Purpose - The purpose of this paper is to understand how Bangladeshi farmers interact with mobile telephony and how they negotiate the resulting difficulties. In doing so, the paper seeks to identify how farmers integrate mobile telephony into their daily lives, and what factors facilitate and limit their use of mobile telephony. Design/methodology/approach - The research was based on ethnographic observation, interviews and focus group discussions, collected through four months of fieldwork, conducted in two remote areas of Bangladesh. Findings - It was found that Bangladeshi farmers’ use of mobile telephony is inhibited due to language barriers, a lack of literacy, unfamiliar English terminologies, inappropriate translation to local language (Bengali) and financial constraints. However, the social, occupational and psychological benefits from mobile telephony motivate them to use and appropriate it through inventive use and adaptation. Research limitations/implications - The findings suggest that current understanding of usability needs to be interwoven with that about the appropriation of technology in order to develop a better understanding of the use and consequent integration of a technology in daily lives. Practical implications - The paper adds to the argument for a bottom-up approach for ICT-enabled intervention in development activities and for the mobile telephony manufacturers and network providers it contributes to understanding of the rural consumer market of a developing country. Originality/value – The paper presents an original conceptual diagram that combines the concept of usability and appropriation.