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Accurate and easy to use Farm Management Information Systems (FMIS) are of fundamental importance for a successful operational farm management. Unfortunately, most farmers do not use FMISs when it comes to operate their business, despite the increasing professionalism in the agricultural sector and its increasing usage of IT technologies.
The skillful and conceived management is one of the most important success factors for today’s farms (Mishra et al., 1999; Muhammad et al., 2004). Only when a farm is well managed, it can generate the funds to finance its sustainable development and thereby its survival in today’s fast changing environment. However, a sophisticated management is a challenging and time-consuming task, and has to be organized as efficiently as possible (Doye et al., 2000). Reasons that explain the importance of a sophisticated farm management are certainly diverse, however, three major factors have been identified in the ongoing academic discourse:
i. A complex environment;
ii. Complex farm structures;
iii. The introduction of modern technologies to the agricultural sector (Glauben et al., 2006)..
The environment the farms are involved in has become more and more complex over the past decades. Until the late 1980s it was enough to supply a society with cheap and sufficient food products. Today however, much more is expected from the agricultural sector, in particular when it comes to environmental concerns . Overall the agricultural business has shifted from a simple production sector to a multifunctional service sector. The expectations incorporate compliance with regulations to be entitled for EU subsidies, new and Lastly, the introduction of modern technology contributed to the challenge of sophisticated farm management. In this context modern technology incorporates in particular the usage of PCs coupled with the application of the corresponding software of the financial statements of farms, planning tasks for land cultivation husbandry etc. Additionally, many farmer introduced GPS added tractors and “smart” machinery, GIS-supported landscape modeling and other state of the art technology, making special knowledge indispensable . All these technologies can be combined under the expression “Wired Farm” or “Precision Farming” (Sigrimis et al., 1999)..
A major outcome of the three developments described is the generation of large data volumes. To handle and to benefit from theses enormous data volumes farmers have to be capable of performing the following tasks:
a. Collection of Data;
b. Processing of Data;
c. Providing Data;
d. Using Data.
To deal with these four tasks farmers have to introduce an integrated Information System (IS) - sometimes also called DSS (decision support systems). Integrated in this context means that the IS has to be the connecting part between the farm’s ERP (enterprise resource planning system) and the FMIS (management information system), . Only when an IS fulfils, both the data handling and the integration requirements it can satisfy its overall goal, namely to make the available data usable (McCown, 2002; Bryant, 1999; Khulman, Brodersen, 2001), to contribute to a better decision-making process, and finally to a better management of the farm. At the end farm management is always about analyzing data and making choices in order to allocate the scarce resources of the farm in the best way (Malcom, 2004b, Parker, 2003).
1.1 Theoretical Background
Accurate and easy to use Farm Management Information Systems (FMIS) are of fundamental importance for a successful operational farm management. However, still today many farmers do not use FMISs for various reasons, like lack of knowledge and the complexity of many available FMISs. Productivity gains in the agricultural industries have historically been driven by the adoption of new technical products and processes. It has been the realm of extension to make sure that farmers hear about these processes and technologies, and usually it has been State governments who have funded the extension effort. With the rapid increase in the complexity of the technology of farming, there is now a recognized need to improve the skills and education of our farmers – the human capital of agriculture. The Internet is changing the way society accesses and processes information. Farmers now have access to a wide range of information about many aspects of their farming systems, but it is often thought by scientists and extension specialists that many lack the skills necessary to use that information to improve their farm profitability and sustainability through technical innovation. We live in what is being called the "information age", an era in which it is the knowledge and skills of the workforce that will determine our fate in a globally competitive marketplace. Knowledge and skills go hand-in-hand with informed management, and it is in better management that increased productivity will be found .
1.2 Statement of the Problem
The following are the problems identified in the management of farm information:
a. Manual method of documenting farm information concerning different plants.
b. It is difficult to retrieve farming information of plants.
c. Lack of database applications for farm information management.
1.3 Aim and Objectives of the Study
The aim of the research work is to develop an information system for farm management with the following objectives:
a. To design a database application to capture and store farming information of different plants.
b. To design a system that can be used to find farming information.
1.4 Significance of the Study
The significance of the study is that it will provide the case study with an automated system that can be used to store and retrieve farming information for different plants. It will help the users to implement their farming practices effectively by making use of the database of farming information provided by the system. The study will also serve as a useful academic material for other scholars that need information on the subject.
1.5 Scope of the Study
This study covers Design and Implementation of an information system for Farm management using ministry of agriculture as a case study. It is limited to the registration of farming information for easy retrieval when needed.
1.6 Organization of the Research
This research work is divided into five chapters. Chapter one is concerned with the introduction of the research study and it presents the preliminaries, theoretical background, statement of the problem, aim and objectives of the study, significance of the study, scope of the study, organization of the research and definition of terms.
Chapter two focuses on the literature review, the contributions of other scholars on the subject matter is discussed.
Chapter three is concerned with the system analysis and design. It presents the research methodology used in the development of the system, it analyzes the present system to identify the problems and provides information on the advantages and disadvantages of the proposed system. The system design is also presented in this chapter.
Chapter four presents the system implementation and documentation, the choice of programming language, analysis of modules, choice of programming language and system requirements for implementation.
Chapter five focuses on the summary, constraints of the study, conclusion and recommendations are provided in this chapter based on the study carried out.
1.7 Definition of Terms
Farm: A place where agricultural and similar activities take place, especially the growing of crops or the raising of livestock.
Farming: The business or act of cultivating land, or raising livestock.
Agro-ICT: The use of Information and communication technology to carry out agricultural activities.
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