BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Women in Akwa Ibom State have a very important
roles in agriculture, undertaking a wide range of activities relating to food
production, processing and marketing; and beyond farming, they are involved in
land and water management: most often they are collectors of water, firewood
They have access to a store of local knowledge on
the medicinal use of plants; they have been in the forefront of soil
conservation programmes; and it is women who perform most of the household
labour devoted to animals (Commonwealth, 2005).
Women participation in agricultural production
therefore cut across various subsectors: planting, weeding, harvesting,
processing, and marketing as well as tending livestock (Soubh, 2006). This
necessitates their integration into planning, policies, and programmes for
effective and sustainable development of a nation (FAQ, 2003). Hence, the role
of women in agricultural production in the developing nations, including
Nigeria, can never be overemphasized (Damisa and Yohanna, 2007; and Kishor,
Gupta, Yadav, and Singh, 1999).
Although, rural out-migration has constituted one
of the greatest challenges hindering agricultural development in developing
countries, surveys showed that, in general, women in Africa have a strong
desire to participate in their community affairs and contribute to its
development, African Development Fund – ADF, (2003) provided that: there is
government effective and timely support/subsidization to agricultural sector;
employment opportunities in the local area, including part-time jobs; the
possibility of gaining work experience and vocational qualifications; local
facilities for education and training; business services supportive to
Women’s projects and enterprises; public transport
services compatible with working hours; local childcare facilities and social
services for the elderly and the sick; and supportive public and professional
organizations. One of the rationales for improving women participation in
agriculture is that when a woman is educated, her children tend to be better
fed and healthier. As a woman earns income, she is more likely than the man to
spend it on improving the well-being of the family. This scenario can build
women self-esteem and lead to a more participatory role in both public and
family decision making (FAO, 2011).
The full use of productive potential of human
resources (male and female) cannot be realized in developing nations if women
do not have access to adequate resources, productivity enhancing inputs and
services; and policies such as price incentives cannot be fully successful in
stimulating agricultural production if the institutional arrangements prevent
women producers from getting the benefits.
As such, the role of agriculture has been re-appraised
and re-valued on its contribution to industrialization and its importance for
harmonious development, political, and economic. stability with emphasis on
women participation in agricultural activities. As agricultural resources have
become increasingly responsive to market forces and increasingly integrated in
the network of industrial interdependencies mainly shaped by technological
advancement, vertical integration, marketing and consumer preferences (FAO,
2003b). The International Development Community (IDC) has thus recognized
agriculture as engine of growth and poverty reduction in countries where it is
the main occupation of the larger proportion of the people. And as agriculture
sector is becoming more technologically sophisticated, commercially oriented
and globally integrated; the developing countries have to fully utilize their
human resources in order
to take advantage of the global opportunities for
all agricultural producers, including improving women participation in
agriculture (FAO, 2011).
Overseas Development Institute – ODI (2002)
identified some reasons for believing that agriculture is the engine of poverty
reduction: when agriculture prospers, farmers and farm labourers benefit, and
so do those with jobs upstream and downstream from farming; the wider economy
also benefits, from increased spending, likelihood of greater tax revenue, more
investment in infrastructure, and a stronger foreign exchange position. It was
also found that the impact of agricultural growth on poverty reduction is one
and half times the impact of growth in other sectors (ODI, 2002).
The historical evidences prove that agricultural
sector has the potentials to be the industrial and economic springboard from
which a country’s development can take off as its activities are usually
concentrated in the less-developed rural areas where women represent the
highest vulnerable groups with a critical need for (rural) transformation,
redistribution, poverty alleviation and socio-econornic development (Stewart,
2000; Eicher and Witt, 1964; Oluwasanmi, 1966; and Jones and Woolf, 1969).
The Nigerian experience during the first decade of
independence could reasonably be described as an agricultural economy because
agriculture served as the engine of growth of the overall economy (Ogen, 2003).
From the standpoint of occupational distribution and contribution to the GDP,
agriculture was the leading sector. During this period Nigeria was the world’s
second largest producer of cocoa, largest exporter of palm kernel and largest
producer and exporter of palm oil. Nigeria was also a leading exporter of other
major commodities such as cotton, groundnut, rubber and hides and skins
The agricultural sector contributed over 60% of
the GDP in the 1 960s and despite the reliance of Nigerian peasant farmers on
traditional tools and indigenous farming methods, these farmers produced 70% of
Nigeria’s exports and 95% of its food needs (Lawal, 1997). It is on this
background that this work is set to evaluate women in Agriculture and food
sufficiency in Akwa Ibom State.
STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
Women as farmers, workers, and entrepreneurs face
more constraints than men in accessing productive resources, markets and
services a “gender gap” which hinder their effective participation in socio-economic
(including agriculture) and political activities thereby reducing their
contributions to the attainment of broader societal goals (FAO, 2011).
Women have been said to be much involved in
virtually all aspects of the agricultural processes despite their daily
domestic chores such as meal preparation, compound cleaning and child caring.
Greenidge (2000:4) states that, “in most sub-Saharan African countries women
make significant contribution to food production and the processing and
marketing of foodstuffs. However, rural women in Africa still face formidable
obstacles to their potential role as a major economic and social force in the
development of the agricultural sector in their countries”. Most indigenous
agricultural and food processing equipment like hoes, mortar and pestles,
winnowing baskets and grinding stones are labour intensive and strenuous to
utilize. Jaja (1990) observed that the use of modern technology is low
especially among women and that most of the modern labour saving devices like
tractors and dehuskers are designed for men because lots of energy is needed to
operate them. In some cases, the introduction of these labour saving devices,
made men to take over women’s sources of regular income.
Though women have been much involved in virtually
all aspects of the agricultural processes, their potential has remained
underdeveloped. However, women seem to be having a change of role especially in
agricultural production in that they now do the bulk of agricultural work which
was not the case before. Women had some selected crops which they cultivated
like Beans and Guinea Corn, but now women cultivate some male crops which
include Yams, Cocoa Yarn and Cassava. This has made some men to be redundant.
It is obvious therefore that the changing role of women in agriculture has made
most women to be food providers under stringent conditions.
Furthermore, a clear observation of more number of
women engaging themselves in political activities, has hindered their time
schedules and passion for agricultural activities. They attend series of
meetings and political movements for sharing of money and some other dividends.
Hence, There is no more reason to stress and go to the farm, as long as there
is an easier way of achieving their financial needs. There are empirical
evidences that increased equality in access to economic assets has shown a
significant raise in the productivity of female producers. This in turn helps
improve household welfare through better bargaining power. These evidences concluded
that increasing women’s control over economic assets have strong and immediate
effects on the welfare of the next generation and on the level and pace at
which physical and human capital are accumulated. The evidences also
demonstrated that although there are forms of structural discrimination against
women in relation to access to credit networks; women borrowers have lower risk
of default as a result of lower prevalence of corruption and bribes among women
groups leading to higher repayment rates (World Bank 2004).
It’s on this premise that the present study is set
to evaluate women in Agriculture and food sufficiency in Akwa Ibom state.
The above statement of the problem, the following
questions are imperative:
What is the extent of women participation in
agricultural production in Akwa Ibom state?
What are the constraints being faced by Women in
their participation in agriculture in Akwa
To what extent has Akwa Iborn Agricultural
Development Project impacted on women
participation in agriculture since inception?
What other policy options can enhance Akwa Ibom
Agricultural Development Project to
perform its role in mainstrearning women
participation in agriculture in Akwa Ibom state.
OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The main objective of this study is to analyze
women participation in agriculture:
To examine effects of women participation in
agricultural production in Akwa Ibom state.
To examine effects of constraints being faced by
Women in their participation in agriculture in Akwa Ibom state.
To examine the effects of Akwa Ibom Agricultural
Development Project impacted on women participation in agriculture since