Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) have been recognized for their potential to address some of the main challenges identified for and by small-scale farmers in the Global South, including access to information. There has been significant private and public investment in ICT and agriculture services that seek to improve service delivery to farmers and reduce perceived information- and knowledge asymmetries. There has been a parallel growth in academic literature which indicates that the impact has been more limited than expected, and there is need for more research to understand the reasons for the limited impact and whether the imagined potentials can, in fact, be realized.
This project is centered around an empirical case study set in Tanzania that specifically focuses on the uses of and usefulness of ICT technologies for improving small-holder farmers’ soil management. With a starting point in Amartya Sen’s (1999) capabilities approach, the project seeks to critically examine the relationship between agricultural ICTs and the local knowledge systems they seek to enter and improve. Building on insights of science and technology studies (STS), the project sees ICTs as active in the construction of users, permitting, suggesting or preventing certain courses of action. The project will thus understand fits and misfits between the presumed and the actual agricultural knowledge systems, as well as the consequences this has for the utility of ICTs for development in Tanzania. Further, by building on intersectional gender perspectives the project will further seek to complement the largely gender-blind literature by exploring if and how intersectional gender relations are manifested within local knowledge systems and the access, use and impact of ICTs.