Analysis of Women Participation in Cassava Production and Processing in Imo State, Southeast Nigeria
Background to the study
An understanding of gender contributions to food output in rural households in Nigeria is important. This will ensure effective allocation of production resources within the rural households. The attendant increase in agricultural production arising from this will increase the farm output of the households and improve their standard of living. Numerous studies indicate that rural development policies directed at the household may not have their intended effects or produce unintended negative outcomes, unless the role and position of gender in rural households are explicitly taken into account (Odii, 1996). Women in Nigeria form an active and reserve labour force but they rarely own the means of productions (Rahman, 2004). However, the position of women in meeting challenges of agricultural development cannot be over emphasized. Women make a significant contribution to food production; they provide 60-80% of agricultural labour and are responsible for 80% of food production (Mgbada, 2002; Rahman, 2004). Socio-economic and political obstacles have for long been intensifying gender inequality and exacerbating poverty among women (Rahman and Haruna, 1999).
Statement of the Problem
Under male-dominated social structures and political systems, women do not derive equal access to land, technology, education and resources (Tanko, 1994). The problem of food shortages in Nigeria has been attributed to an acute dearth of male labour and a shift of farm responsibilities to the women (Igben, 1988; Okigbo, 1989; Uwadie, 1993). There has also been a great disparity
between women and men in the size of land holdings as well as any overall trend of increasing landlessness pressure (Quisumbing, 1994).
Cassava and cassava-based products are the most important food for the people of southeastern Nigeria. Cassava is almost a daily menu in households especially in southeastern Nigeria. A study on the consumption pattern of cassava in southeastern Nigeria shows that 53.3% and 34% of people ate cassava in various forms daily and every other day, respectively (Okolo, 1986).
Intensifying efforts to improve the cultivation and processing of cassava will improve the lives of many households in Imo State. In view of the above, the need to analyse the involvement of women in cassava production and processing in Imo State becomes imperative.
The objectives of this study are
(i) to describe the socio- economic characteristics of women that participate in cassava production and processing in the area,
(ii) determine the level of women participation in cassava production and processing,
(iii) identify the factors that affect women participation in cassava production and processing and,
(iv) identify the constraints faced by women in cassava production and processing in the area.