Analysis of Gender differences in Smallholder Farmers’ Use of Information Sources to cope with Drought in Masindi District, Uganda
Mayindi, Zirintusa Andrew
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While socio-economic and institutional determinants of use of information sources have been widely studied in various contexts, the gender dimension of information use, and in relation to coping with the adverse effects of climate change has not been dealt with satisfactorily. A study was therefore conducted to: - (i) determine the sources of information used among smallholder farmers to cope with drought; (ii) characterize these sources of information and (iii) identify the socio-economic and institutional factors influencing farmers’ use of information sources to cope with drought. Using mixed methods combining a cross sectional survey and focus group discussions, data was collected from 313 smallholder farmers (167 men and 146 women). Results show that, fellow farmers mainly men were an important source of information for both men and women farmers to cope with drought. Farmers’ organizations were an important source of information among the women, while government extension services were an important source for the men for information to cope with drought. Overall, both men and women farmers perceived fellow farmers who were sources of information to be very good at communicating, convincing others, willing to share information, having appropriate information for both men and women, and bringing information from various sources. Women however had a significantly higher positive disposition compared to men. In regards to fellow farmers’ farming experience, while both men and women perceived them as highly experienced and exemplary, men had a small but significantly higher regard of this compared to the women. Both men and women farmers characterized fellow farmers as providers of information that was useful, timely, affordable, accurate, relevant and problem solving. A significant difference existed around women farmers’ perception of fellow farmers’ information as affordable and relevant more compared to the men. With regard to information obtained from extension agencies, both men and women perceived it as useful, timely, affordable, accurate, relevant and problem solving. However, women’s perceptions of the relevance of this information were significantly and positively higher compared to men. In determining why farmers’ used fellow farmers as sources of information to cope with drought, the significant explanatory factors included; not being a member of a farmers’ group (β = −2.57, p < 0.01), farmers perceiving a fellow farmer as a good communicator (β = 3.049, p < 0.01), as having access to many extension agencies (β = .9912, p < 0.009), as a user of agro technologies (β = ̶1.54, p < 0.01); as not so educated (β= ̶0.861, p < 0.01) and contacting a farmer of the opposite sex (β = ̶1.176, p < 0.01). The factors that explained farmers’ use of extension workers for information to cope with drought included having access to radio (β = 1.214, p < 0.01), to transport (β = 2.668, p < 0.01), membership to a farmer group (β = 2.54, p < 0.01) 989 and having access to mobile phones (β = .665, p < 0.1). In conclusion, both fellow farmers and extension agencies were important sources of information to cope with drought to both men and women farmers. More women need support in maximizing these sources compared to the men. There is need to build the capacity of fellow farmers to guarantee easy access to relevant information especially for women. Extension services need to continually retool their staff to reach men and women farmers more objectively and equitably. Enhancing women’s access to extension services such as owning a radio, a mobile phone and being mobile is key for climate smart farming.