Role of Information and Communication Technology and Socio-Economic Factors on Marketing of Tomatoes among Smallholder Farmers in Kirinyaga County, Kenya
Tomato is produced and consumed worldwide. In Kenya, tomato is used to generate income among rural people. Despite this, the sub-sector faces numerous challenges such as fluctuating market prices, postharvest losses and inadequate marketing information. In spite of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) use in marketing of tomatoes among smallholder farmers in Kenya, there is scanty information on the information and communication technology usage in marketing of tomatoes among smallholder farmers in Kirinyaga County. The study was carried out in Kirinyaga County considering its five sub- counties. Data collection was done from a sample size of 384 households which were selected using a combination of purposive sampling, two-stage stratified and probability proportionate to size techniques. Primary data were collected using a semi-structured interview schedule. Descriptive statistics was used to analyze the extent of use of selected ICT tools in the marketing of tomatoes, the effect of use of selected ICT tools on the choice of tomato marketing channels was analyzed using multinomial regression model. The effect of use of selected information and communication technology tools on market access of tomatoes was analyzed using analysis of variance and the effect of selected socioeconomic factors on the choice of ICT tools used in marketing of tomatoes was analyzed using multinomial probit model. Based on the effect of use of ICT on choice of the marketing channels and market access in marketing of tomatoes among smallholder farmers, tomato farmers in Kirinyaga County access market information through mobile phone, radio and television respectively. The most market accessed through the use of ICT is municipal market, followed by local market and lastly city market. The most marketing channel used is Farmer-Middlemen-Consumer followed by Farmer-Broker-Consumer and last is Farmer-Direct market-Consumer. Some socioeconomic factors such as age, educational level, market distance, knowledge on ICT, willingness to pay, tomato prices, farmers’ income, tomato production affect the choice of ICT tools used in marketing of tomatoes. This study provides relevant organizational bodies and policy makers with required information that will aid in improving the tomato marketing sector through promotion of information and communication technology use in marketing of tomatoes.