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Gonzalez Bujedo, Alvar, 2023. The Social Sustainability of Digital Information Services in Sub-Saharan Africa : a Social Practice Perspective on Smallholder Farmers’ Use of Mobile Phone-Enabled Services for Agricultural Development in Kenya. Second cycle, A2E. Alnarp: SLU, Dept. of Urban and Rural Development



Nowadays, mobile phone-enabled services are reaching the rural poor farmer in Sub-Saharan Africa
(SSA) with digital information for agricultural development. These digital services consist of access
to social networks and customised information that are expected to enhance farm management due
to knowledge exchange and learning. This thesis aimed to analyse the farmers’ use of digital services
and discuss its implications for social sustainability in agriculture by looking at how digital
information merges, coexists or competes with other bodies of local knowledge. The analysis was
based on participant observation with eleven farmers that use iShamba, a digital platform providing
agricultural information services to smallholder farmers in rural Kenya. A social practice
perspective implies that digital information must consider the contextual realities of farmers in terms
of material, competence and meaning. Considering that access to inputs is constrained in the context
of the study, this thesis suggests that digital services could contribute to social sustainability by
promoting biological-based innovations that are locally applicable in terms of the materials available
to farmers. Moreover, digital services could complement their service with field advisory visits or
training courses, where the role of human intermediation appeared to be fundamental. Social
sustainability in agriculture is that associated with the generation of knowledge and meaning that
legitimises a particular model of agricultural development. This thesis found that digital services
increase the diversity of knowledge by offering several options to farmers which contributes to
social sustainability in agriculture. However, digital services do not encourage innovation, directing
research toward attending to the demands of poor rural farmers but rather provide farmers with the
available innovations. Additionally, a key point is the potential of digital services to co-construct
the meaning associated with agricultural development. But since digital information integrates
diverse trajectories of agricultural development, social sustainability requires that the institutional
arrangement promote and support models of sustainable agriculture at the landscape level

Main title:The Social Sustainability of Digital Information Services in Sub-Saharan Africa
Subtitle:a Social Practice Perspective on Smallholder Farmers’ Use of Mobile Phone-Enabled Services for Agricultural Development in Kenya
Authors:Gonzalez Bujedo, Alvar
Supervisor:Fischer, Klara
Examiner:Höckert, Jenny
Volume/Sequential designation:UNSPECIFIED
Year of Publication:2023
Level and depth descriptor:Second cycle, A2E
Student's programme affiliation:LM005 Agroecology - Master's programme 120 HEC
Supervising department:(NL, NJ) > Dept. of Urban and Rural Development
(LTJ, LTV) > Dept. of Urban and Rural Development
Keywords:ICT, Pro-Poor Innovation, Knowledge Processes, Social Practice Theory, Human Capital, Social Capital, Sustainability Transitions, Participant Observation
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Deposited On:10 Jul 2023 08:15
Metadata Last Modified:11 Jul 2023 01:00

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