Academic journal article Agricultural Economics Review

Factors Affecting PC and Internet Usage by the Rural Population of Cyprus

Academic journal article Agricultural Economics Review

Factors Affecting PC and Internet Usage by the Rural Population of Cyprus

Article excerpt

Abstract

It is widely accepted that the usage of the personal computer and the Internet can improve efficiency in the agricultural sector. Despite the fact that Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) have evolved rapidly, the farmers are lagging behind in the use of ICTs. This study examines the factors that affect the usage of personal computers and the Internet by Cypriot farmers, by analyzing data from 526 farmers, selected by using the stratified random sampling method. Logit models are used to examine the socioeconomic characteristics of Cypriot farmers that may affect the usage or not, of the personal computer and the Internet. The results showed that 60.6% of them use the personal computer and 54.2%o use the Internet. From the analysis of the logit models it was found that the age, the educational level, the income, the type of agricultural activities and the location of the farm, are significant determinants for the personal computer and the Internet usage. Future research is needed to examine the personal computer and Internet applications, their usefulness and the possible benefits for the Cypriot farmers from their usage.

Keywords: ICT, PC and Internet usage, logit analysis, Cypriot farmers.

1. Introduction

The use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) and especially of the Internet, can improve communication, increase participation, and help the dissemination and the exchange of skills and knowledge. ICTs create new services and business practices across many sectors of the economy. Transportation, professional services, and broadcasting are some examples of sectors that have been transformed by ICTs (Ramirez 2001).

Within the discourse of "Information Society", "Knowledge Society", "Information Economy" and the like, it is maintained that information and knowledge play a key role in ensuring sustainable development (Amponsah 1995; Koutsouris 2010). However, it is generally acknowledged that the rural population still faces problems accessing vital information that could help in making timely and accurate decisions (Anandaraja, Rathakrishnan & Philip 2006). Furthermore, Ferrer et al.{2003), report that in South Africa, as in other countries, the connection of rural areas to the Internet is still a problem, which means that the networking benefits of this technology, have not yet been implemented in the rural economies. Even where the Internet and ICTs are becoming widely accessible in rural areas, still there is a significant digital divide between rural and urban areas (Hall et al. 2003).

Personal computer (PC) and the Internet are considered to be of the most important technologies, and therefore this paper is focusing on them. Although the adoption of the PC is currently a requirement for using Internet, the two technologies are very different. Usually, the PC is used for the processing, manipulation and management of a farm's internal data and provides information for management decision making purposes. On the other hand, the Internet is used as a communication medium and allows a farmer to acquire and analyze external sources of information. Furthermore, the Internet provides farmers a convenient environment to communicate and make business transactions with buyers, consumers, suppliers, experts, and other farmers (Gloy & Akridge 2000; Ferrer, Schroder & Ortmann 2003).

Uncertainties brought about by global events and the evolution and complexity of the technology, greatly influence the agricultural sector. As a result, the need of farmers to access information, is also increasing (Amponsah 1995). Nowadays a growing number of farmers adopt and use the PC for farm managerial applications, as well as for market research and for obtaining marketing services. In the Computer Era the cost of obtaining, producing and delivering information has decreased, while the quantity and speed of information flow has increased. (Hall et al. 2003). …

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