Availability, Access and Utilization of Information Communication Technologies Among Staff of Women in Agriculture Sub-programme of Agricultural Development Programmes in North Central Zone of Nigeria
Objectives of the Study
The purpose of the study was to investigate the availability, access and use of ICTs among staff of WIA sub-component of ADPs in the North Central Zone of Nigeria. Specific, the study sought to:
- identify the ICTs available to WIA staff;
- identify the various ICT facilities that WIA staff had access to;
- determine the level of ICT utilization among WIA sub-component in the ADPs;
- ascertain the WIA activities in which ICTs were used; and
- ascertain the perceived constraints to the use of various ICT tools among staff of WIA sub- component of the ADPs
Literature was reviewed under the following headings:
- Women and Agricultural
- Information Communication Technologies (ICTs) and their
- The importance of ICT in Agricultural
- Application of ICTs in Agricultural Ventures.
- Women’s Access to ICT Tools.
- Constraints to ICT Utilization
- Conceptual Framework
Women and Agricultural Development
Over the last several decades, considerable effort has been made throughout the world to provide women farmers with efficient, effective, and appropriate technology, training, and information. The positive effects are beginning to show in agricultural production statistics and in indices of family welfare. Yet these successes still fall far short of what is needed at a time when public sector investments in agricultural research and extension are under pressure, when ever-greater demands are being placed on rural women in the face of rapid social transformation, and, in an increasing number of areas, when evidence of environmental degradation is mounting. It is now widely demonstrated that rural women, as well as men, throughout the world are engaged in a range of productive activities essential to household welfare, agricultural productivity, and economic growth. Yet women’s substantial contribution continues to be systematically marginalized and undervalued in conventional agricultural and economic analyses and policies, while men’s contribution remains the central, often the sole, focus of attention (Jiggins, Samanta and Olawoye, 2000).
Agricultural extension services still do not attach much importance to reaching women farmers or women on the farm. Policy makers and administrators typically still assume (in the face of the empirical data) that men are the farmers and women play only “supportive role” as farmers’ wives (Samanta, 1994). It is typical of ministries to assume that home economics services can substitute for agricultural training and information for women. Home economics and agriculture are both important, but they are not substitutes.
According to Obayelu and Ogunlade (2006), as cited by Olatokun (2007), findings from UNIFEM (2000) have revealed that in the formal sector in Nigeria, women constitute 30 per cent of professional posts, 17 per cent of administrative/managerial positions, 30 per cent of clerical positions; and 17 per cent are employed in other categories. They are disproportionately concentrated in low-paid jobs, particularly in agriculture and the informal sector. The Federal Office of Statistics has noted that 48 per cent of women are engaged in agricultural work, and 38 per cent are involved in petty trading at markets, although it is a common knowledge that most rural women conduct both roles. Women and young girls in Nigeria are burdened with an unfair workload inside and outside the home. Data suggest that 33 per cent of women work five or more days per week for very long hours to supplement the family income. In rural areas, aside from their reproductive and housekeeping roles, women fetch water and gather firewood, in addition to conducting much of the agricultural work in the fields such as planting, hoeing and weeding, harvesting, transporting and storage of crops.
The Imo state WIA programme for instance was set-up under the Imo State Agricultural Development Project (ISADP) in1991 (Odurukwe, Matthew-Njoku and Ejiogu-Okereke, 2006). This programme was established to mobilize women in gender specific activities, which include post-harvest activities like processing, utilization, storage and marketing of agricultural products. The major activities of WIA still remain to form women groups and assist them establish group- farms. It is through these groups that the WIA extension agent transfers recommended technology to the women for adoption. However, the WIA programme places much emphasis on off-farm activities of the women and has concentrated in the transfer of the following home economic technologies:
The study was conducted in North Central Nigeria; one of the six geo- political zones in Nigeria. The zone comprises six states (Benue, Kogi, Kwara, Nassarawa, Niger and Plateau) as well as the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja. Ecologically, North Central zone is situated in the Guinea savanna region of the country (National Bureau of Statistics, NBS, 2005).According to Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) (2006); the zone has a population of about 20,266,257 inhabitants. Diverse ethnic groups are found in the zone, major among which include Tiv, Nupe, Idoma, Gwari, Igala, Ibira, Berom, Alago, Eggon and Pyem. As is observed across the country generally, the dominant occupation of the inhabitants of this zone is farming and the farming systems include crop rotation, shifting cultivation, mono cropping, mixed cropping, nomadic herding by migrant herdsmen, as well as traditional raising of livestock (http://www.ombudsman.state.ny.us/Documents/Manual/Oct04-Revised5-5-05/Module5.pdf).
The state ADPs pilot most of the agricultural activities in each of the respective states. Each ADP has an executive committee called Agricultural Development Programme Executive Committee (ADPEC) chaired by the Executive Governor of the State. Other members include the Commissioners for Agriculture, finance and Commerce; and Secretary to the State Government among others. At the ADP management level, the Programme Management Unit (PMU) which includes all the sub-programme heads is headed by the Managing Director (or Programme Manager) who is responsible for the day-to-day management of the programme (http://www.Official Web site of Kogi State Government of Nigeria.htm).
RESULTS AND DISCUSSION
The findings of the study are presented under the following headings:
- Socio-economic characteristics of the
- Available ICT tools to WIA staff
- The ICT tools that WIA staff had access
- Utilization of ICT
- Activities of WIA staff in which ICTs were
- Perceived constraints to the use of ICTs by the respondents.
SUMMARY, CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATION
Summary of findings
The overall purpose of the study was to investigate the availability, access and use of ICT among WIA sub-component of ADPs in the North- central zone of Nigeria. Specifically, the study identified the ICTs available to WIA staff; identified the various ICT facilities that the WIA staff had access to; determined the level of ICT utilization among WIA sub-component of the ADPs; ascertained the WIA activities in which ICTs were used and ascertained the perceived constraints in the use of the various ICT tools among staff of WIA in the ADPs.
The study was conducted in North central Nigeria made up of Benue, Kogi, Kwara, Nasarawa, Niger and Plateau states as well as the Federal capital territory (FCT), Abuja. Four states, namely: Benue, Kogi, Nasarawa and FCT were randomly selected for the study. A total of 80 respondents constituted the sample size for the study. Data were collected from the respondents via interview schedule. Frequency counts, percentages, mean scores and factor analysis were used in data analysis.
Results of the study showed that a greater proportion (52.5%) of the women were within the age bracket of 40-49 years and their mean age was 47 years. Almost all (92.5%) of them were married women. Majority of them had either HND/BSc. as their highest academic qualification. The average number of years spent to acquire education was 18.05 years. As regards the area of academic qualification, majority (62.5%) of the respondents were home economists. The average years of working experience was 21 years. Also their mean years of working with WIA was 14 years. The respondents received an average of N 49, 688.72 per month and had an average of 7 persons per household.
All (100.0%) the respondents were aware of radio, video machine, television and telephones and majority of them were also aware of all the other ICTs. However, for such ICTs as digital camera, face book, skype and GIS, they had low level of awareness. Most of the ICT tools were not available in the offices of most of the respondents. Many of them however had personal radios, video machines, televisions, telephones and calculators. Generally, many of the respondents had access to radio, video machine, television, telephone, computer and calculator but most of the other modern ICTs were not accessible to them. Very few (23.8%) accessed the internet for browsing purpose mainly. Those who accessed the internet did not access them very regularly.
Majority of the respondents could operate the radio, video machine, television and telephone to a great extent but majority could not operate the rest of the modern ICTs well.
A good proportion of the WIA staff mainly used radio, television and telephone for WIA activities such as root and tuber processing, fruit and vegetable processing, food fortification, HIV and AIDS awareness campaign, women group formation and organizing meeting with women groups. Also, of the ICT tools, radio, television and telephones were considered very important to the WIA staff in their official activities.
The constraints perceived to be very serious to the respondents in their use of ICTs were lack of training opportunities (M=2.25), lack of technical know-how (M=2.05) and insufficient availability of ICT facilities (M=2.06).
On the basis of the major findings of this study the following conclusions were drawn:
- Majority (47.25%) of the respondents were still within active years and could access and use available ICT
- There was some level of awareness of all the ICTs referred to in this study among the WIA staff though it is only radio, video machine, television and telephone that all of them were aware of. ICT tools like fax machine, GIS, face book, skype and digital camera were strange to a significant proportion of the
- The WIA offices generally had insufficient availability of ICT
- Majority of the respondents personally owned radio, video machine, television and telephone.
- Most of the respondents had access to radio, television, video machine, telephone, calculator and computer though with highly limited access to other modern ICTs such as printer, scanner, fax machine, e-mail, GIS, photocopier and the internet.
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