A model for the adoption and acceptance of mobile farming platforms (MFPs) by smallholder farmers in Zimbabwe

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Masimba, Fine
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Vaal University of Technology
The agriculture sector is the lifeblood of the economies of the world's least developed countries (LDCs). In Zimbabwe, this sector is considered to be the backbone of Zimbabwe's economy, and as a result, it is the sector that supports the economic growth of the country, food security, and poverty eradication efforts. Furthermore, the use of mobile technology has continued to rise in Zimbabwe, and farmers now can obtain agricultural information through the use of mobile technology. Mobile phones are increasingly being integrated into current agricultural trade businesses, owing to the critical role they serve in facilitating information transmission between farmers and buyers. The potential of mobile phones in agriculture spawned mAgriculture, which is the use of mobile phones to provide agricultural information and services. Variousitechnology companies in iZimbabwe have come up with various mobile farming platforms as innovation, with the aim of improving overall performance among smallholder farmers. In order to find the usefullness of these mobile farming platforms, it imperative to measure the adoption and acceptance of this technology in the farming environment. The study sought to investigate the adoption and acceptance of mobile farming platforms in Zimbabwe through a more comprehensive model based on UTAUT 2 that encapsulates the key factors that influence user adoption and acceptance of mobile farming platforms. The main aim of the study was to inform technology start-up companies and other mobile application developers in the development of mobile farming platforms or applications that can be fully adopted and accepted by users, taking into cognisance all salient factors affecting their adoption and acceptance. The model has been used to investigate smallholder farmers in a developing country such as Zimbabwe. The model explores the effect of attitude as one of the key determinants that affect the behavioral intention to use mobile farming platforms. In addition, the model looked at the moderating effect of Hofstede's five cultural dimensions on the key determinants that influence behavioral intention as well as actual use of mobile farming platforms at individual level. A total of 411 questionnaires were received from smallholder farmers in Zimbabwe's three major provinces who were using mobile farming platforms. Structural Equation Modelling was utilized to test the hypothesized conceptual model. Reliability and validity checks were done to the model instrument. As hypothesized, the findings of this study revealed that performance expectancy (PE), effort expectancy (EE) and facilitating conditions (FC) are significant determinants of the newly added variable Attitude (AT). Attitude (AT), together with social influence (SI), facilitating conditions (FC), hedonic motivation (HM), price value (PV), and habit (HB) were found to be significant determinants of behavioral intention and usage of mobile farming platforms for smallholder farmers. The results also showed that cultural dimensions have a moderating effect on user acceptance of mobile farming platforms. According to the findings, attitude and culture are significant factors to consider when analyzing farmers' behavioral intentions and use of mobile farming platforms. The findings of the study contribute to the literature by validating and supporting the applicability of the extended UTAUT 2 for the adoption and acceptance of mobile farming platforms by smallholder farmers in developing countries. The theoretical contribution of the study was through the extension of UTAUT 2 where attitude was added as one of the new key determinants of behavioral intention and cultural dimensions were added as mediators. The other contribution is to the Zimbabwean farming community where the study was conducted.
D. Tech. (Department of Information and Communication Technology, Faculty of Applied and Computer Sciences), Vaal University of Technology.
Mobile Farming Platforms (MFPs), Agriculture sector Zimbabwe, Smallholder farmers, Technology in farming environment