Strategies to Improve the Contribution of Women in the Development of Agricultural Production in Izzi LGA of Ebonyi State
Objectives of the Study
The main objective of this study is to analyze women participation in agriculture:
The role and impact of Ebonyi Agricultural Development Project (EADP); while specific objectives include:
- To examine socio-demographic characteristics of women farmers in Ebonyi State
- To evaluate the extent of Women participation in agricultural production in Ebonyi State
- To identify constraints that women face in their participation in agriculture in Ebonyi State
- To investigate the impact of EADP on women participation in agriculture since its inception
- To proffer other policy options that can enhance the role of EADP in mainstreaming Women participation in agriculture in Ebonyi State.
LIETRATURE REVIEW AND THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK
This section is sub-divided into conceptual framework, theoretical and empirical literature in order to vividly understand the subject under discourse of the study.
Review of Related Literature
Garba (2014) observed that the processes through which men and women participate in activities generate inequalities. These socio – political and economic costs are significant and these inequalities need to be addressed for meaningful transformation of human society. But the role played by Women in agriculture and in rural societies is fundamental to agricultural development in sub-Saharan Africa. The Technical Centre for Agriculture and rural cooperation (CTA, 2013) reported that women in Africa make up more than one-third of the work force.
Edward, Noah, and Charles (2018) in their study of urban women’s participation in the construction industry: an analysis of experience from Zimbabwe through the use of purposive method of data collection from four urban cities, analyzed with desvriptive statistics, aimed at evaluating the impact of urban women’s participation in the construction business on income generation, gender roles and responsibilities, family and societal perceptions in Zimbabwe. Their study found that women’s businesses in construction were profitable and constituted an important source of family income but constrained by limited access to finance, lack of suitable equipment, high cost of inputs, and training in business and marketing skills in addition to women social roles’ burden. The conclusion and recommendations of the study are geared towards the for reorientation of the national credit policy to incorporates specific needs of women in the construction industry and to explore other strategies that reduce gender burden on women.
From Mahabub and Manik (2014), nature and impact of women’s participation in economic activities in rural Bangladesh – insights from household surveys found that women working hours in economic activities were low due to their substantial involvement in non-economic household works as only 6% of the women worked for more than six hours a day in economic activities: livestock rearing and homestead gardening and cottage industries, which are significantly higher than that of men while men have allocated more time to non-agricultural activities in which earnings are higher as a result influence women’s participation in agricultural activities and recommended that the women empowerment and their economic participation in the labor force are extremely depended on their education and outward mobility in an established liberal society.
A study by Smith-Sreen and Smith-Sreen (2019), through interviews conducted with women dairy farmers in Bihar, Nadu and Gujarat in India found dairying as an important development programme for alleviating rural poverty. From their findings, income is viewed by Women as only one of many factors identified in their assessment of the value of owning dairy cattle. Dung provides much needed fertilizer for farmland and income derived from dairying is regular as opposed to seasonal from other agricultural sources. Also, the nutritional status of the family improved from the constant supply of milk, while the sale of calves provide important economic asset in improving women socio-economic status in the society – ability to assist others. The elevated women engaged in encouraging other women to apply for loans to acquire animals to develop self reliance and self confidence so that they could become capital sufficient. The study recommended the need for training women in animal health care, nutrition, and bookkeeping in order to improve their dairy management efficiency.
Illo (2018) in his book titled Women’s Roles and Gender Differences in Development: Cases for Planners in Asia which studies the impact of large scale development projects on women citing the case of Aslong Irrigation Project (AIP) that aimed to increase food production, employment, and the standard of living for the people in the region observed that over 90% of the initial participants were male but when the designation and theme changed to “household”, women’s participation increased substantially. He revealed that during the progress of the project, women were found to be facing double burden of domestic duties with increased agricultural labour which prevented them from participating in the evaluation process due to time constraints.
Agbalajobi (2014) in his study of women’s participation and political process in Nigeria: problems and prospects, using qualitative method with the aim of examining the theoretical perspective of the discrimination and inequality suffered by women thereby limiting their participation in socio-economic and political activities. The study observed that the Nigerian women constitute about half of the population of the country and play vital roles as mother, farmers, producer, time manager, community organizer and social and political activists; and postulated that the society has not given recognition to women’s roles due to cultural stereotype, abuse of religion, traditional practices and patriarchal societal structures and as a result have become the target of violence of diverse forms. The study found Patriarchy, Virility deficiency – women’s conception of politics, Lack of economic incentives (Financial backing), Discriminatory customs and laws, and Lack of affirmative action quota as factors responsible for women’s low participation in issues. As a result, it is concluded that women participation in issues in Nigeria over the years is very low engendering the consciousness of even development. It thus recommended women empowerment programmes and support of international organizations as ways to involve women in activities and to ensure the achievement of sustainable development drive of Nigeria.
Kishor, et al. (2019) in their study of the Role of Rural Women in DecisionMaking Process in Agriculture in Chikum and Igabi Local Government Areas of Kaduna State through the use of double stage random sampling technique with the application of simple descriptive statistics and the ordered probit methods of analyses discovered that the socio-economic characteristics of women farmers significantly affect their decision making in agriculture. The study also discovered three categories of women farmers as primary farmers (involved in the production aspect), secondary farmers (involved in the processing), and tertiary farmers (involved in rendering services: marketing, conveying, etc). They concluded that women farmers are heavily involved in agriculture in Nigeria and the level of their participation in farm management decision making are quite low attributable to their age, education, land tenancy, and the wealth status. Majority of the women interviewed were however found not to be formally educated and are of the low income group. Their study thus recommended policy interventions to enhance women access to basic farm inputs including finance in order to boost their participation in agriculture and its various decision making processes.
While UN report of 2016 stated that four of ten agricultural workers in the world are women; women are responsible for more than half of the world’s food production; and produce about 60 to 80% of basic foodstuff in Africa; Fresco (2018) postulated that African women farmers account for 70% of agricultural work force, 80% of food production (statistics falling within the range of UN estimate of 60% – 80%), over 90% of basic foodstuff processing, and undertake about 60% – 90% of the marketing.
Ogunbameru and Pandey (2019); Mijindadi (2013); Buckland and Haleegoah (2016); Ironkwe and Ekwe (2018); and Yahaya (2012) reported that in Nigeria women are responsible for about 60% – 80% of agricultural food production as well as significant participation in poultry, sheep and goat rearing including pork; and constitute about 60% of farming population.
According to Fabiyi, et al. (2017) in their study of the Role of Women in Agricultural Development and their Constraints: A Case Study of Biliri Local Government Area of Gombe State through the use of simple random sampling technique in selecting six villages from the LGA and 60 women farmers by using Interview scheduled to obtain information from the women on their socio-economic characteristics, farm activities, farm production and their constraints. Descriptive statistics was used to analyze the data collected. The result revealed that the social demographic of women cut across all sphere of human endeavour in which majority (72%) of the respondents were small-scale farmers having 0.1 – 3.0 hectares of farmland for cultivation of food crops. Many of these women acquired land for farming from their husbands and relations (freehold), while others hired land for farming. The respondents sources of income for farming were through cooperative society (33%) and previous farm output (23%) only few (13%) were able to secure Bank loan, while others borrowed money from friends.
It was also found that women were involved in all farm activities from land clearing to harvesting, processing and marketing of produce. They plant different crops, rear animals and keep poultry. The women farmers’ constraints include mainly lack of land for farming, credit facilities, costly and late input delivery. The study concluded that women farmers have contributed immensely, to food production, processing and preservation of foods and recommended that serious attention should be paid to the constraints faced by Women farmers because they are the backbone of agricultural development and food security in Nigeria (Fabiyi, et al., 2017).
This chapter focuses on the method employed to carry out the research study and is divided into six sections. These are sources of data (containing population and sample size), methods of data collection, sampling method, and techniques of data analysis.
Sources of Data and Instrument for Data Collection
Primary source of data was used for the analysis in this study and was collected through structured questionnaire, in-depth interview (IDI) and focus group discussion (FGD). The members of the target group of this study are women farmers in Ebonyi State.
Ebonyi State has four EADP zones and three senatorial districts. Given this background, two of the ADP zones were selected; zone B and zone C. From these selected zones, three (3) Local Government Areas (LGAs) were again selected representing the three senatorial districts of the State. These LGAs are Ankpa from ADP zone B in Ebonyi East Senatorial District, Lokoja from ADP zone C in Ebonyi Central
Senatorial District, and Okene from ADP zone C in Ebonyi West Senatorial District. All the three instruments of data collection – structured questionnaire, in-depth interview, and focus group discussion were administered to sampled women within these areas.
The questionnaire consists of five sections: the bio data of the respondents, women contribution to agricultural production, problems of Women farmers in the state, EADP and Women in Ebonyi State, and Women productivity and sustainable rural development in Ebonyi State. The in-depth interview was with (2) two EADP staffs at the Headquarter in order to enable comparison of views with that of Women farmers. The focus group discussion was conducted in six (6) units consisting of 5 Women and one women leader so as to observe and capture certain information that the questionnaire and in-depth interview may not be able to bring out. These are done within the two selected EADP zones covering the three senatorial districts of the State.
Population and Sample of the Study
The population of the study consists of all female farmers within the two sampled EADP zones in Ebonyi State. From this population, women currently engaged in farming activities were sampled to gather the required information for the analysis of the study. The sample size for the study was purposively selected and as such three hundred (300) women farmers were sampled, 100 women farmers each (purposively) from the three LGAs selected.
FINDINGS ON WOMEN PARTICIPATION IN AGRICULTURE IN KOGI STATE
This chapter presents data analysis through the use of percentages and cross tabulations. It consists of six (6) sub-sections, each capturing a research objective including the first sub-section in which the overall questionnaires administered was analyzed. The percentage analysis was based on the outcome of the Social Science Statistical Package (SPSS) while the in-depth and focus group discussions were transcribed and analyzed alongside the SPSS outcome.
The overall total of the questionnaire administered and retrieved were presented in this sub-section as shown in Table 4.1 below.
SUMMARY, DISCUSSION, CONCLUSION, AND RECOMMENDATIONS
This chapter presents summary of the findings, conclusion, and recommendations. It also includes the discussion made on the findings in accordance with the modern theory as applied in the study.
In evaluating women participation in agriculture: the role and impact of Agricultural Development Project (ADP) in Ebonyi State, Nigeria”, five research objectives were set as guide to the study which include to examine social demographic characteristic of women farmers in Ebonyi State; to evaluate the extent of Women participation in agricultural production in Ebonyi State; to identify constraints that women face in their participation in agriculture in Ebonyi State; to investigate the impact of EADP on women participation in agriculture since its inception; and to proffer other policy options that can enhance the role of EADP in mainstreaming Women participation in agriculture in Ebonyi State.
Given these objectives of the study, modernization theory was used as the theoretical background whose basic assumptions include the world is a stable system of interrelated parts, all societies will develop like Europe, and modernization leads to development. The underpinning postulation of the theory is to help “traditional” societies develop the way “modern” societies do in the past based on the identification of some social variables which contribute to the social progress and development of certain societies in the form of adding impetus to change process required for the development, and “traditional societies” will respond to modern transformation for the development of the society. Quantitative method of data collection through structured questionnaire, indepth interview (IDI), and focus group discussion (FGD) was employed to gather the required information from women farmers in Izzi Local Government Areas of Ebonyi State which in turn was analyzed by the use of descriptive technique of data analysis. Based on the research objectives, modernization theory and Women and Development (WAD) were used as the theoretical basis for the study.
From data analysis, farming undertakings by women in Ebonyi State are mostly done by youths within the ages of 28 – 37years (45%) and adults within the ages of 38 – 47 years (31%). Other age groups of women undertaking farming activities in Ebonyi State are 18 – 27 years (16%) and 48 – 57 years (8%). Majority of women who participated in farming are widowed and divorced (36% each). The married and singles constitute 20% and 8% respectively. On average, women that own two and three farm lands dominated over those that own one and four farm lands.
Among these women farmers, those belonging to family structure other than monogamous engage mostly in farming activities, particularly first and second wives in such family structure while third and fourth wives also engage in agricultural production in the state, majority of the women (80%) engage in personal farming mainly for survival supportive strategy.
Hence, the study found that farming engagement by women in the area is highly influenced by their educational background and the number of children. It is only from Higher National Diploma (HND) or its equivalent in terms of educational qualification of a woman that tends to correlate negatively with her farm holding. Between none educational qualification and National Ordinary Diploma (OND) including National Certificate on Education (NCE), women farm holding is identical. While women with at least four children own more farm land, in terms of size, women with three children or less own few hectares of farm land; although seven children and above are rare for a women which also accounts for their low number in farm size holdings.
Analysis revealed that women participation in agriculture in the study is high. This is due to women involvement in agricultural activities all year round as well as seasonal and vegetable gardens. In the study area, personal farming (80%) with labour intensive techniques (60%) dominates other forms of farming operations: group farming as well as capital and mixed farming systems. However, most of the women farmers do harvest > 1 ton (80%) of farm produce at the end of farming seasons. This high women involvement in agriculture is justified from the study according to its role as supportive mechanism through which poverty, unemployment, and hunger are effectively safeguarded against.
Majority of the sampled women farmers rated EADP offers as best while others rated it as good but few among them rated these offers as poor. This was based on the evidence that these interventions (offers) by EADP have improved sampled women
(94%) status in agriculture in the study area. These women revealed that modality of EADP operations through seeking women opinion, visiting localities, and organizing women programmes have indeed provided them with psychological support, boosted their morale, and also provide them with opportunities in the presence of their male counterpart. Hence, this resulted positively in enhancing their farm output.
Discussion of Findings
It is found from the study that agricultural undertaking is exclusively the work of youth and adult ranging from 18 – 57 years as those above 57 years (old) were not among the sampled women. This is consistent with the findings of Chayal, et al. (2014) that strong correlation exists between women age and their participation in agriculture in India. They found young aged women farmers with physical abilities which enable them to perform more agricultural activities. Contrary to the findings of Chayal, et al. (2014), this study found family structure, number of children, and educational background of the sampled women to have strong influence on women participation in agriculture in the study area. Also, farming among sampled women in this area is taken as supportive mechanism as participation is dominated by both the widow and divorced (36% each).
The study also found that the most farm size of ownership by sampled women farmers in Ebonyi State is 1 – 2 hectares of land (40%). While 3 – 4 hectares and 5 – 6 hectares are equal in ownership proportion (12% each), less than 1 hectare constitutes 24% of ownership with majority using labour intensive farming technique thereby making their output just greater than 1 ton even though many of the respondents are into continuous (all years round) farming while the remaining are equally into vegetable garden and seasonal farming; they. This agreed with the findings of Emmanuel (2018) that farm size and farm techniques significantly influenced women farm produce. In the study area, one of the main problems is poor access to farm machinery as majority of the sampled women rely on commercial for their farm operations. More so, information obtained through focus group discussions (FGD) with women revealed that farming has been termed as ancestral inheritance and it is the easiest occupation that can be indulged with little constraints. It is also found that land for farming is obtained through family inheritance and leasing while capital and farm inputs (seedlings, fertilizer, and chemicals) are secured through Agricultural development Project of the State (EADP), financial institutions, and friends.
One of the reasons inferred from the study to be responsible for small size of farm – land ownership (1 – 2 hectares) by the majority of respondents is farming system employed. Larger proportion engage in labour intensive system with very few practicing capital intensive system while the remaining women farmers adopt mixed farming system. Olayemi (2018) and Aromolaran (2019) found that small sized farms are characterized by low level of operation, low literacy of operators, and a labour-intensive production. Thus, in the present contemporary world where science and technology have become the dictator of the day, about 20% of the respondents still have their farm output less than or equal to 1 ton. In spite of this, about 80% of the women farmers do have farm output greater than 1 ton.
However, the study found a significant evidence of sampled women participation in agriculture in the study area. This is due to fact that all categories of sampled women: youth and adult, widow, divorced, married, and single; all categories of educational qualifications, among others.
From the study, poor access to farm machinery is the highest of the problems encountered by the sampled women. This is followed by non-access to effective market as most of the sampled women output serve their village (local) markets. Capital, fertilizer, improved seedling, and extension services were among the problems being faced by the sampled women farmers in the study area.
The introduction of Ebonyi State Agricultural Development Project (EADP) has improved women participation in the agricultural sub – sector of the state as indicated by majority of the respondents (94%) through opinion seeking, visitation to localities, and organizing women programmes. Based on the efforts made by EADP, its performance in mainstreaming women into agriculture in the state are described as best and good by 175 out of 250 respondents. Although, 70% (175 respondents) of the women described their agricultural income as moderate, 84 of them want their children to specialize in agriculture, 49 are contented in agricultural sector, and 42 wish to remain in the sector no matter the improvement in the general economy. In addition, 10% and 20% believed their income to be high and small respectively. Kindness and Gordon (2013) postulated that the intervention of NGOs and CBOs in agricultural development in developing countries has changed the dimension and opportunities of the less privileged and poor farmers to greater future hope in agriculture.
Hence, the respondents want the EADP to intensify effort in mainstreaming women into agriculture so as to enable them take full advantage of their potentials in making meaningful contributions to rural as well as national development and thus raise their living standard above average. According to them, this will give them more opportunity to assist their husbands, cater for their family, and live an independent life thereby improving their productivity and making them competitive with their men counterpart.
In an evaluation of women participation in agriculture; the role and impact of agricultural development project (ADP) in Ebonyi State, the following conclusion are drawn based on the data analysis and findings from the study:
Agricultural undertakings are found to be the work of youth and adult among the sampled women in the study area. Sampled women aged 18 – 57 years are those found in agriculture and none of those above 58 years of age is identified to be engaging in agricultural undertakings. An agricultural undertaking in the study area is also seen as a supportive mechanism given that widow and the divorced dominate in the participation.
The study found that women participation in agriculture in the study area is significant. This is due to their involvement in the three forms of participation identified in the study: participating all year round, participating seasonally (sometimes), and participating in vegetable garden. The farm produce of majority of women is also found to be greater than 1 ton even though small farm land (1 – 2 hectares) is prevalent among the sampled women.
The major problem facing women farmers in the study area is poor access to farm machinery as majority depend on commercial equipment thereby making them to employ labour intensive technique of farming. The sampled women also identified non-access to efficient market as well as poor prices for their farm produce.
Ebonyi Agricultural Development Project (EADP) is found to have positively impacted on women participation in agriculture in the study area. This is achieved through the effort of EADP in organizing sampled women into farm group and introducing exclusive women agricultural programme: women in agriculture. The EADP also embark on the provision of basic farm input to women in the study area which they have rated as best and good: chemical/fertilizer, extension services, and improved seedling while capital and farm machinery programmes are not effective.
Sampled women farmers in the study area are contented in agriculture thereby wishing to remain, want their children to engage in the sector even though the income generated by the majority is moderate. They thus encourage EADP to intensify its effort in mainstreaming women in agriculture in the study area.
Based on the findings of the study, the following recommendations are imperative:
- The government of Ebonyi State and the EADP should introduce programmes that will encourage the youth and adults to remain in agriculture sector. This programmes should also address the plight of the widow and the divorced who are the majority participants among the sampled women. In this regard, agriculture sector of the state will remain attractive and effective thereby providing the necessary cushion against social vices and generating more employment opportunities as well as ensuring food security of the state.
- The study identified small land size ownership by women farmers in Ebonyi State mostly 1 – 2 hectares. The respondents revealed that most farm lands are obtained mainly through family inheritance. However, such agricultural undertakings discourage mechanization as well as capital intensive system development.
Therefore, the government of Ebonyi State in particular and Federal Government of Nigeria in general should formulate and implement policy on land tenure system that will give women adequate access to farming land so that their farm land could improve to medium (4 – 5 hectares) and even large (at least 7 hectares). In this policy, land allocation for residential and industrial development should be clearly distinguished from agricultural lands.
- Contract and out-growing farming system should be developed in the state as a way of ensuring consistent market and steady agriculture output prices. This will enable women farmers the opportunity to earn high income from their participation in agriculture and help in the fulfillment of their dreams. These systems of farming can also help reduce poor access to farm machinery as the involved agro – allied industries and other participants will make some of the required machinery available to those women farmers that may be involved.
- EADP should redesigned its programmes and projects towards becoming women focus as this will provide them the opportunity to develop and utilize their endowed potentials thereby making competitive and efficient in agriculture and home management as well.
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