Livestock Research for Rural Development 19 (8) 2007 Guide for preparation of papers LRRD News

Citation of this paper

Information needs of farm women related to dairy farming and home management in Ilam State of Iran

A Rezvanfar, H Moradnezhai and M Vahedi

Department of Agricultural Extension and Education, Faculty of Agricultural Economics and Development, Agriculture and Natural Resources Campus, University of Tehran, Karaj-Iran
arezvan@ut.ac.ir
 

Abstract

Farm women in Ilam State of Iran play an important role in managing different kinds of dairy farming and home affairs. It is proposed that information for women involved in an enterprise is important to understand the production process and the economics of production. About 86 percent of women in rural areas of Ilam are engaged in dairy farming. So, this study investigates the information needs of farm women related to dairy farming and home management in Ilam state of Iran. The study was carried out in the rural communities of Shirvan-chardavol district of the state of Iran. A sample of 125 farm women was selected using cluster sampling technique. The survey research design was used for data collection. Data was also collected through interview schedule. Data were analyzed using quantitative approaches. Quantitative analysis was carried out with the SPSS program.

Results show that the information needs of farm women in study area are mostly occupation driven. Farm women were found to have a need for information about dairy farming but also for home management. Most of the farm women depend on the friends, husband, neighbors and other native sources like local leaders and educated people for their information needs. Their primary and most important sources of information include friends, husband, neighbors and other native sources.

The study recommends that the farm women in Ilam state urgently should be provided with a formal system of information provision like the services of extension personal and agricultural information officers.

Keywords: farm women, dairy farming, information need, information seeking behavior


Introduction

Rural communities in Ilam state of Iran are mainly agricultural communities and dairy farming has been a prominent part of the survival of the people. Farm women in Ilam State of Iran play an important role in managing different kinds of farm and home affairs. Jamshidi (2004) reported, about 86 percent of women in farm families involved in dairy farming related activities in Ilam State.

Farm women take decisions in their day-to-day lives that many affect them. In talking decisions, however, farm women are greatly aided by the amount of information available to them about their felt needs. So that, training and dissemination of information to farm women will be a critical input for the modernizing of farm production and home management in rural areas (World Bank 1992). Keeping the role of farm women in mind, there is a need for training farm women regarding to necessary technologies, so that they can perform those activities with more competences. Meanwhile, a pre-requisite to reach this, is to access information needs and information seeking behavior of the farm women.

The growing number of studies on the farm women and their roles in dairy farming and home management helped us to generating a framework to the study. So, the main objective of this article was to identifying the information needs of farm women in the light of dairy farming and home management.

The following objectives provided for the study:

Materials and methods

Theoretical approach

Information need is construed in the sense of data or a set of data specially required enabling the user to make an appropriate decision on any related problem facing him or her at any particular item (Solomon 2002).

Information is needed because it affects individuals living activities. According to Dervin (1995) information represents an ordered reality about the nature of the world people live in. Research on information needs and information seeking concurs that information is tailored to individual's job and to their tasks within those jobs (Ingwerson 1996 and Zeffane and Gul 1993).

Information in an enterprise is important for the production process, the economy of products, technical quality, production capacity, and the market and market related needs, such as competitive intelligence. Mudukuti and Miller (2002) suggested that in the information age, dissemination of information and applying this information in the process of agricultural production will play a significant role in development of farm families. Similarly Sligo and Jameson (1992) have also stressed that farm women must be given training on latest technological skills and maximize production. Meanwhile, a pre-requisite of reach this, is to assess information needs of farm women. This study is therefore centered on identifying the information needs, and preferred communication sources for seeking information related to dairy farming and home management.

Information seeking behavior is a broad term encompassing the ways individuals articulate their information needs, seek, evaluate, and use the needed information. A cognition or information acquisition depends on needs of individuals involved in special activities such as dairy farming and home management.

Information and communication sources could be classified into two bored types: internal and external. The information-seeking process may require either or both of these sources. In context of rural communities, two important ways of satisfying information needs, are as follows: one, to consider farm women individually as self-sustaining information system, and second, to look at these people as a community and interesting with each other and with systems within their immediate environment (Kempson 1986 and Ikoja-Odongo and Ocholla 2003).

The external environment, for instance, would be include all those individuals, groups, or organizations involved in the same activities in the farming communities, and those other organizations that have or may have the responsibility for, and interest in, keeping them informed. Studies on information sources used by most farmers, especially in developing countries, have described the following variety of sources used her seeking information: colleagues, friends, neighbors, relatives, and family (Kaniki 1994, Rezvanfar and Mandape 2000), professional and modern media (Shilaja and Jayaramiah 1992), personal network and business contacts (Barton and Bear 1999). Knowledge about information needs and information seeking behavior of the women farmers is crucial for effectively meeting their information needs. Understanding about the type of information sources preferred by women farmers could be useful for extension services in developing their collection development policies. This study will investigate the information needs and information seeking behavior of farm women regarding to dairy farming and home management in Ilam State of Iran.

Methodology

Sample population for this study was selected from Shirvan-chardavol district of Ilam province of Iran. The survey research design was used for data collection. One hundred twenty five farm women in five different rural communities of Shirvan-chardavol. A sample of 125 farm women was selected using cluster sampling technique. Data were collected through interview schedule.

The interview schedule constructed for the research was administered to the respondents who constituted the sample in their villages. The researcher had to ask the questions outlined in the interview schedule of each respondent and record the response accordingly, because the respondents were mostly illiterates.

Earlier, in April 2005, a pilot study was conducted in one of the rural area, using 25 people. The aim was to test and improve the instrument. The main study was conducted between June to August 2005. Two people conducted interviews, which one of them was resident of the place, where the study was carried out.

In this study information need has operational zed as the need of information realized by the farm women in dairy farming and home management. According to the purpose of the study the amount of information need was measured with the help of information need index developed by Borich (1980). The respondents were asked to indicate their responses to extent of their need and knowledge on each item on five-point continuum like very high, a little above average, average, a little below average and very low with assigned scores of 5, 4, 3, 2 and 1, respectively.

The following formula was used to calculate the score of information need in each item obtained by each respondent.

IN = (EN - EK) MN

Where:

IN = Information need in each item obtained by each respondent

EN = Extent of need in each item

EK = Extent of knowledge in each item

MN = Mean score of need of all respondents in each item

In respect of study communication sources for seeking information regarding to dairy farming and home management, respondents were given a list of communication sources of gathering information and asked to select these they use often. Data were analyzed using quantitative approaches as discussed later.
 

Findings and discussion

Characteristics of farm women

As evident from the Table 1, the majority of the respondents (60%) are within the age range of 36-45 years, indicating that most of the women farmers are still in their middle age of life. Majority of the respondents (62.4%) are married. Also about one third (40%) of respondents had no formal education at all.


Table 1.   Frequency distribution of respondents as per their demographic characteristics

%

Frequency

Item

S/N

   

Age (in years)

1

7.2

9

Under 25

 

13.6

17

26-35

 

60

75

36-45

 

13.6

17

46-55

 

5.6

7

56 and above

 

 

 

Marital status

2

35.2

44

Single

 

62.4

78

Married

 

2.4

3

Divorced

 

 

 

Educational attainment

3

40

50

No formal education

 

33.6

42

Able to read

 

24

30

Primary school only

 

2.4

3

Secondary school only

 

Information needs of women farmers related to dairy farming

It was clear from the results (Table 2) that farm women wanted to know more about treatment of animals, controlling external parasites, controlling internal parasites and animal breeding were assigned first, second, third and fourth. Nutrition and low cost diet, clean milk production, preparing ration and reproduction occupied the next four positions. Respondents comparatively showed less interest in information on concentrate producing and saving nutritious material.


Table 2.  Relative position of items of information needs related to dairy farming

Bank Score Information Item

S/N

1

5.76

Treatment of animals

1

2

5.63

Controlling external parasites

2

3

5.52

Controlling internal parasites

3

4

5,47

Animal breeding

4

5

5.33

Nutritious and low cost diets

5

6

5.14

Clean milk production

6

7

5.03

Preparing ration

7

8

4.81

Reproduction

8

9

4.73

Marketing of milk

9

10

4.65

Improving sheep production

10

11

4.53

Food and feeding

11

12

4.39

Poisoning stable

12

13

4.01

Concentrate producing

13

14

3.63

Saving nutritious material

14

Information needs of women farmers related to home management

Data in Table 3 showed that items on family planning, home decision and dairy technology were placed at first, second and third positions respectively. The next three items on which the respondents wanted the information were new methods of cooking, food and dairy conservation and preparation of handicrafts.

Respondents were less keen to know about home decoration, saving schemes, mending and repairing of cloths and machine knitting.

It can be concluded that farm women are very keen to know about family planning, home decision and dairy technology. This findings supports the findings of Mudukuti and Miller (2002) and Ikoja-Odongo and Ocholla (2003).


Table 3.   Relative position of information need related to home managements

S/N

Information item

Mean score

Bank

1

Family planning

4.97

1

2

Home decision

4.33

2

3

Dairy technology

4.25

3

4

New methods of cooking

4.11

4

5

Food and dairy conservation

4.09

5

6

Preparation of handicrafts

3.94

6

7

Harmful effects of drags

3.71

7

8

Pickle and jam making

3.26

8

9

Home decoration

3.14

9

10

Saving schemes

3.08

10

11

Mending and repairing of cloths

3.00

11

12

Machine knitting

2.95

12

Preferred communication sources for seeking information

Respondents were given a list of communication sources of gathering information regarding to dairy farming and home management and asked to select those they use often.

Table 4 shows that, 20% (the highest percentage) of respondents rely on friends, husband and neighbors, for acquisition of information.


Table 4.  Distribution of respondents by their preferred communication sources for seeking information

%     

Frequencies

Sources

S/N

20

25

Friends, husband and neighbors

1

9.6

12

Personal experience

2

14.4

18

Opinions of leaders

3

16

20

Educated people

4

16

20

Extension personnel

5

6.4

8

Written materially

6

17.6

22

Radio and television

7

100

125

Total

 

A significant number of others rely on listening to radio and television (17.6%), meeting extension personnel (20 %), meeting educated people (16%), recourse to opinion leaders (14.4%) to seek information in respect of dairy farming and home management. This is not surprise; given that majority of women farmers (73.6%) are illiterate or reading ability only.

The few that read and write are the young ones in various levels of education who use the opportunities provided by the rural libraries and courses established by Ministry of Agriculture. It is interesting to note that, though about 90 percent of families in study areas using radio and television, but because of lack of suitable educational programmers, only 17.6 percent of the respondents showed using radio and television to seek information in respect of dairy farming and home management. The above findings confirm findings of (Kempson 1986, Tucker and Napier 2002) that when rural people are in information seeking using local sources like friends, neighbors and colleagues.


Conclusions and recommendations

References

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Received 17 June 2007; Accepted 19 June 2007; Published 6 August 2007

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