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Access and use of agricultural information and knowledge in Tanzania

Edda Tandi Lwoga (Directorate of Library Services, Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania)
Christine Stilwell (Information Studies Programme, School of Sociology and Social Studies, University of KwaZulu‐Natal, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa)
Patrick Ngulube (Department of Information Science, University of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa)

Library Review

ISSN: 0024-2535

Article publication date: 24 May 2011



The purpose of this study is to assess access to and use of agricultural knowledge and information in the rural areas of Tanzania.


Mixed quantitative, qualitative and participatory methods were deployed. Semi‐structured interviews were used to collect qualitative and quantitative data from 181 farmers in six districts of Tanzania. Focus groups and participatory techniques (i.e. information mapping and linkage diagrams) were also used to collect qualitative data from 128 farmers in the same districts.


The results showed that deep, rich and complete data can be collected through the mixed quantitative, qualitative and participatory techniques. The findings demonstrated that the knowledge and information needs, and information‐seeking patterns of farmers were location specific. The major sources of information for farmers were predominantly local (neighbours, friends and family), followed by public extension services. Apart from radio and cell phones, advanced technologies (i.e. internet and e‐mail) and printed materials were used at a low rate despite their existence in the communities.

Research limitations/implications

The study necessitates a need to conduct regular studies on information needs, map communities' knowledge and information sources, create awareness of information sources and knowledge culture, use participatory methods in design and development of technologies and use multiple sources of knowledge and information (such as print and technologies) to deliver relevant information to farmers.


The study provides a deep understanding of access to and use of agricultural knowledge and information in the rural areas, which necessitates a need for demand‐led and client‐based knowledge and information services in order to meet the disparate farmers' needs. These findings can serve as an example for the increasing use of mixed quantitative, qualitative and participatory methods in information behavior research.



Tandi Lwoga, E., Stilwell, C. and Ngulube, P. (2011), "Access and use of agricultural information and knowledge in Tanzania", Library Review, Vol. 60 No. 5, pp. 383-395.



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