Agriculture has always been part and parcel of people in rural communities. As far as South Africa is concerned it is estimated that about one third of the people in rural communities have access to land for farming practices. Unfortunately land available for farming is not used optimally despite efforts from governmental authorities and developing agencies to introduce farming practices which could enhance the development of rural agriculture. Simultaneously information exists which could be applied to help small-scale farmers to improve farming practices. However, the transfer of information to rural communities without considering the information usage behaviour of target groups proved to be ineffective. This study is essentially an investigation to establish how information from the developed world can contribute to improve rural agriculture which in turn can contribute to the upliftment of people in rural communities. To address the problem eight objectives were set. That is, to determine the value of information in rural agriculture, determine how information is communicated in rural communities, determine the information usage behaviour of small-scale farmers, explore the existing information systems which could support access to information, identify factors which could influence the transfer process at grassroots level, identify mechanisms which could enhance the effective transfer of required information and develop a model which can serve as a guideline for the development of an effective transfer strategy. In order to obtain background information of the circumstances under which information is to be transferred an extensive literature study has been carried out regarding, development in rural communities, including the impact of the oral tradition still prevailing in rural communities, the existing state of rural agriculture in South Africa, the value of information as a resource, the information transfer process as it manifests in rural communities, including information systems atthe disposal of target groups in rural areas, transfer techniques and mechanisms appropriate, as well as factors impacting the transfer process. The Phokoane Case provided a real-life situation where the practical application of information transfer to small-scale farmers could be investigated in depth. The outcome of this investigation proved that information as a resource is imperative for the development of rural agriculture. Although not tangible, it acts as a dynamic force which can empower recipients to take informed decisions. The transfer of information to small-scale farmers (and rural people in general) differs markedly from transfer practices in the developed world. Due to an unawareness of what information entails and a lack of background to modern farming practices, there will be no demand for information. Therefore, a deliberate transfer effort is required. Information from the information resource system of the developed world can best be transferred when transfer techniques and mechanisms from the indigenous information system are applied. The service of a facilitator who is knowledgeable of both worlds and who knows how to coordinate and manage information, is imperative. A model has been developed which can serve as a guideline for the design of effective information transfer strategies to be used in development programmes.
Thesis (D Phil (Information Science))--University of Pretoria, 2006.