Business Empowerment Using ICT Commerce Essay

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This study investigates factors affecting poultry farmers in Fufore Local Government area of Adamawa State, Nigeria. It also discusses ways through which these farmers can be empowered through the use of ICT. In this research, mixed research methods were adopted in obtaining the data that was used; this includes the quantitative and qualitative research methods. The study discovered that a general support to build up the poultry production is necessary in the area of ICT and business to empower their businesses. This is necessary for extensive improvements in the contribution of the project to domestic production and economic well being of poor farmers. Also this research demonstrates that the implication of high degree ICT may have extremely excellent effects on empowering business to the Rural Farmers and also increase their economic development, by providing the poultry farmers with well access to ICT, to enhance their business to greater and better general and global markets.

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Introduction

Poultry farming is one of the major forms of Agriculture practiced in Nigeria and many other countries in the world. It provides employment with high income to many both in the rural and urban places. For example, the United States, "The average net income of poultry farmers can vary from $13,900 per year to $20,000 or more per year." (Poultry Farmer Job Description, 2010). Apart from this, poultry farming also contributes to the gross domestic product GDP of many countries. Based on the research we conducted, we found out that poultry generates about 27% of the livestock share contribution to Nigerian's gross domestic product (GDP). "Poultry Eggs and meat contribution of the livestock share of the GDP increased from 26% to 27% in 1999" (Ojo, 2003). Based on this statistics and the neglect of poultry farming by the Nigerian's Government especially in the rural areas, we intend to show the rural poultry farmers how they can empower their poultry business by using ICT and some of the recent technological devices.

In this paper, we will be focusing our research on a rural part of Adamawa State know as Fufore Local Government Area. Fufore is a small town (a local government) located in the southern part of Adamawa State. The town is mostly dominated by the Fulani tribe of Adamawa state. Majority of them are into cattle rearing and poultry farming while a few of them are into farming. The main aim of this research is to introduce ICT to these rural people and show them ways they can use it to improve their business.

Fufore poultry famers

The poultry famers of this region (Fufore) are practicing the kind of poultry farming know as the backyard poultry farming. In this kind of backyard poultry farming, they rear their poultry chicken in the backyard space of their house instead of putting them in a chicken coop. "A chicken coop is a structure where live chickens are kept either on a chicken homestead or, in our case, a backyard chicken farm" (My Back Yard Chicken farm 2007).

The kind of poultry farming practiced by these people has so many disadvantages, because in our opinion, the most important aspect of poultry farming is the housing. This is because poultry chickens are fragile and they easily get infected by diseases, harsh weather e.t.c which ends up killing many of the chickens if not wipe up the entire poultry. To avoid this, it is expected that the chickens are kept in an isolated place that is clean and well protected. "A chicken house is not only designed as a place for keeping chickens or shelter for your hens to lay their chicken eggs, but for protection as well. Protecting your chickens from cold drafts or other sorts of poor weather should be your #1 concern when building your first chicken coop." (My Back Yard Chicken farm 2007).

Methodology

Mixed research method is used in this research, both quantitative and qualitative. Hence using survey data was collected from poultry farmers where some also practiced aquaculture residing in rural areas of Adamawa state, Nigeria.

The population consists of rural dwellers and most of its inhabitants depend on subsistence poultry farming, crop production, and animal herding. The word "rural" is intended to mean places with low level of services (e.g transport, water, and medical services), non-urban settlements (such as Fufore villages) and a very high incidence of poverty.

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Geographically, the Fufore areas utilize both raining rainy season and dry season utilizing the river bank of Benue. It is purely a domestic food producing community. Interviews with some elders in the community show all tribes have their own pattern of traditional industries. The make use of natural and local materials to make products of economic importance out of their community. There are lots of tribes such as Bata, Verre, Laka and Pere and the largest the Fulani tribes all largely professing the Islamic faith. Some of their local industries include, stools, mortals, pestles, hoe handles, axe handles, axe, hoe etc (Ayaga: 2009).

Using structured questionnaire to interview the respondents who are poultry farmers. Both qualitative and quantitative data was collected. In situation the respondents were unable to understand English, the native language namely Fulani was used as medium of communication.

The 10 completed questionnaires from respondents formed the basis of data analysis and interpretations for survey research. This present finding on "Which poultry farming resources are used by rural poultry farmers? Which ICT resources are used by rural poultry farmers and why? How do ICTs enhance rural poultry farmers and quality of life? What problems those poultry farmers experience when accessing and using ICTs.

Profile of Respondents

Respondents were between the ages of 20 - 40 yrs. The respondents were asked questions that sought to determine personal information with regard to their field of occupation, education. These were questions common to the rural environment.

Table of ICTs used by rural people {n=10} to access educational, business/trade, health, poultry farming.

Table Shows Use and availability of ICTs in the rural areas of Fufore district

ICTs

Education of poultry farming

Business of Poultry farm

Health of poultry

Radio

77%

88%

65%

Television

38%

21%

19%

Films

15%

13%

7%

Cell-phone

5%

8%

2%

Telephone

1%

-

-

Video

-

-

-

Computer/internet

1%

-

-

Respondents felt that ICTs were too costly or entirely unavailable. ICTs particularly the radio and TV are what the often see and sometimes use to listen to current affairs and music which highly enrich their lives. In this rural area computer/internet and mobile phone is hardly seen or available in this area. Most likely only the community chief can afford computer/internet or mobile phone.

Major Challenges Faced by Fufore Poultry Farmers

The poultry farmers in this region are faced with a lot of problems ranging from technological to housing. Some of these problems includes: Lack of conducive atmosphere for poultry (coop), Lack of efficient machineries for the poultry, lack of proper maintenance of the poultry, lack of efficient medication for the chickens.

Lack of efficient machineries

Based on our research, we found out that these farmers not only do not use machineries for their poultry, but they don't even know about these machineries not to think of using them. With the aid to ICT, we will be able to introduce these poultry farmers to some of the machineries that will help promote their poultry business. An example of machinery that is used for poultry is the egg incubator. "The egg incubator comprises a transparent chamber and the equipment that regulates its temperature, humidity, and ventilation. For years, the principle uses for the controlled environment provided by egg incubators is used for hatching poultry eggs" (Frank 1991). "The first incubators were used in ancient China and Egypt, where they consisted of fire-heated rooms in which fertilized chicken eggs were placed to hatch, thereby freeing the hens to continue laying eggs. Later, wood stoves and alcohol lamps were used to heat incubators. Today, poultry incubators are large rooms, electrically heated to maintain temperatures between 99.5 and 100 degrees Fahrenheit (37.5 and 37.8 degrees Celsius). Fans are used to circulate the heated air evenly over the eggs, and the room's humidity is set at about 60 percent to minimize the evaporation of water from the eggs. In addition, outside air is pumped into the incubator to maintain a constant oxygen level of 21 percent, which is normal for fresh air. As many as 100,000 eggs may be nurtured in a large commercial incubator at one time, and all are rotated a minimum of 8 times a day throughout the 21-day incubation period" (Frank 1991). With recent technology, there are small egg incubators that fit up to 30 eggs and cost ranging from $49.95 dollars. These incubators are cheap and with the aid of these incubators, the rural fufore poultry famers will be able to hatch the eggs of their chickens. By so doing, they will save a lot of cost buying chicks. An example of this kind of incubator can be seen below.

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Lack of proper housing for poultry

The poultry farmers around here lack proper housing for their chickens. Instead of caging the chickens in an isolated area to prevent them from getting infected by some diseases and also to help insure their safety from animals like cats and dogs, they simply allow them to roam about in the backyard during the day. At night, they lock them up in a room where they spend the night. In order words, the chickens are only allowed to feed in the day time. All this is because they lack a proper housing because, in a well organized and standard poultry farm, they chickens feed day and night with the aid of light at night. This makes them get mature on time and also insure more productivity.

Lack of Medications

Medication is an important aspect of poultry; this is because poultry chickens are fragile and easily gets infected by germs and diseases. Based on our research, we found out that poultry disease is one of the major difficulty those farmers are facing. According to one of them named Musa, "we lack medicines for these chickens and because of this, when one of the chickens is affected the others also follow suit and without proper medication which we lack, it results to the death of many" (Musa, 2010).

Lack of skills for poultry management

The poultry farmers here lack the basic skills of managing and running a poultry farm. The farmers simply concentrate on the eggs that the chickens produce, and nothing else. They depend on those eggs as the major and only source of their poultry income meanwhile; the eggs are just one of the sources of income of a poultry. With the aid of ICT, we will be able to show these people some ways they can make money out of the poultry farm apart from the sales of eggs. Some of these include: slaughtering the old less productive chickens and supplying the meat to an organization like the American University of Nigeria or fast food like Yahaya Restaurant. Using their remains as manure on their farms or selling them to the farmers e.t.c

Proposed Model

Given an increasing digital divide, we need "to ensure that the benefits of new technologies, especially ICT, are available to all". (UN: 2000). To achieve this and empower poultry farmers on the use of ICT, the government should do the following

Establish telecentres (Information Access Centers).

Government should establish telecentres in rural area of Fufore in other to empower the Use of ICT in poultry farming. The use of Telecentres should be free. The description includes the multipurpose community centre whose aim to demonstrate how to "use technology for Poultry farming". The telecenters carry web-sourced information made available through various media such projectors, televisions, radio. Telecentres should have a website that has links to other websites which carry rich content on Poultry farming techniques, pest management, possible poultry business activities and market price information. Village telecenters should be equipped with computers with Internet capability, fax machines, telephones, televisions, VCRs and various printed materials. The village telecenters should also be network-linked with those established in other neighboring rural telecentres; this will facilitate the exchange of experiences, information, and advertisement of community produce. Telecentres should provide services like voice telephony to fax, Internet and videoconferencing services to rural poultry farmers. Telecentres will provide poultry Farmers information services on in the area of health, education and government services) as well as user training. Telecentre requires the involvement of various institutions for the information processing and dissemination activities. Telecentres will also enlighten the rural dwellers of Fufore on information on basic government services such as health care, information for farmers and other essential support services in rural areas which the inhabitants are interested thus increase the use of ICT. Telecentres staffs should be well trained and have the eager and potential to learn in order to help rural poultry farmers who cannot read and write to get the appropriate information they need.

Public call offices/public pay phones

The government should install public pay phones or public call offices in rural area of Fufore. This will improve both connectivity and accessibility in rural Fufore by providing various levels and types of public ICT opportunities in the area. The objective is to provide information about poultry farming, e-commerce, ensure financial sustainability and bringing benefits directly to the local poultry farmers.

Ways in which ICT can empower/enhance poultry farming in fufore areas

Better Access to price information of Poultry products: With the use of ICT poultry farmers can be aware best prices of their products. Poultry Farmers in rural areas such as fufore are often found to be unaware of the value of their Poultry products ( e.g eggs, chickens ) in main markets. They find themselves in a poor negotiating position with regard to middlemen, who routinely under-represent the final selling. The same holds for the price of chickens, feeds and other inputs, which farmers paying an inflated price for inputs. Farmers may also be unaware of strategic opportunities within their own region: which poultry breeds and commodities are fetching higher prices in surrounding towns; which products are in high demand, and so on. Getting accurate and up- to-date price information to farmers, therefore, can have a dramatic impact on their negotiating position in the agricultural economy and on their cash income

Better Access to national and international Markets.

It is important to work towards increasing the level of access of information farmers have to potential markets, to facilitate contact between sellers and buyers, promote agricultural exports, facilitate online trading, and make producers aware of potential market opportunities including consumer and price trends in international markets.

Greater access to poultry and agricultural information:

Local farmers with the use if ICT will be educated concerning better practices in poultry farming, such as access information about poultry health thereby reducing disease of chickens(e.g Newcastle disease). And also to bridge the gap between information needs of farmers and the information provided, which is insufficiently localized and overly scientific in its presentation. With access to poultry farming/ agricultural information will give farmers greater awareness about new adapting techniques on droughts, changing weather, diseases and pests and hence increase their production efficiency.

Conclusion

This empowerment will go a long way in changing the lives of not only Fufore poultry farmers, but it will serve as enlightenment to as many Rural Poultry farmers as possible. If adopted, it will perceive an improvement in their income, social status; get greater sense of confidence in poultry business. ICT will ensure the provision of the following to the rural dwellers: Employment, improved market access, improved negotiation position, change in their levels of income, improved levels of cooperation, improved access to information about efficiency and production methods, improved infrastructure/connectivity in the rural areas and access to price information among others.