Academic journal article Library Philosophy and Practice

Assessing the Information Needs and Information Sources of Urban and Peri-Urban Livestock Keepers in Kinondoni and Morogoro Urban Districts, Tanzania

Academic journal article Library Philosophy and Practice

Assessing the Information Needs and Information Sources of Urban and Peri-Urban Livestock Keepers in Kinondoni and Morogoro Urban Districts, Tanzania

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

An urban livestock system is characterized by a large variation of livestock systems that occur in and around densely populated areas and that strongly interact with the surrounding wealthy as well as poor human communities in different ways, at several levels of system-hierarchy and with nearby and distant rural areas (FAO, 2007). In nearly all developing countries, urban livestock keeping is becoming increasingly important, as urban demand for animal products rises. The demand for information on livestock production is also growing, both in the sense of demands expressed by the producers themselves, and in the more general sense of a growing potential for increasing production through the delivery of information (Morton and Matthewman, 1996). An effective and profitable livestock production cannot be achieved if information is neither available nor accessible to the livestock keepers. Information is very important because it will enable the livestock keepers to domesticate their animals in the most profitable way. This is emphasized by Brodnig and Mayer-Schönberger (2000) who reports that accurate and reliable information is a key element for sustainable development.

Livestock keepers need information on livestock diseases, nutrition, treatment and control of diseases, breeding techniques and markets for their products, among many other information needs. These information needs may be grouped into five headings: agricultural inputs; extension education; agricultural technology; agricultural credit; and marketing (Ozowa, 1995). A study by Kalusopa (2005) revealed that livestock keepers have several information needs. Information needs of livestock keepers can be grouped into dairy management, poultry management and technology depending on the type of livestock that they keep. Dairy farmers need information related to milk processing, housing and environment, building materials and equipment, feeds and feeding, food preservation, feed additives and dairy products. Most livestock keepers needed information on disease control. The survey also revealed that, poultry farmers needed information on poultry management, poultry equipment and accessories, hatching equipment, feed equipment, feed storage, feed manufacturing machinery, product handling/transport equipment, quality testing equipment and energy saving equipment. Livestock keepers in urban areas need information on how to prevent environmental pollution by their animals, in addition to other information needs. All this information has to be made available, accessed and used by the livestock keepers in order to increase productivity and hence improve their livelihoods.

In most developing countries, farmers largely depend on agricultural extension services as their main sources of information. These services are usually offered freely by the government through extension officers. Kalusopa (2005) opines that, the government extension services provide relevant information for farming activities and most farmers still rely on indigenous farming methods due to lack of reliable information delivery systems. According to Matovelo (2008), the role of extension officers is to reach out to farmers through extension services such as; visits to individual farmers, demonstration/on-farm trials, agricultural exhibitions, radio and television programs and printed materials carrying agricultural messages. Sanusi et al (2010) also states that, the important task of extension is the exchange and sharing of information knowledge and skills.

Over the years agricultural extension services in Africa have either collapsed or failed to operate altogether. Where they operate, they have not effectively and efficiently addressed the problems of smallscale farmers (Munyua, 2008). According to Matovelo (2008) extension services have their own shortcomings in that they tend to be package oriented in solving farmers' problems. These approaches tend to assume that farmers are homogeneous in terms of their needs, priorities, abilities and attitudes towards farming activities. …

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