Extension Agents’ Use and Acceptance of Social Media: The Case of the Department of Agricultural Extension in Bangladesh
Sylhet Agricultural University, Bangladesh
University of Guelph, Ontario, Canada
Annemarie van Paassen
Wageningen University, Netherlands
The University of the West Indies, St. Augustine
Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) have been considered as key driving forces for enabling agricultural development ‒ the sector which provides livelihoods for majority of the population in Bangladesh. The Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE), the largest public sector agricultural extension service provider in Bangladesh, has recently enacted a new organizational policy for its staffs to use ICTs such as social media to provide better services. However, there is little or merely anecdotal evidence about how extension agents of DAE have been accepting and using social media for their professional work. Drawing on the theoretical underpinnings of the Technology Acceptance Model (TAM), this study is a first attempt to investigate social media use and acceptance among extension agents in Bangladesh. Data was collected using semi-structured questionnaires from 140 extension agents of DAE who work in the eastern region of Bangladesh. Both descriptive and inferential statistics were used to analyze the data. The findings indicate that most extension agents (51.4%) used social media for half an hour to one hour every day.Perceived ease of use (PEoU) and Perceived usefulness (PU) are the most influential elements that determine DAE staff acceptance of social media for performing professional functions. Social media was perceived by extension agents as a means for improving professional performance, such as disseminating agricultural information; garnering support for new agricultural policy; networking with clients and colleagues and enabling coordination of services provided by colleagues. Overall, the findings indicate potential uses of social media in an ICT-based agricultural development strategy in Bangladesh.
Keywords: social media, agricultural extension workers, Department of Agricultural Extension, ICTs, communications
Acknoledgements: The Anne van den Ban Fund (ABF) is acknowledged for support to the graduate study of the first author.