Livestock Research for Rural Development 18 (2) 2006 Guidelines to authors LRRD News

Citation of this paper

Impacts of the women-in-agriculture (WIA) extension programme on women's lives; implications for subsistence agricultural production of women in Imo State, Nigeria

S N Odurukwe, E C Matthews-Njoku and N Ejiogu-Okereke

Department of Agricultural Extension, Federal University of Technology, Owerri, Imo State, Nigeria
snodurukwe@yahoo.com

Abstract

This study analysed the impacts of the WIA programme on the lives of women in Imo State Nigeria, with the view of strengthening their subsistence agricultural production. Data were collected from 160 women from both urban and rural areas of the State. Data analysis was achieved using rankings, descriptive statistics and ordinary least square regression models.

The results of the findings show that packages as cassava processing into pancake, and cassava flour, processing and utilization of soybean into flour paste, and soy-meal, cocoyam processing into cocoyam flour, and processing of fresh tomatoes into tomato paste; which recorded high awareness values had low adoption rates. Transferred WIA technologies as cassava processing and utilization - into; odorless fufu, gari, and tapioca (93.16%); processing of maize, into corn meal, and pap (79.77%), processing and storage of fresh tomatoes into tomato paste (86.46%), and dry season vegetable gardening (66.38%) recorded high response from the women as being very relevant to their socioeconomic wellbeing. However, such technologies as cassava processing and utilization into pancake and cassava flour (83.27%), processing of maize into maize flour, and malted maize drink (75.08%) were reported as not relevant. Positive impacts of women adoption of WIA packages were most on the women than the men and the children. It ensured family food security and enhanced children's education and women financial and socioeconomic status. Primary occupation, annual income, household size and membership of women's group showed a positive and very significant relationship with the adoption of the WIA technologies by the women. Among the problems to effective achievement of set objectives is lack of access to land, non-coverage of agricultural production activities.

It is recommended among others that the WIA programme should include women agricultural production needs in its programme of activities, in addition to increasing its' clientele coverage.

Keywords: Imo State, Impacts on Women's live, Nigeria, Women-in-Agriculture Programme


Introduction

The sustainable production of food is the first pillar of food security. Millions of women work as farmers, farm workers and natural resource managers (Onyemobi 2000). In doing so, they contribute to national agricultural output, maintenance of the environment and family food security (Brown et al 2001). In Nigeria the involvement of women in agriculture have attracted greater attention in recent years. The need to develop a suitable extension service that is gender specific and tailored to women farmers cannot be overemphasized. This is in recognition that women play very significant roles in Nigeria agricultural production, processing and utilization (Nnadozie and Ibe 2000), but are constrained under the unified Extension System by socio-cultural barriers, and by the current approach that rely almost exclusively on a network of contact farmers that are over 95% male farmers; little research on products - fruits, vegetables, small livestock which are mainly the responsibility of women farmers

Therefore the integration of women in extension is essential for the achievement of some goals such as increased food production, food self-sufficiency and sustained reduction of poverty and malnutrition. In Nigeria, the Agricultural Development Projects (ADP) of the different States of the Federation had made important advances in incorporating gender in agricultural extension, by modifying the ADP system midstream to provide for women farmers through the creation of Women-In-Agriculture (WIA) programmes in the department of Extension Services of the State ADPs with a gender focus (Oyebanji 1998; Onyibe 2001).

The WIA program sought to improve agricultural extension services for women. Existing home economics agents were retrained in agriculture and extension methodologies, placing special emphasis on women's activities. WIA program ensured that extension services in every state in Nigeria have female extension workers at every level of operation from state headquarters in the capital, down to the villages. The structure of the WIA program itself is also decentralized and integrated into the extension service (Saito and Gadzame 1996).

At headquarters, the WIA head holds the rank of deputy director within the state ADP and is responsible for the overall planning and implementation of the WIA program. She is assisted by subject matter specialists who work for WIA at the zonal level, supervising and monitoring the implementation of the WIA programs in their zone. These specialists interact with research and technology institutions, participate in problem identification and field training, and provide support to WIA block extension agents. At the block level, these agents work directly with women farmers, identifying and organizing women into groups in the eight-cell blocks and registering groups into cooperative societies. The formation of WIA farmers' groups facilitates the dissemination of agricultural innovations and provides women farmers with better access to farm inputs and credit than they would have as individuals.

The Imo state WIA programme was set-up under the Imo state Agricultural Development Project (ISADP) in1991. This programme was established to mobilize women in gender specific activities, which includes post-harvest activities like processing, utilization, storage and marketing of agricultural products. The major activities of WIA still remain to form women group and assist them establish group-farms. It is through this groups that 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 technology as:

Within the last 15 years, theories and tools for gender analysis have also been developed which were found very useful in the field of agricultural research. Today it is widely accepted that women's as well as men's views, and the understanding of gender differences, are important in helping science shape improved technologies for agricultural development and to meet the needs and fit the circumstances of small farm households (Feldstein and Jiggins 1994). When making an analysis on women it is important to recognise their triple role; that is their role as reproducers (child rearing, child bearing), producers (work done for payment, home production) and their community management role (activities undertaken by women at the community level) (Mikkelsen 1995). It is also important to focus on their practical - as well as their strategic gender needs. Practical gender needs are those identified by women and men, which arise out of the customary gender division of labour. Strategic gender needs reflect a challenge to the customary gender relations and imply changes in relations of power and control between men and women (Mikkelsen 1995; Feldstein and Jiggins 1994).

Statement of problem

The WIA programme of the ISADP was introduced with the intention of increasing the well being of women farmers in the state through such areas as group formation for effective utilization of improved agricultural production technologies and management practices. Over the years, this programme has recorded much success both in terms of clientele coverage and in adoption rates of the disseminated technologies. However, no study has been carried out to assess the impact of the programme on the women of the State. This lack of empirical data on this subject area in the state necessitates the need for the study. In the course of the research, the following research questions will be addressed:

- Has the programme effectively covered all aspects of women agricultural production activities?
- Are there personal, socioeconomic and cultural factors that limit women effective participation in the WIA?

- What WIA technologies have been transferred to the women? What was the method of transfer and how much of such technologies were adopted, for what purpose, and by what number of women?

- What are the perceived changes in women socioeconomic status as a result of adopting the WIA technologies?

- Which are the perceived and/or measured impacts of these changes on intra-household gender relationships?

- What are the social and economic costs and benefits associated with women involvement in the WIA programme?

- What are the problems associated with women participation in the programme and how can the programme be strengthened to address sustainable agricultural production of women?

Objectives of the study

The broad objective of this study is to analyse the impact of WIA extension packages on the women of the State. The specific objectives are to;

(i) Determine the personal socio economic characteristics of the women involved in the WIA programme and how these factors affect the rate of adoption of the WIA technologies.
(ii) Evaluate women's' assessment of the relevance of the technologies already transferred to them since the inception of the programme.
(iii) Evaluate the method of transfer of technologies and the level of adoption of the different technologies by the women.
(iv) Assess the social and economic costs and benefits associated with the adoption of these technologies on intra-household relation.
(v) Determine the constraints and ways of strengthening the WIA programme to ensure sustainability of women agricultural production.

Hypotheses

Women adoption of WIA packages is not affected by their personal, socioeconomic characteristics


Methodology

Imo State situated in southeastern Nigeria was chosen for this study. The high level of women participation in agricultural production and in the WIA programme necessitates the choice of this State. The state covers an area of 5,100 square kilometers and has a population of 2,485,499 (NPC1991Missing). Imo state has an undulating topography in the south, which raises gradually towards the north and northeastern parts giving rise to Okigwe rolling hills (Nwadike and Ukawuike 1996). The state lies in the tropical rainforest agro ecological zone, which allows diverse agricultural production. Farming is the main occupation of the people of the state.

Administratively, Imo state is divided into three Agricultural Zones namely; Okigwe, Owerri and Orlu Zones. Owerri and Orlu agricultural zones were selected for this study. The women of these zones are quite enterprising and engage in diverse livelihood activities as farming, trading, processing and marketing of agricultural products to earn additional income. The major food crops grown are, cassava, yam, cocoyam, maize, okro, melon, palm tree and leafy vegetables of all kinds, in addition to other perennial and multipurpose trees.

The study employed multistage random sampling technique in selecting the respondents. An earlier interview with the zonal WIA programme managers of the state revealed that rural and urban women are beneficiaries of the WIA programme. Therefore to ensure effective coverage of these groups of women, the respondents were selected from both urban and rural areas. Four local government areas (LGAs) were selected from each Agricultural Zone. These LGA's reflect the urban and rural settings of the zone. Hence, Owerri south, Owerri municipal, Ahiazu-Mbaise and Ikeduru, LGAs were selected from Owerri Agricultural Zone, while Orlu, Ideato-North, Orsu and Isu LGAs were selected from Orlu Agricultural Zone for the study. This is further followed by the selection of an extension block with the most active WIA activities from each LGA. Twenty women who are beneficiaries of the WIA programme were randomly selected from two women's group in each block with the help of the block extension agents for the study. Thus, giving a sample size of 160 women. However 152 questionnaires were found to be worthy for use in the analyses.

Data collection

Primary data were collected from January - March 2004 through interview schedule technique using questionnaire. These were administered to the respondents with the help of the WIA block extension agents (BEAs). The questionnaire solicited information from the respondents on issues that bother on the set objectives of the study.

Data analysis

Descriptive statistics as tables and percentages was used to achieve objectives (I), and (iii). To achieve objective (ii), the women were asked to rank the various packages as being "very relevant", "relevant" and "not relevant".

A 4-scale-ranking method was used to verify the perceived impacts of socio-economic costs and benefits on the household members; (objective iv). The family members were disaggregated into men, women, boys and girls. Ranking is in the order of 1-4 where;

1= most seriously affected,
2= moderately affected,
3= less affected, and
4= not affected was used to achieve this.

The degree to which the women perceived the identified constraints as being "very serious", "serious" and "not serious" will be used to achieve objective (v)

The degree of association between women's personal and socioeconomic characteristics and their levels of adoption of the WIA packages was determined using the OLS multiple regression technique. The model is implicitly specified as follows;

Y= f (X1, X2, X3, X4, X5, X6, X7, X8, X9, e)  .(1)

Where Y = Number of the WIA packages adopted
X1 = Age in years
X2 = Farm size (in hectares)
X3 = Number of years spent in formal education.
X4 = Primary occupation (dummy, 1 if farmer, 0, otherwise).
X5 = Annual income level (in N)
X6 = Household size.
X7 = Membership of women's association/group/cooperative (dummy, 1 if a member, 0, otherwise).
X8 = Residence location (dummy, 1 if urban, 0 otherwise)
X9 = Number of contacts with WIA extension agent

Three functional forms of the model, linear, double-log and semi log were tried to determine the equation that has the best fit. The values of the R2 and F- test were used to evaluate the overall explanatory power of the regression model. The significance of the parameter estimates was evaluated by means of t-test at 1% and 5% level of significance.


Results and discussions

Awareness level, source of information and rate of adoption of various WIA packages

The WIA extension agents disseminate technologies of the WIA programme to women groups. However there is need to investigate the sources of awareness, level of awareness and adoption rates of the WIA packages to further provide insight for effective targeting of women farmers agricultural production problems. This result is discussed below and the responses shown in table 1.

Table 1.  Distribution of women according to awareness level, source of information and rate of adoption of various WIA packages

Type of WIA Technology

Percentage awareness level

Source of awareness

Percentage rate of adoption

Aware

Not-aware

Adopted

Not-adopted

Cassava processing into pancake, and cassava flour

65.24

34.76

WA and MSG

6.32

93.68

Cassava odorless fufu, garri, and tapioca

97.63

2.37

WA, MSG, Fr, and Rn

74.35

25.65

Maize processing into maize flour and malted maize drink,

53.43

46.57

WA

8.32

91.67

Maize Corn meal, and pap

82.15

17.85

WA, Fr, Rn

79.64

20.3

Processing and utilization of soybean into flour paste, and soy-meal.

85.32

14.68

WA, MSG,Fr

26.54

73.46

Into soymilk

93.45

73.21

All

87.63

12.36

Cocoyam processing into cocoyam flour

71.83

28.17

WA, Fr

13.67

86.33

Cocoyam chips

56.34

43.66

WA, MSG

4.32

95.68

Processing of fresh tomatoes into tomato paste

68.64

31.36

WA

23.54

76.46

Rabbit meat processing and utilization

46.62

53.38

WA, Fr

9.53

90.47

Processing and storage of melon

46.92

53.08

WA, Rn, Fr

43.75

56.25

Dry season vegetable gardening

83.45

16.55

WA, MSG

68.46

31.54

Harvesting and storage of paddy rice

42.85

57.15

WA

3.54

96.46

Source: field survey 2004
Where WA= WIA agents, FR= friends, MSG= members of social groups and Rn= relations

Table 1 reveals that high awareness level does not imply high adoption rates. This is evident in such packages as cassava processing into pancake, and cassava flour, processing and utilization of soybean into flour paste, and soy-meal, cocoyam processing into cocoyam flour, and processing of fresh tomatoes into tomato paste; which recorded high awareness values of 65.24%, (6.32%), 71.83% (13.67%), 85.32% (26.54%), with the corresponding low adoption rates presented as values in brackets.

WIA agents were very efficient as source of information about the new technologies. However, other information sources about the packages reported by the women include friends and members of their social groups.

There was differential adoption of the disseminated WIA packages by the women. Whereas such technologies as cassava processing into cassava odorless fufu, gari, and tapioca, maize processing into maize corn meal, and pap; processing and utilization of soybean into soymilk, and dry season vegetable gardening recorded high adoption rates among the women, others as cassava processing into pancake and cassava flour (6.32%), maize processing into maize flour and malted maize drink (8.32%), cocoyam processing into cocoyam chips (4.32%), rabbit meat processing and utilization (9.535), and harvesting and storage of paddy rice (3.54%)) were poorly adopted by the women with percentage adoption rates shown in brackets.

The women attributed the low adoption rates of these technologies to complexity of the processing methods, lack of access to land, high cost of processing materials, non-conformity with the traditional food value system, high cost of crops used for processing and low market /profit of the products.

Relevance of the WIA packages to women socioeconomic Wellbeing

The relevance of the transferred technologies to enhancing the economic wellbeing of the women is discussed below and the figures shown in table 2. This understanding is important since the ratings given to any technological package will go a long way in determining the rate of its' adoption.

Table 2.  Distribution of respondents by ratings of the relevance of the transferred WIA technologies to their socio-economic welfare

WIA Technology

Percentage response

Very relevant

Relevant

Not relevant

Cassava processing and utilization - into;

 

 

 

Pancake, and cassava flour

4.54

12.18

83.27

Odorless fufu, garri, and tapioca

93.16

6.83

0

Processing of maize, into;

 

 

 

Maize flour and malted maize drink,

6.57

18. 43

75.08

Corn meal, and pap

79.77

20.22

0

Processing and utilization of soybean into;

 

 

 

Flour paste, and soy-meal

13.14

32.65

54.21

Soymilk

34.75

42.91

22.34

Cocoyam processing and utilization into;

 

 

 

Cocoyam flour for soup thickening

46.38

32.91

20.70

Cocoyam chips

7.73

19.14

73.12

Processing and storage of fresh tomatoes into tomato paste

86.46

13.54

0

Rabbit meat processing and utilization

2.16

12.53

85.31

Processing and storage of melon

47.18

28.34

24.48

Dry season vegetable gardening

66. 38

29.34

4.28

Harvesting and storage of paddy rice

1.53

12.49

85.98

Source: field survey 2004

Table 2 reveals that the women classified the WIA technologies as either very relevant, relevant and not relevant. This classification is based on the familiarity of the technology to local family food norms as well as the existence of ready market for the processed products. From the table most of the transferred WIA technologies as Cassava processing and utilization - into; Odorless fufu, gari, and tapioca (93.16%); processing of maize, into corn meal, and pap (79.77%), processing and storage of fresh tomatoes into tomato paste (86.46%), and dry season vegetable gardening (66.38%) recorded high response from the women as being very relevant to their socioeconomic wellbeing. However, such technologies as cassava processing and utilization into pancake and cassava flour (83.27%), processing of maize into maize flour, and malted maize drink (75.08%), cocoyam processing and utilization into cocoyam chips (73.12%); harvesting and storage of paddy rice (85.98%), and rabbit meat processing and utilization (85.31%), were reported as not relevant to the socioeconomic enhancement of the women. These products according to the women, are not readily consumed in the State, and therefore do not command much demand and high profit.

Socio- economic benefits of women adoption of the WIA packages on intra-household dynamics

From table 3, the positive effects of women adoption of WIA packages were most on the women than the men and the children. In the aspect of ensuring family food security, it impacted equally on all household members who attested that this has resulted to varied family menu and the consumption of such foods as chicken and fresh fish, which were formerly beyond the reach of the family. Women adoption of the WIA packages also afforded the family members more access to health facilities.

Table 3.  Distribution according to socio- economic benefits of women adoption of the WIA packages on intra-household dynamics

Socio- Economic Benefits

Women

Men

Boys

Girls

Increased income

1

3

3

4

Improved household food and nutrition security

1

1

1

1

Enhanced educational opportunity

4

4

1

1

Increased purchasing power

1

4

4

4

Enhance decision making power

1

4

4

4

Higher self reliance

1

4

4

4

Access to health facilities

2

3

2

2

Socialization

1

4

4

4

Fulfill household responsibility

1

4

4

4

Offers better clothing

1

3

2

2

Source: field survey 2004
Ranking 1 - 4; Where: 1 = mostly affected, 2 = moderately affected, 3 = less affected and 4 = not affected

This result implies that the fight against hunger can be achieved by widespread adoption of the WIA packages by women since they are responsible for meeting family food needs. Therefore Government should vigorously pursue measures aimed at effective adoption of these packages by women.

Socioeconomic costs on gender of household member

Women involvement in the WIA programme showed some socioeconomic costs on different gender groups of the family as shown in table 4. It increased workload for all members of the household, thereby allowing less time for reproductive functions of women and girls, and for the education of boys and girls.

Table 4.  Distribution according to socio-economic costs of women participation in the WIA programme on intra-household dynamics

Socio-Economic Costs

Men

Women

Boys

Girls

Increased workload

2

1

1

1

Decreased decision making power

1

4

3

3

Less time for reproductive functions

4

1

3

2

Less time for education

4

4

2

1

Decreased leisure time

3

1

2

2

Less time for social activities

4

2

4

4

Higher dependency

1

4

3

2

Source: Field survey 2004.
Where; 1=mostly affected, 2 = moderately affected, 3 = less affected and 4 =not affected

This is in recognition of the fact that these children help out either in the processing or marketing activities of the products. It decreased decision-making power of men especially with respect to use of productive resources, and allocation of income realized through the WIA activities. In addition, higher dependency of men on their wives for economic support was recorded as a result of women involvement in WIA programme. These have lowered men's self esteem and have often led to shift in gender roles and family squabbles.

Positive impacts of WIA programme on women's lives

Results in table 5 show some positive impacts of the WIA programme on the socioeconomic wellbeing of the women irrespective of the region of residence.

Table 5.  Distribution according to positive changes in the lives of women resulting from participation in the WIA programme by region of residence

Perceptions

Percentage response by region

Urban areas

Rural areas

Financially independent

89.32

93.27

Acquisition of property

32.54

4.65

Increased financial contribution to household needs

100

100

Increased financial contribution to childrenís education

64.32

96.87

Enhanced decision making power

85.43

72.4

Higher respect from husband

42.43

56.21

Improved household food & nutrition security

100

100

Source: field survey 2004

Assessment of the impacts by region of the women shows higher impacts on rural women than their urban counterparts. This could be as a result of higher incidence of female-headed-households in the rural areas than in urban cities which in most cases are caused by husband' migration to the cities. All the respondents reported improvement in such areas as family food security and increased financial contribution to household needs. This is in consonance with the cultural gender relations in the household, which allocates to women the function of family upkeep. The impact on children's education was greater for female children than for the males. To some women, it meant higher respect from their husbands as a result of their ability to provide money for family upkeep when the husband's pocket has dried out. This has increased family peace and harmony.

Negative impacts of WIA programme on women's lives

An analysis of the negative impacts of the WIA programme by region on women's lives as shown in table 6, reveals higher impacts on urban women than rural women. The major areas of concern for the women are those that have to do with less time available for reproductive functions, and husbands abandoning family upkeep for women. Due to the time consuming nature of the WIA activities most women abandon reproductive functions (as child care and family food preparation) in the hands of maids and grown females in the house. The effect is poor food quality, and high incidence of child molestation, abuse and neglect, resulting to increase in the number of juvenile delinquencies in the society.

Table 6. Distribution according to negative impacts of WIA programme on womenís lives

Negative indicators

Percentage response by region

Urban

Rural

Offers Less time for other social functions

21.43

33.43

Leads to friction in the family with regards to resource management

37.76

25,8

Less time available for reproductive functions

75.86

75.90

Leads to husbands abandoning family upkeep for women

73.51

89.54

Has promoted promiscuity among women

9.74

5,63

Some women are no more submissive to husbands

35.27

22.53

Source: field survey 2004

According to the women, when husbands abandon household responsibilities to women alone, stressful situation builds up, discontentment sets in and family quarrels become common. In other cases, the situation may cause some women to become promiscuous in order to earn additional income. Promiscuity was reported for some women who in the pretense of hawking their processed products, engage in immoral acts.

Determinants of rate of adoption of WIA packages by women

Statistically, the semi log functional model was accepted as the lead equation since it produced more significant variables at both 5% and 1% levels, had the highest adjusted R2 value, f-ratios, were relatively better and the signs of the coefficients were consistent with a priori expectations. The results of the OLS multiple regression, which analysed the effects of major personal, socioeconomic characteristics of the women on the rate of adoption of the WIA programmes, are presented below.

Semi log Y = -1.794 - 0.006 X1 + 0.084X 2 + 0.1087X 3 + 0.8432X4 + 0.0413X5

t = (-1.864)* (-0.084) (2.124)** (3.115)*** (3.073)*** (2.173)**

0.0442X6 + 0.056X7 + 0.1384X8 + 0.6054X9

t = (3.001)*** (4.103) *** (0.465) (1.998)**

R2 = 0.56, F- value = 2.734 and Prob > F = 0.0226

Values in parenthesis = t-ratio values

*** = Significant at I%, ** = significant at 5% level and * = significant at 10%

The regression result shows that such factors as primary occupation, annual income, household size and membership of women's group showed a positive and very significant relationship (at 1% probability level) with the women adoption of the WIA technologies. Other characteristics that had positive and significant effects on adoption of the WIA packages by women are educational attainment, and number of contacts with WIA agents. The significance of the household size shows that women with larger household size will have the needed labour required for these activities in addition to having more mouths to feed and more income needs. They will therefore seek alternative ways of diversifying their livelihood to earn additional income. Higher income level will afford the opportunity of acquiring the needed inputs and equipment needed for the processing activities. The significance of membership of farmers' group agrees with a priori expectations since these technologies are transferred to the women through their groups.

Women with farming as primary occupation will adopt the WIA technologies higher since these packages are tailored towards agricultural activities. Age recorded a negative but non-significant relationship with the adoption of WIA technologies. This implies that the older the women, the lesser the likelihood of adopting the technology. The region of residence did not affect the adoption of the technology. This therefore implies that the WIA package was adopted irrespective of the region of residence of the women. Farm size showed positive but non-significant relationship with the rate of WIA technology adoption. This could be explained by the fact that most of the introduced technologies are based on "value adding" (processing), with just a few being base on agricultural production of the women.

Factors constraining women active participation in the WIA programme

The women ranked such constraints as lack of access to land, lack of capital and credit facilities, non membership of women's group, non provision of information by the WIA agents on agricultural production technologies, ineffective extension services and coverage among others, as major hindrances to effective achievement of the WIA set objectives of improving the socioeconomic wellbeing of women farmers (Table 7).

Table 7.  Distribution according to factors constraining women active participation in the WIA programme

Barrier Indicators

Percentage ratings

Very Serious

Serious

Not serious

Lack of capital and credit facilities

73.52

20.21

6.27

Lack of labour for operation

34.41

56.26

9.33

Incompatibility of the technology to local norms

61.57

23.11

15.32

Husbandís negative influence

12.43

35.25

52.32

Lack of access to land

84.72

14.24

.1.04

Non membership of womenís group

79.36

13.42

7.22

Low demand for the processed products of WIA package

12.34

37.47

50.19

High cost of agricultural inputs for processing limits the profit

54.31

35.54

10.25

High level of extension agents turnover

67.42

24.16

8.41

Limited information outlet and market situation of processed products limit their spread and profitability

12.81

41.03

46.16

Time consuming and tedious nature of the processing methods

66.43

27.32

6.25

Non centrality in the location of the processing equipment

51.31

14.35

34.34

Non provision of information by the WIA agents on agricultural production technologies

87.53

11.27

1.16

High cost of adequate processing and storage equipment

63. 24

23.53

13.23

Ineffective extension services and coverage

73.35

18.42

8.23

Source: field survey 2004

The women explained that in recent times, there has been high level of extension agents' turnover as a result of delayed salary payment and poor working conditions of the WIA agents. This has often led to delay in technology transfer, distortion of the information dissemination chain and general discontentment on the part of the women clientele.

The WIA programme does not ensure effective coverage of women since it was designed not to target individual women but women's group, thereby excluding extension coverage to such women who may have reasons (either religious or social) for not belonging to any primary group. In addition, the women described the programme as ineffective extension services delivery system since it neglects women agricultural and livestock production problems, as well as other constraints faced by women farmers.

Recommendations for strengthening the WIA programme to support women agricultural production

Government should ensure prompt payment of Extension staff salary and better working condition to take care of the problem of high level of extension agent's turnover.

Agricultural production inputs as improved planting materials, fertilizers, agro-chemicals should be made available to the rural farmers through the agro-service centers and farm-centers instead of consigning them to local Government officials and state ministry of agriculture.

The WIA programme should enlarge its clientele coverage to include women-non-members of primary societies so as to avail them the opportunity of adopting the technology.

The ADP system should increase the number of female extension agents and train all extension agents on gender issues.

The WIA programme should increase its activities to include tasks and decisions where women played an active role which include; health care, agricultural production (food crop and livestock production), and family nutrition.

The National Orientation Agency to carry out enlightenment campaign on the need for husbands to assist women in family upkeep as well as allow their wives greater control over their income.

Land tenure issue should be revisited and relevant laws made which allows women farmer's access to land for agricultural production.


Conclusion


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Received 21 December 2004; Accepted 3 March 2005; Published 8 February 2006

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