Information technology use by small farmers in Tennessee

James G Wairimu, Tennessee State University


The goal of this study is to assess the use of Information Technology by small farmers in Tennessee. The objectives of this research is to study small farmers in Tennessee and understand their; current computer knowledge; establish the current trend in I.T. use; and to identify factors that influence I.T. use in their farm operations. The literature shows Information Technology (I.T.) use by small farmers is an area which has not been widely researched, especially in the U.S. Most studies concerning I.T. use in farming involve large scale operations. The use of information technology in various industries has been known to yield positive outcomes such as; increased efficiency in business processes, increased production, lower operation costs, and increased revenue. Almost every business entity today has some of its tasks carried out with the help of computers, tablets, or smart phones. All these are tools used in the field of information technology. Data for this study was collected using an online survey. The survey was sent by county extension agents to 70 farmers using their email addresses. Twenty farmers responded. Another survey was conducted using face to face method. Twenty two farmers completed the survey. This makes a total of 42 completed responses. According to the survey responses, all farmers interviewed had computer and internet access. Eighty percent of them used computers in their farm operations, with 45% of them operating websites. Farmers very frequently used I.T. for operations such as; Information sourcing (47.5%), record keeping (31.7%), Advertisement (25%), Sales (24.4%), Purchase of inputs (29.3%), Email correspondence (53.7%). It was also found that (53.7%) farmers agreed that I.T. is very important for their farm business with 52% adding that they were willing to expand their use of I.T. in their farm operations. As far as I.T. skills are concerned 51% of the farmers considered their skills to be average, while 34% were below average. 15% had confident that their skills were above average. The most used mode of I.T. training was formal classes (25%) and Self-instructional packages (25%). However, most farmers (29%) preferred formal classes for future I.T. learning. 84% of the farmers agreed that I.T. use in the farms promoted sales growth, while 85% agreed that it leads to increased acquisition of new customers. 57.5% agreed that I.T. use leads to increased profits margins. As far as barriers are concerned, only 10% thought that I.T. use is expensive; 35% stated that there were challenges with poor I.T. infrastructure such as low bandwidth connectivity; 31.8% stated lack of training as a challenge for using I.T.; while 15% did not see any value derived from I.T. use in the farms.

Subject Area

Agriculture|Information Technology|Agricultural economics

Recommended Citation

James G Wairimu, "Information technology use by small farmers in Tennessee" (2016). ETD Collection for Tennessee State University. Paper AAI10242387.