1.1 BACKGROUND OF STUDY
Agriculture is one of the most important sectors of the Nigerian Economy. This is because it contributes more than 30% of the total annual GDP, it employs about 70% of the labour force, accounts for over 70% of the non- oil exports and, perphaps most importantly, provides over 80% of the food needs of the country (Adegboye,2004). Nigeria’s diverse climate make it possible to produce virtually all agricultural products that can be grown in the tropical and semi tropical areas of the world. Agriculture plays an important role through the impact of overall economic growth, households’ income generation and food security. It is the main source of income for rural households in developing countries and also the main occupation of women ( chayal et al, 2010).
Cassava was introduced into central Africa from south America in the 16th century by the early portuguese Explorers (Ohadike, 2007). It was probably the incapacitated slaves who introduced the cassava crop into southern Nigeria as they returned to the country from south America. Cassava however, did not gain importance in the country until the end of the nineteenth century when processing techniques were introduced to many slaves returned home (Odoemenem and Otanwa, 2011). In Nigeria, cassava is grown in all the ecological zones; the crop is planted all year round depending on the availability of moisture ( Odoemenem and Otanwa, 2011).
Cassava is an important staple food in several tropical African countries, especially in Nigeria where it plays a principal role in the food economy (Agwu and Anyaeche, 2009). Cassava has the ability to grow on marginal lands, especially in drought – prone conditions and in low- fertility acid soils, where cereals and other crops do not thrive (Gobeze et al., 2005) as cited in Obayelu et al., 2013). Cassava roots can also be stored in the ground (while still intact on the growing plant) for up to 24 months or more, so harvest may be delayed until market, processing or other conditions are favourable ( International Institute for Tropical Agriculture, 2009). This comparative advantage over other staple serves to encourage its cultivation especially by resource-poor farmers. According to the Food and Agricultural Organization Statistics (FAOSTAT, 2011), Nigeria is the world’s largest producers of cassava with about 37 million metric tonnes and it ranks second after yam in extent of production among the root and tuber crops of economic value in Nigeria.
Cassava is a very versatile crop with numerous uses and by- products. Each component of the plant can be valuable to its cultivator. The leaves may be consumed as a vegetable, or cooked as a soup ingredient or dried and fed to livestock as a protein feed supplement. This stem is used for plant propagation and grafting. The roots are typically processed for human and industrial consumption. Cassava is traditionally consumed by processing the fresh roots into garri, fufu, and flour (Adebayo et al., 2003). Data from the collaborative study of Cassava in Africa (COSCA) show that 80% of Nigerians in rural areas eat a cassava meal at least once weekly ( Nweke et al., 2002).
Worldwide, 72 percent of all employed women and 90 percent of all rural women work in agriculture. Women farmers grow more than half of all the food in developing countries and up to 80 percent in parts of Africa; generally in the form of small scale crops for household consumption (Muttone-smith, 2010). Women participation in agriculture covers all facets – production, processing, storage, marketing and also ensuring health and nutrition of the farm family.
In Nigeria, women are involved in all the processes of food production. In the rural areas, women farmers are found in various women groups. These groups assist members to increase their farm output and farm income. According to Ajani and Mgbenka, (2013) women groups in the rural areas are engage in exchange of labour production, processing and marketing of farm produce. women contributed most of the labour in planting maize, cassava, cowpea, melon and rice. Apart from land preparation women contributes more than 80% of the labour for planting, weeding, harvesting and participation in activities that enhance cassava production in the study area.
Women play a central role in cassava production, harvesting, processing and marketing, contributing about 58 percent of the total agricultural labour in the southwest, 67 percent in the southeast and 58 percent in the central zones (FAO, 2004, Onyemauwa,2012). Women also play dominant role in marketing of cassava produce Adebayo, (2009). It is on the basis of the above background that this study seeks to assess the group agricultural activities among cassava women farmers in kabba local government area of kogi state.
1.2 PROBLEM STATEMENT
The greatest challenge to the agricultural sector is to increase food production and the value of agricultural products. The position of women in meeting the challenges in agricultural development cannot be overemphasized. Women make a significant contribution to food production and to the processing of food stuff in terms of labour contribution (Rahman et al, 2004). Yet women have been facing various socio-economic obstacles ( such as difficulties in gaining access to resources as land, credit, productivity – enhancing inputs and other services) Which affect their productivity in agricultural sector compared to men who have more access to productive resources (Rahman, 2009).
Rahman et al, (2004) reported that women carry the major responsiblity for both farm production and domestic works which negatively affect their labour productivity in farm production. The absence of qualitative and quantitative data on gender -labour productivity has contributed to the inadequate recognition of women’s effort and insensitivity to their needs in the farming communities (Rahman, 2006). This absence of data has prevented women from realizing their full potential in agriculture. The recognition and promotion of women’s role in agriculture requires examining the productivity of their labour on farms in order to clarify further on the benefits of women participation in agroculture.
Nigeria is basically an agarian country, with about 65% of the population earning their living from agriculture. The level of adoption of technology in Nigeria’s agriculture is relatively low because technologies developed through research and development. Activities are not reaching the cassava women peasant farmers. This situation calls for a virile extension system that will link the farmers with the researchers effectively. However, the regular contact required for achieving this is highly impaired by the very low extension Agents (EA) to farm families’ratio all over the states across the country. The logistic difficulty confronting extension Agents to reach and maintain regular contacts with farm families is what the use of groups for agricultural extension service delivery in Nigeria seeks to overcome.
The old age practice for extension – farmer contact on one-on-one basis, though very effective is expensive and unsustainable means of reaching cassava women farmers with agricultural technology. New methods emphasize the passing on of agricultural technology to farmers in an organized group (Farmers groups). A farmer group is a collection of farmers interracting with one another toward achieving a common goal. Usually, the interraction between the members of the group is more than those outside the group. Membership of a group varies and it is advantageous to have a small number of people in a group. A group size of between 20 and 30 is ideal and manageable in order to provide a face -to -face interaction, better communication and free flow of information.
The following research Questions are necessary;
What are the socio-economic characteristics of cassava women farmers in the study area?.
What is the various cassava products produced by the women farmers?.
What are the group agricultural activities performed by cassava women farmers in the study area?.
What are the effects of socio-economic characteristics on their participation in group activities?.
What are the constraints/challenges faced by cassava women farmers in their agricultural activities?.
1.3 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The broad objectives of the study is to assess group agricultural activities among cassava women farmers in kabba local government area of kogi state. The specific objectives are to;
Describe the socio-economic characteristics of cassava women in the study area.
Identify various cassava products produced by the women farmers in the area.
Identify group agricultural activities performed by cassava women in the study area.
Determine the effect of socio-economic characteristics on their participation in group activities.
Identify the challenges faced by cassava women farmers in their group agricultural activities.
1.4 SIGNIFICANCE OF STUDY
Assessment of group agricultural activities among cassava women farmers has been highlighted as the focus of this study . It is hope that the results of this study will be of great help to cassava women farmers, Agricultural extension workers and in fact to the nation as a whole. This study will enable cassava women farmers to know the appropriate group agricultural activities they should partake in. Thus increasing quality and quantity of cassava produce. It will contribute to poverty reduction and enhancing income earning opportunities for poor people and also broaden the knowledge of the women farmers. It can also transform the role of the women farmers into producers and processors thus getting more dividends for hard labour
The consumers will also benefit from the study area as the cassava womens’ participation in group agricultural activities will lead to the supply of large quantity & quality of food crops in the market at low prices. The findings of this study will stimulate more research in the field, it will be of a great help to other researchers that will be carry out research on this field. It will encourage extension workers to create more Agricultural group so as for the women to participate in.
1.5 PLAN OF THE WORK.
The plan of the study is aimed at assessing group activities among cassava women farmers in kabba local government area of kogi state, Nigeria. This work is organized into five chapters; chapter one is the introduction in which the following were discussed; Background of the study, problem statement, objectives of study, significance of the study and the plan work of the study. Chapter Two deals with the relevant literature review, it contains the following; socio-economic characteristics of cassava women, level of women participation in group activities, challenges faced by cassava women farmers, the effect of socio-economic characteristics on their participation in group activities, various cassava products produced by the women farmer in the area, the group agricultural activities the women farmers partake in. Chapter three presents the Research methodological approach adopted for this study; this covers items such as Areas of study, Sampling procedure, Methods of data collection, Method of data analysis Chapter Four focused on the presentation of the results, Analysis and discussion. Chapter Five summarizes the Findings of the study, concludes and make recommendations based on the findings of the study.
Onyemauwa, C.S. 2012. Analysis of women participation in cassava production and processing in Imo state. South-east Nigeria. Journal of Economics and Sustainable, 3(5), 81-90.