Date of Award

2011

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Doctor of Information Technology

School

School of Computer and Security Science

Faculty

Computing, Health and Science

First Advisor

Leisa Armstrong

Second Advisor

Judy Clayden

Abstract

The use of information and communication technology tools has been applied in many disciplines, including agricultural sectors. It may be applied in many modules such as data gathering, data processing, information management and information dissemination. One issue that cannot be neglected is the readiness of technology service users, or farmers in this case. It was found that most Thai farmers were poor and illiterate; therefore, offering them the best available tools and services may not be always what they would like to use. To answer the research questions, action research methodology was selected in this study to find a practical way to deliver agricultural information to Thai farmers. Groups of participants from two villages in a northern Thai province were targeted; as a result, case study methodology was also used in this study. Accordingly, a needs analysis using a survey technique, in conjunction with an analysis of the current situation and relevant documents, was conducted in order to find answers about the types of information truly required by Thai farmers. Additionally, questions about how Thai farmers currently received agricultural information, and factors affecting their information requirements, were to be answered. Then, information dissemination through the short message service on mobile phones was found to be the most appropriate alternative for Thai farmers in this study. The free-of-charge experimental service was offered to participating farmers for a period of eight weeks. After that the user satisfaction survey and group interviews were conducted to determine the effectiveness of the system framework. A number of findings and discussion points will be useful for policy makers, relevant government agencies and other researchers who attempt to conduct viable projects in the actual field. This study revealed that income, age and education were significant factors related to the success of the agricultural information dissemination project. Also, relationships between agricultural information extension workers and farmers affected the preferences for, and attitudes to, receiving information among Thai farmers. Subsequently, a new framework was proposed and was obtained comments from agricultural extension workers in order to improve the framework for a wider scale. Finally, the main objective of this research, which was to find out how information and communication technologies can be used to enhance information dissemination to Thai farmers, was achieved. In summary, these outputs are likely to be useful and workable in practice, together with collaborations with third parties such as local councils, mobile phone service providers or academic sectors.

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