agriculture (ICT4A) projects based on a researched conceptual framework related to ICT4A use and Information and Communication Management (ICM) in ARIs in Tanzania.