Original Research

Evaluating the influence of information and communications technology on food security

Ntabeni J. Jere, Manoj S. Maharaj
SA Journal of Information Management | Vol 19, No 1 | a745 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajim.v19i1.745 | © 2017 Ntabeni J. Jere, Manoj S. Maharaj | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 09 March 2016 | Published: 17 May 2017

About the author(s)

Ntabeni J. Jere, School of Management, IT and Governance, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
Manoj S. Maharaj, School of Management, IT and Governance, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa


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Abstract

Background: This study integrates the diffusion of innovation, technology acceptance model and Hofstede’s cultural dimensions theory to assess the role that information and communications technology (ICT) plays in ensuring food security. A survey of smallholder farmers from the iLembe district municipality of the KwaZulu-Natal Province of South Africa was conducted, and the data were used to test the proposed model.

Objectives: The study evaluates the influence of ICTs in improving food security in KwaZulu-Natal Province. A theoretical framework was developed as the lens through which diffusion and adoption of ICTs can be understood. The theorised model was developed using constructs from the diffusion of innovation (DOI) theory, technology acceptance model (TAM) and Hofstede’s cultural dimensions theory.

Method: Survey data from 517 smallholder farmers from the district municipality of iLembe were collected using a questionnaire. A quantitative approach was followed, and the developed theorised model was analysed using structural equation modelling techniques.

Results: This study proposes that ICT influence on food security is associated with culture, perceived usefulness and perceived ease of use. The study further finds that perceived ease of use of ICTs has the most significant effect with regard to ICT adoption and diffusion amongst smallholder farmers in iLembe district municipality. There are, however, no associations found with perceived attributes of innovation and the nature of social systems. The study consisted of a largely homogeneous social system; therefore, the researcher could not make any comparisons.

Conclusion: The proposed framework for evaluating the influence of ICTs on food security put forward in this study highlights a number of issues. Firstly, there is need for further study to be conducted to understand adoption of ICTs specifically for food security. This would help in creating more accurate adoption strategies. Secondly, the study informs ICT innovation developers on the need to prioritise ease of use of ICT-based interventions when developing innovations that focus on smallholder farmers. The study also contributes to policy guidelines and suggests clear guidelines be developed to address cultural aspects such as gender imbalances.


Keywords

ICT; diffusion of innovation; technology acceptance model; Hofstede’s cultural dimensions; food security

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