Bangladesh calling: Farmers' technology use practices as a driver for development.

Making farmers in developing countries more informed about market opportunities is generally considered an important step toward development of the agricultural sector and increasing individual farmers' income. Mobile phones are a useful technology for delivering such information, but are farmers ready? According to Sen [Development as freedom. In J. Ezer (Ed.), Gandhi's third assassination: Information and communication technology education in India (pp. 201–212)], human capability is the basic driver for development. This paper investigates, by means of a survey (n  =  420) to farmers in rural Bangladesh, what factors affect mobile phone ownership and use and what professional information is asked for. We find that access is very high, to a large extent through community use. Neither education nor income is a determining factor, but “modernity” – being young and/or having children – is. Even the very poor have access. Attitudes are very positive not just to the phones, but also to using them for professional information services. Hence, human capacity for development is there, as is technology. What is still lacking is the useful services adapted to the rural usage patterns and social context.

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