Women in Agricultural Production in Nigeria. Participation in Agricultural Services and Training Center (ASTC) Activities

Research Paper (undergraduate), 2021

82 Pages, Grade: 74.5



Title Page

Table of contents

List of Tables

List of Figures


1.1 Background of the Study
1.2 Statement of the Problem
1.3 Objectives of the Study
1.4 Justification of the Study
1.5 Hypothesis of the Study
1.6 Scope of the Study

2.1 Women Participation in Economic Activities
2.2 Theoretical framework
2.3 Global Account of Women Participation in Agriculture and Agricultural Practices
2.4 An Overview of Agricultural Services and Training Centers (ASTCs) Activities
2.5 Empirical Studies on factors affecting Accessibility and Utilization of Agricultural Services
2.6 Gender analysis in agricultural production
2.7 Women's Contribution to Agricultural Production and Unequal Benefits
2.8 Gender Roles in Agricultural Production
2.9 Empirical Studies of Socio-economic Characteristics of Project Beneficiaries
2.10 Diffusion and Adoption of Innovation Theory
2.11 Conceptual Framework
2.12 Conceptual Model
2.13 Level of Awareness of Agricultural Innovations
2.14 Level of Farmers Participation in Agricultural Programmes
2.15 Factors Influencing Participation in Agricultural Programmes
2.16 Empirical studies on Impact Assessment of Agricultural Extension Programmes/Projects

3.1 Study Area
3.2 Sampling Technique
3.3 Methods of Data Collection
3.4 Analytical techniques
3.5 Model specification

4.1 Socioeconomic Characteristics of the Respondents
4.2 Types of ASTC Activities Available to the Respondents
4.3 Benefits of Participation in ASTC Activities
4.4 Determinants of Participation in ASTC Activities
4.5 Constraints of Participation in ASTC Activities

5.1 Summary
5.2 Conclusion
5.3 Recommendations




Table 1: Distribution of the Respondents Based on their Age

Table 2: Distribution of Respondents Based on their Marital Status

Table 3: Distribution of the Respondents Based on their Level of Educational

Table 4: Distribution of the respondents based on their household size

Table 5: Distribution of Respondents Based on their Farm Size

Table 6: Distribution Based on their Membership of Cooperative Societies or Groups

Table 7: Distribution of the respondents based on their farm income

Table 8: Distribution of Respondents Based on their Farming Experience

Table 9: Distribution of Respondents based on their Extension Contact

Table 10: Distribution of Respondents Based on Available ASTC Activities

Table 11: Distribution Based on the Benefits of Participation in ASTC Activities

Table 12: Factors Influencing Participation in ASTC Activities

Table 13: Distribution Based on the Constraints of Participation in ASTC Activities


Figure 1. Conceptual Model of the study showing Dependent and Independent variable

Figure 2. Map of Plateau State with all the local governments


The role of women in agricultural production in Nigeria can never be underestimated; women play prime role in traditional farming from manual farm activities, agro-processing and homemaking. This study therefore analyzed the participation in ASTC activities among women farmers in Jos-south Local Government Area of Plateau state, Nigeria. Multi stage sampling techniques was adopted for this study. Primary data collected were analyzed using descriptive statistics, weighted average index analysis and Binary Logit regression. The result of the study revealed that 63.75% were married; 56.3% are members of cooperative societies or groups; 51.3% had access to extension contact. The estimated mean for age, educational training, household size, farm size, farm income and farming experience were 39 years, 6 years; 8 people; 1.1ha; ₦108,500/ha and 12 years respectively. The results also revealed that most (75%) of the farmers participated in the agronomic techniques package, followed by capacity training package (61.25%) and market linkage package (58.75%). The benefits of participating in ASTC activities among the respondents were through agricultural production trainings (2.64), discounted services (2.63), technology access (2.53), extension contact (2.45), access to improved varieties (2.4), market linkage (2.35), training on green technology (2.3), access to credit (2.13) and fertilizer/agrochemical application (2.1); as reflected by their weighted average index. Furthermore, the estimated coefficient of multiple determination (R2) was 0.7204; hence, 72% variation in participation decisions among the women in ASTC activities was accounted for by variables in the regression model. The critical constraints to participation in ASTC activities include; poor access to credit (93.8%), inadequate capital (85%), inadequate input supply (78.8%) and cost of ASTC activities (75%). It is therefore recommended that; improved access to agricultural credit, input subsidy and supply, improved cooperative activities, market linkages and capacity training for women farmers are germane to mitigate this trend.



1.1 Background of the study

Women constitute more or less half of any country’s population in most countries. However, women contribute much less than men towards the value of recorded activities both quantitatively in labour force participation and qualitatively in education achievement and skilled manpower. Lawanson (2008) pointed out that, the under-utilization of female in agriculture has obvious implications for economic welfare and growth. Women are regarded as home makers, who oversee and coordinate the affairs and activities at home while the men go out to the farm to work. But at home, however, they engage in the processing of food crops and other produce in addition to their housekeeping duties. In traditional communities, women like their male counterparts, hold farm lands and assist their husbands in their farming activities, as well as actively participate in non-agricultural activities such as craft and dyeing, weaving and spinning, food processing, retail trade, etc. Lawanson (2008) shed more light on the role of Nigerian women in agriculture. As in other parts of Africa, Nigerian women have worked side by side with men in agriculture with some marked division of labour between them. The men performed the tasks of felling trees, gathering and burning of bush and making ridges while women were involved in planting of seeds particularly food crops, harvesting, transportation, processing and selling of farm products. In Nigeria, there are significant regional differences in women participation in agricultural activities; for instance; a study of women in the country revealed that on an overall basis, 40% of the rural women surveyed regarded farming as their major occupation. On regional basis, 89%, 10% and 6% of those in the east, west and south respectively regarded agriculture as their main occupation (Lawanson, 2008). Damisa et al. (2007) pointed out that various researches conducted on the contribution of women to agricultural development in the country suggest that women contribution to farm work is as high as 40% of the total farm task performed. Women play prime role in traditional farming from manual farm activities, agro-processing and homemaking (Majumdar and Shah, 2017). The contribution of the women ranges from such tasks as land clearing, land-tilling, planting, weeding, fertilizer/manure application to harvesting, good processing, threshing, winnowing, milling, transportation and marketing as well as the management of livestock. Damisa and Yohanna (2007) stated that the role of women in agricultural production in Nigeria can never be underestimated. They perform crucial roles in the domestic and economic life of the society. Rural and national developments can hardly be achieved with the neglect of this important and substantial segment of the society. As such, focus is on planned and desirable change in the rural societies in the form of agricultural development. The success of this planned change is however hinged largely on the active participation of women in agricultural production.

Charles and Willem (2008) opined that the importance of the role played by women in agricultural production is such that the wide spread failure so far to reach women farmers through formal extension services has major repercussion for natural output and food security as well as social justices. Sharon (2008) viewed that both women and men play critical roles in agriculture throughout the world, producing, processing and providing the food we eat. Women make up half the rural population and they constitute more than half for the agriculture labor force. Women in particular are responsible for half of the world’s food production and produce between 60% and 80% of the food in most developing countries. Yet, despite their contribution to global food security, women farmers are frequently underestimated and over looked in development strategies. Fabiyi et al., (2007) posited that lack of adequate land and extension contact for women are serious constraints faced by women farmers. Women very rarely own land in Nigeria, despite their heavy involvement in agriculture. In recent years, the need to reverse the declining agricultural production trend has led the Federal Government of Nigeria and Plateau State government in particular, to embark on several agricultural policies and programmes some of which are defunct or abandoned, while others are still in place. Agricultural Services and Training Centre (ASTC) activity is aimed at ensuring farmers participation in different parts of the State so as to ensure all year round agricultural production, sustainable increase in income of ASTC participants through the expansion of farm size with added value output. In the same vein, the government of Plateau State in 2008 entered into a joint venture agreement with an Israeli SEC company specialized in agricultural development and thus initiated and implemented the ASTC intervention activity, as an alternative approach, with emphasis on agricultural production. The vision is aimed at agrarian reform through the introduction of modern farming techniques referred to as protective farming system, which could make agricultural production attractive, create employment opportunities for the youths, and to prove that agriculture could serve as the nation‘s dependable and sustainable alternative source of income /revenue generation. Some of the activities carried out by the center or agency includes; provision of agricultural inputs, effective and efficient training of farmers on production processes, modern agronomic practices of crop production, use of net protective farming, provision of drip and other irrigation facilities, green house application style, efficient tractor hiring activities and effective marketing channels for the products (ASTC Bulletin, 2012). However, very few empirical studies have been available to confirm the intended impact in Plateau State (ASTC bulletin, 2012). This has constituted a gap in knowledge that needs to be filled making this study particularly imperative. Several literatures reveal that the reasons for failure of past development programmes were poor data base used for policy formulation. This study is therefore significant to highlight the objectives of ASTC activity and its consequent impacts on women farmers.

1.2 Statement of the Problem

There is a dearth of knowledge on women participation in agricultural activities today. In Nigeria today, women are excluded from certain economic activities due to formal barriers as well as informal barriers to entry, the formal barriers may include; lack of educational or teaching training and labour laws and trading customs, while the informal barriers include; customs and religious practices; difficulties in combining domestic and labour market activities, management and worker attitudes (lawanson, 2008). Previous studies legitimized the idea of women as productive partners in agriculture, discovering and documenting the various roles played by women as farmers and agricultural professionals, while recounting the stories of successful women in these roles. Nigeria women are saddled with most of the tasks in agricultural production ‘supposedly’ meant for the man but the benefits gained by them are not commensurate to the man-hours they spend on the task. Despite the dominant and important role women play in agricultural activities in the country. They are hardly given any attention in the area of training and/or visitation by extension agents with improved technologies. Banks hardly grant them loans and they are hardly reached with improved seeds, fertilizer and other inputs (Damisa et al., 2007). It has traditionally been difficult for women to obtain bank loans or other forms of credit through the banking system. Land tenure system is mainly by inheritance. This lack of title to land prevents women from exercising or improving their expertise in crop production and animal husbandry attributable to tenure security. Majority of them use low yielding and unimproved planting materials primitive and labour intensive farm implements, traditional farming practices, which have adversely affected agricultural production. It has been reported that 80% of the work done on the farm in agriculture activities takes place in rural areas. It is now widely demonstration that rural women, as well as men, throughout the world are engaged in a range of productive activities essential for improved household welfare, agricultural productivity and economic growth. Yet women’s substantial contribution continues to be under-valued in conventional agricultural and economic analysis and policies; therefore they need for this study to investigate this trend (Fabiyi et al., 2007). A lot of literatures have shown the various contributions of women to agricultural production in Nigeria. The role of women in agricultural production has however not widely been explored. Male dominance in decision making in the household and economy as well as agricultural production has continued even in areas where women are the key providers of labour because the influence of women has not been recognized. The women have more or less been relegated to play second fiddle in homes and the economy. Considering therefore the importance of active participation of rural women in agricultural production, it is necessary to correct for this anomaly. According to the World Bank participation source book, in Nigeria, women play a dominant role in agricultural production. This was confirmed by the findings of a study financed by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in which the study revealed that women make up 65% of the agricultural labor force in Nigeria and produce two-thirds of the food crops. Yet, despite this facts, widespread assumptions that men-and not women-make the key farm management decisions have prevailed. As a result, agricultural extension services in Nigeria (as in other African countries) have traditionally been focused on men and their farm production needs, while neglecting the female half of the production force. Most extension messages targeted at women emphasized their domestic role with topics on child care and family nutrition.

Also in many agricultural intervention programmes, the actualization of its objectives is a measure of the extent to which it has made impact on the beneficiaries or participating farmers. In relation to participation and adoption there are various determinants that positively or negatively contribute to participation and adoption of technologies, it is therefore necessary to identify specific determinants or factors so as not to generalize one mode of participation and adoption within a particular socio - cultural context. It is in view of this irrevocable fact that makes it imperative that studies on farmers’ participation and adoption under different conditions or settings be undertaken to ascertain its peculiar determinants and so as to add to the existing adoption theory, particularly among women. The problems of the women farmers are further accentuated by illiteracy, underdevelopment, unemployment and poverty. Despite the productive women labor force in agriculture their needs and problems are somewhat ignored by the rural development initiatives. Recommendation from this study will also serve as blue-print for policy makers researchers, extension officers and organization involved in agricultural development. This study examines and provides valuable information on the participation and impacts of ASTC activities on the livelihoods of women farmers. Without adequate evaluation, one cannot be sure whether the objectives of the activity were comprehensively achieved. It is in view of this that the study was conceived to answer the following research questions:

1. What are the socioeconomic characteristics of the participants?
2. What are the ASTC activities available in the study area?
3. What are the benefits of ASTC activities?
4. What are the factors influencing participation in ASTC activities?
5. What are the constraints to participation in ASTC services?

1.3 Objectives of the Study

The broad objective of the study was to analyze the participation in agricultural services and training center (ASTC) activities among women in Jos-South Local Government Area, Plateau State, Nigeria, while the specific objectives were to:

i. describe the socioeconomic characteristics of the participants in the study area;
ii. ascertain the ASTC activities available in the study area;
iii. evaluate the benefits of ASTC activities; and
iv. determine the factors influencing participation in ASTC activities.
v. identify the constraints to participation in ASTC services.

1.4 Justification of the Study

Agriculture used to be the mainstay of Nigeria occupation prior to the discovery of oil; which also resulted to the neglect and jettison of the agricultural sector. The world over have encouraged and advocated gender sensitivity; meaning women should be considered and granted fair opportunities in all economic activities and in particular the agricultural sector. Women play multidimensional role in sustainable development of economy through their contribution in household and agricultural activities (Singh, et al., 2012). They contribute in every field of agriculture- from land preparation to harvesting of crops. Apart from this, they also manage allied activities like dairy cattle, fodder collection, beekeeping, mushroom production, goat rearing and poultry etc. They contribute substantially in household income and thus enhance household welfare status (Shahi, et. al., 2018). Women are the backbone of the society and important resource in agriculture and rural economy. They make essential contributions to the agricultural development and allied and household activities and pursue multiple livelihood strategies. These activities include producing agricultural crop, cleaning animals, preparing food, working in rural enterprises, engaging in trade and marketing, caring family members and maintaining their homes. About 63% of all economically active men are engaged in agriculture as compared to 78% of women. Traditionally, women have always played an important role in agriculture- as farmers, co-farmers, wage labors and managers of farms. Women carry heavier work burden in food production, however due to gender discrimination, get lower returns for their work. The multiple role of women leads to a significant contribution in real terms to the productive system. Despite their dominance of the labour force, women still face extreme disadvantage in terms of pay, land rights and representation in local farmers’ organizations and have been underrepresented in development processes. Apart from this, women face many challenges due to limited access to productive resources in agricultural production which prevent them in enhancing their productivity (Slathia, 2015). The multitasking potentiality of female labour has significant propositions for agricultural productivity, rural production, economic vitality, household food security, family health, family economic security and welfare (Ghosh and Ghosh, 2014). This study also examines and provides valuable information on the impacts of ASTC technologies on the livelihoods of women farmers. Understanding the impact of ASTC on the livelihoods of the women farmers is very important. Also in many agricultural intervention programmes, the actualization of its objectives is a measure of the extent to which it has made impact on the beneficiaries or participating farmers. Therefore, this study seeks to bring out the performance of ASTC activities in relation to the participating farmers as well provide information on the problems that affected ASTC project in terms of attainment of its goals. It further seeks to know how these improved technologies, training and services of this project is locally adaptable, provides solutions to stress and shocks in the production process and its impact in the volume of agricultural production. Women should be encouraged to participate in different farming activities; to boost agricultural capacity of the study area and the state at large. This study will be of benefit to women, agricultural professionals, policy makers, researchers, as well as other stake holders. This study will reveal the enormous benefits from engaging in agricultural production activities among women. This study will identify the challenges women face in participating in agricultural activities. The society will benefit by having more women farming and participating in agricultural activities; it tends to boost agricultural production. There are various determinants that positively or negatively contribute to participation and adoption of technologies, it is therefore necessary to identify specific determinants factor so as not to generalize one mode of participation and adoption within a particular sociocultural context. This shows a distinction and variability in the socioeconomic, institutional and technological aspects of participation and adoption. It is in view of this irrevocable fact that makes it imperative that studies on women farmers’ participation and adoption under different conditions or settings be undertaken to ascertain its peculiar determinants and so as to add to the existing adoption theory. The evaluation of the programme would help to objectively review comprehensively its experiences and effects on the target group as basis for future policy formulation and programme design. It is hoped that the findings would give the state and the public in general the privilege of having a perfect understanding of the activities of the programme. Also in many agricultural intervention programmes, the actualization of its objectives is a measure of the extent to which it has made impact on the beneficiaries or participating farmers. Therefore, this study seeks to bring out the performance of ASTC activities in relation to the participating women farmers as well provide information on the problems affecting ASTC project in terms of attainment of its goals. Recommendation from this study will also serve as blue-print for policy makers researchers, extension officers and organization involved in agricultural development. This study is therefore significant to highlight how far the goals and objectives of ASTC project and its consequent impacts on the farmers’ livelihood.

1.5 Hypothesis of the Study

The null hypotheses to be tested in this study:

H0: There is no significant relationship between the socioeconomic characteristics of the respondents and their participation in ASTC activities.

1.6 Scope of the Study

This study analyzed participation in agricultural services and training center (ASTC) activities among women in Jos-South Local Government Area, Plateau State, Nigeria.



2.1 Women Participation in Economic Activities

Garba (2004) 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, 2003) reported that women in Africa make up more than one-third of the work force. Edward et al. (2008) in their study of urban women’s participation in the construction industry; 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 re-orientation of the national credit policy to incorporate specific needs of women in the construction industry and to explore other strategies that reduce gender burden on women. Mahabub and Manik (2004), reported the 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 duties as only 6% of the women worked for more than six hours a day in economic activities such as; livestock rearing and homestead gardening and cottage industries, while men have allocated more time in economic activities in which earnings are higher. Agbalajobi (2010) 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, religious beliefs, traditional practices and patriarchal societal structures and as a result have become the target of violence of diverse forms. The study found patriarchy, women’s conception of politics, lack of economic incentives, discriminatory customs and laws and lack of affirmative action quota as factors responsible for women’s low participation in economic activities. As a result, it is concluded that women participation in socioeconomic activities 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. A UN report of 1989 stated that four out of every ten agricultural workers in the world are women and they are responsible for more than half of the world’s food production; they produce about 60% - 80% of basic foodstuff in Africa. It is postulated that African women farmers account for 70% of agricultural work force, 80% of food production, over 90% of basic foodstuff processing, and undertake about 60% - 90% of agricultural the marketing processes. Yahaya (2002) 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 production including pork; and constitute about 60% of the farming population.

According to Fabiyi, et al. (2007) 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; using interview schedules to obtain information from the women on their socio-economic characteristics, farm activities, level of farm production and their production constraints. Descriptive statistics was used to analyze the data collected. The result revealed that the social demography of women indicated that 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 leased landholdings for the purpose of farming. The respondent’s 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 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. Saito and Weidemann (1990) reported that Women do not have adequate access to agricultural information and innovations. Lack of separate land for women and inadequate contact with extension agents are serious constraints faced by women farmers. Famoriyo et al, (1977) revealed that inability of women to own land prevent them from exercising or improving their expertise in crop production and animal husbandry because of rigidity of land tenure system in many parts of Nigeria. As a result, majority of them use low yielding and unimproved planting materials, primitive and labour intensive farm implements and traditional farming practices, which have adversely affected agricultural production. Thelma et al. (2004), in their study of changing women’s roles in homestead management: mainstreaming women in rural agriculture and development of Bangladesh; used qualitative and descriptive statistics for data collection and analysis observed that the dominant view perceived women as mere housewives which should be replaced by the recognition that their roles in production and their contributions to family income are crucial for improving the livelihoods of the household. The study concluded that women empowered through equal access as men in training and extension programs such as seed management and other improved methods of rice cultivation influenced agricultural production. They recommended commitment to gender equality, additional technical/expertise in favour of women; and strong monitoring and evaluation mechanism be devised in order to ensure that targeted women benefit from various development efforts. Chayal et al. (2010) in their study of the analysis of role performed by women in agriculture in India found that there is greater involvement of women in various agricultural operations. They concluded that policy intervention could enhance women participation in actual farm work to as high as 70%. In addition, they reported that landholding, age, and family income greatly influence women participation in agriculture and recommended for effective policy intervention in order to boost women socio – economic structure. Also, Butt, et al. (2010) conducted a study on the role of rural women in agricultural development and their constraints: a case study in Depalpur, Okara-Pakistan; found women playing crucial role in the food security of rural areas due to their engagements in crop production, livestock production and agro-cottage industries. They also found women having inadequate access to farm input/resources, agricultural extension education services, and improved technical knowledge and information sources. They recommended that serious attention be given to eliminating constraints faced by women. From the above reviews, the role and contribution of women participation in agriculture have been analyzed as well as their participation in other economic activities, such as; politics and administration.

2.2 Theoretical framework

Concepts such as gender equality, empowerment, and participation are distinguished in relation to agricultural activities so as to give succinct insight into the meaning of women participation in economic activities, especially in agriculture, the main theme of the study.

2.2.1 Gender Equality

Gender equality is generally used to describe a situation: a society at a given time can be considered more or less gender equal. It is common to distinguish between two dimensions of equality: Equality in outcomes and equality in opportunities. Equality in outcomes means that women and men enjoy the same standard of living, degree of autonomy, status and other socially valued goods. Equality in opportunities means that men and women have equal access to agricultural inputs, education, borrowing, election to legislative assemblies, labour market careers etc. Terms such as a “level playing field” are often used to describe a situation with equal opportunities.

2.2.2 Women Participation

The concept of participation relates to who takes part in a set of society’s activities and how they do it. The list of activities considered could be agricultural sector, formal sector employment, general and local elections, legislative work, household work, etc. As a consequence, participation can be seen as a measure of equality – both in opportunities (for example, participation in paid work) and outcomes (for example, participation in the use of public services). It is important to notice, however, that women’s participation does not imply equality between men and women. The fact that women participate in paid work does not imply that women receive or control the income which they generate. Hence, it is possible to have situations where women participate but do not achieve equality. On the other hand, it is hard to imagine that equality can exist without a minimum of participation in socio – economic and political processes (Duflo, 2005; Narayan, 2002; Akerkar, 2001).

2.2.3 Empowerment of Women

A key factor in the concept of women empowerment is that gender empowerment relates to the ability of women to manage their lives; women empowerment involves an improvement in women’s ability to manage their own lives obtained through increased access to key resources and activities (World Bank, 2013; Duflo, 2005; Kabeer, 2005). The understanding of women’s empowerment gives a direct link between empowerment and equality of opportunities. The process of empowering women will improve their access to agricultural inputs, education, access to formal sector employment, access to entrepreneurship, access to finance, control over fertility etc., which entails an expansion of women’s opportunities in the direction of equal opportunities in comparison with men.

2.3 Global Account of Women Participation in Agriculture and Agricultural Practices

2.3.1 Women in Agriculture

Women work in agriculture as farmers on their own account, as unpaid workers on family farms and as paid or unpaid laborers on other farms and agricultural enterprises (Ahmed and Maitra, 2010). Women are involved in both crop and livestock production at subsistence and commercial levels. They produce food and cash crops and manage mixed agricultural operations often involving crops, livestock and fish farming and are considered as part of the agricultural labour force (FAO, 2011). Also, FAO (2011) found that women comprise an average of 43% of the agricultural labour force of developing countries. The female share of the agricultural labour force ranges from about 20% in Latin America to almost 50% in Eastern and Southeastern Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. Women in sub-Saharan Africa have relatively high overall labour-force participation rates and the highest average agricultural labour-force participation rates in the world. Cultural norms in the region have long encouraged women to be economically self-reliant and traditionally give women substantial responsibility for agricultural production in their own right. Regional data for sub-Saharan Africa conceal wide differences among countries. The share of women in the agricultural labour force ranges from 36% in Côte d’Ivoire and the Niger to over 60% in Lesotho, Mozambique and Sierra Leone. A number of countries have seen substantial increases in the female share of the agricultural labour force in recent decades due to a number of reasons, including conflict, HIV/AIDS and migration. Also, the female share of the agricultural labour force in the Near East and North Africa appears to have risen substantially, from 30% in 1980 to almost 45%. Some of the highest and fastest-growing rates of female agricultural labour force participation in the region are found in Jordan, the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya and the Syrian Arab Republic (Alene, et al., 2008).Women in Eastern and Southeastern Asia also make very substantial contributions to the agricultural labour force, almost as high on average as in sub-Saharan Africa. The regional average is dominated by China, where the female share of the agricultural labour force has increased slightly since 1980 to almost 48%. The share of women in the agricultural labour force in most other countries in the region has remained fairly steady at between 40% and 50%, although it is substantially lower and declining in some countries such as Malaysia and the Philippines. The Southern Asian average is dominated by India; where the share of women in the agricultural labour force has remained steady at just over 30% (FAO, 2011).The countries of Latin America have high overall female labour-force participation rates, but much lower participation in agriculture than those in other developing country regions. This pattern reflects relatively high female education levels, economic growth and diversification, and cultural norms that support female migration to service jobs in urban areas. Just over 20% of the agricultural labour force in Latin America was female in 2010, slightly higher than in 1980. The South American countries like Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru dominate both the average and the rising trend, while many countries in Central America and the Caribbean have seen declining shares of women in the agricultural labour force (FAO, 2011).

2.3.2 Women in Modern Contract Farming

One noteworthy feature of modern agricultural value chains is the growth of contract farming or out-grower schemes for high-value produce through which large scale agro-processing firms seek to ensure a steady supply of quality produce. Such schemes can help small-scale farmers and livestock producers overcome the technical barriers and transaction costs involved in meeting the increasingly stringent demands of urban consumers in domestic and international markets (Maertens and Swinnen, 2009). Evidence shows, however, that female farmers are largely excluded from modern contract-farming arrangements because they lack secure control over land, family labour and other resources required to guarantee delivery of a reliable flow of produce. Evidence also revealed that women comprise fewer than 10% of the farmers involved in small-holder contract-farming schemes and vegetable export sector (Dolan, 2001). Also, only 1 of a sample of 59 farmers contracted in Senegal to produce French beans for the export sector was a woman (Maertens and Swinnen, 2009).While men control the contracts, however, much of the farm work done on contracted plots is performed by women as family labourers. For example, in 70% of sugarcane contract-farming in South Africa; the principal farmers on the sugarcane plots were women. Women work longer hours than men in vegetable contract-farming schemes controlled by male farmers in the Indian Punjab (Singh et al., 2013). In a large contract-farming scheme involving thousands of farmers in China, women – while excluded from signing contracts themselves – perform the bulk of the work related to contract farming. Women may not be well compensated as unpaid family labour in contract-farming schemes unless there is policy intervention (Maertens and Swinnen, 2009).

2.3.3 Women and Pastoral Farming

Within pastoralist and mixed farming systems, livestock play an important role in supporting women and in improving their financial situation and women are heavily engaged in the sector. An estimated two-thirds of rural livestock productions, totaling approximately 400 million people, are women. They share responsibility with men and children for the care of animals, and particular species and types of activity are more associated with women than men. For example, women often have a prominent role in managing poultry, dairy animals and in caring for other animals that are housed and fed within the homestead (FAO, 1998). When tasks are divided, men are more likely to be involved in constructing housing and the herding of grazing animals, and in marketing products if women’s mobility is constrained. The influence of women is strong in the use of eggs, milk and poultry meat for home consumption and they often have control over marketing these products and the income derived from them. Perhaps for this reason, poultry and small-scale dairy projects have been popular investments for development projects that aim to improve the lot of rural women (FAO, 2011). In some countries, small-scale pig production is also dominated by women. Female-headed households are as successful as male-headed households in generating income from their animals, although they tend to own smaller numbers of animals, probably because of labour constraints. Livestock ownership is particularly attractive to women in societies where access to land is restricted to men (Bravo-Baumann, 2000). Pastoralist and small-scale mixed-farming systems continue to be important in meeting the needs of rural consumers, the demands of growing urban populations (FAO, 2011). According to FAO (2011), the role of women in meeting these changing demands may diminish, for two reasons. The first is that when livestock enterprises scale up, the control over decisions and income, and sometimes the entire enterprise, often shifts to men, though not a universal phenomenon but it is common and can be explained by women’s limited access to land and credit. The second important factor is that all smallholders face challenges when the livestock sector intensifies and many go out of business (Rola et al., 2006).

2.3.4 Women in Aquaculture

In 2008, nearly 45 million people worldwide were directly engaged, full time or part time, in the fishery primary sector. In addition, an estimated 135 million people are employed in the secondary sector, including postharvest activities. Information from 86 countries indicates that in 2008, 5.4 million women worked as fishers and fish farmers in the primary sector which represents 12% (FAO, 2011).Women have rarely engaged in commercial offshore and long-distance capture fisheries because of the vigorous work involved but also because of their domestic responsibilities and/or social norms. They are more commonly occupied in subsistence and commercial fishing from small boats and canoes in coastal or inland waters. Women also contribute as entrepreneurs and provide labour before, during and after the catch in both artisanal and commercial fisheries as in West Africa (FAO, 2011). Studies of women in aquaculture, especially in Asia where aquaculture has a long tradition, indicate that the contribution of women in labour is often greater than men’s Women are reported to constitute 33% of the rural aquaculture workforce in China, 42% in Indonesia and 80% in Vietnam (Kusabe and Kelker, 2001). The most significant role played by women in both artisanal and industrial fisheries is at the processing and marketing stages, where they are very active in all regions. In some countries, women have become significant entrepreneurs in fish processing; in fact, most fish processing is performed by women, either in their own household-level industries or as wage labourers in the large scale processing industry (FAO, 2011).

2.3.5 Women in Forestry

Women contribute to both the formal and informal forestry sectors in many significant ways. They play roles in agro-forestry, watershed management, tree improvement, and forest protection and conservation. Forests also often represent an important source of employment for women, especially in rural areas. From nurseries to plantations, and from logging to wood processing, women make up a notable proportion of the labour force in forest industries throughout the world. However, although women contribute substantially to the forestry sector, their roles are not fully recognized and documented, their wages are not equal to those of men and their working conditions tend to be poor (World Bank, FAO and IFAD, 2009). The Global Forest Resources Assessment 2010 reports that the forestry sector worldwide employed approximately 11 million people in 2005; however, gender disaggregated data on the number of women employed by the sector are not available on a comprehensive basis (FAO, 2010). Evidence from developing countries suggests that women are often employed in menial jobs in sawmills, plantation nurseries and logging camps (World Bank, FAO and IFAD, 2009). Studies conducted by FAO in Africa and Europe indicate that women do not hold senior or policy-making positions in the sector. Rather, they are primarily employed in administrative and support roles, with professional women foresters tending to have specialist roles (research) or first-line junior management positions (FAO, 2007). The studies indicate that even though women are still underrepresented in the industry, examples of good practice are emerging, especially in Europe (FAO, 2006). This shows that concerted and sustained commitment and planning at senior organizational levels can result in quantifiable improvements in the number of professional women foresters employed and the level of seniority they can attain.

2.4 An Overview of Agricultural Services and Training Centers (ASTCs) Activities

Agriculture Services & Training Center (ASTC) is a unique concept developed by Green-2000 Limited for supporting small-scale farmers and improving their productivity. The ASTC renders mechanized services including tillage, planting, spraying, cultivation and weeding, and harvesting for farmers in the area. Other services provided to its members training, technical support and services which lead to remarkable improvements in the agricultural profitability and development. The company’s effort towards agricultural service provision was successful in Israel, India, USA, and some parts of Africa. Other ASTC sub-stations outside the Plateau can be found in Saminaka, Jere, Gurara, Samaru to mention but few. In plateau state, its target were productions of wide range of products like tomatoes, peppers, egg plants, cucumber, melons, lettuce and cabbage. The greenhouses and the open fields are also equipped with modern techniques, amongst others for irrigation. This vision was to make plateau state a self-sustaining agricultural state with increased farmers’ productivity, income and to attain a self–sufficient food producing state via sophisticated agricultural practices. The mission was to apply modern and scientific method of management and production, training and marketing as well as taking services nearer to the farmers at the grass root level (district and villages) (ASTC bulletin, 2012). ASTC has been set up to create self-sustaining agricultural growth, to provide food for the population and to give added value to produce. ASTC is a well branded and well established organization, engaged in promoting agriculture not just in plateau but in Nigeria at large. ASTC has focused on farmers with farmlands located within plateau state, and has expanded its tractor hire services to neighboring states. It has vast opportunities for clients with about 70% of plateau State’s population (3.2 million are rural dwellers) engaged in agricultural related activities (Wash, 2010). The Agricultural Services and Training Centres (ASTCs), was saddled with the responsibility of which accelerating agricultural productivity by providing diverse kind of services and training to staff members and farmers. On this note, a comprehensive farm centres were established in the three senatorial districts of the State, which were Kassa and Vom in Northern zone; Mangu in central zone and Shendam in the Southern zone, (Abdulsalam in the Agro Business Times, 2016) In addition, ASTCs was conceived in the year 2008, established in 2009. The centres at Kassa and Mangu were officially commissioned in October 2010 by the President Federal Republic of Nigeria, Dr. Goodluck E. Jonathan (Wash, 2010). Embedded in the agreement are four (4) commercial agricultural projects are:

- Dairy Farm and Milk Processing Plant – Butura, Bokkos LGA
- 300 ha open field irrigated crops – Butura, Bokkos LGA
- 30 ha open field vegetable farm – Yelwa, Shendam LGA
- 6.1 ha Greenhouses, Net houses, Tunnels – Vom, Jos South LGA


The specific goals of ASTC are to:

1. Transform the agricultural sector in the state from subsistence level to modernized and commercially oriented agriculture.
2. Create a self-sustained agricultural growth so as to provide food and raw materials for agro-based industries.
3. Strengthen the livelihood of small-scale farmers through increased production and value added by more effective marketing of their farm products
4. Provide diverse technical training for staff and farmers by upgrading their knowledge so as to raise their agricultural productivity and improve quality/value for their produce.


To make plateau state a self-sustaining agricultural state, increase farmers productivity and income and attain self-sufficiency in food production through modern agricultural practices.


1. Tractor services for cultivation
2. Cultivation services
3. Spraying
4. Harvesting
5. Agricultural Input Supply (seeds, fertilizers, chemicals)
6. Surveys
7. Training and seminars
8. Vegetables seedlings
9. Cool rooms
10. Marketing
11. Tractor maintenance
12. Soil laboratories analysis

Mission Statement

To improve farmers agricultural production through the use of improved technologies.

Components of the ASTC Project

Some of its components reported in ASTC bulletin, 2012 ranges from:

i. Inputs – Division: Improved Seeds and seedlings of maize, agro-chemical, fertilizers, tomato, cabbage, and pepper that are tested are made available for farmers. These are very important at boosting the quality of produce that would be harvested by farmers in Plateau State. This improved seeds and seedlings are usually able to tackle the problem of substandard and disease prone seedlings. The centre provides herbicides, cold storage, marketing facilities and host of others.
ii. Agricultural Extension Services Division: ASTC has put in place participatory and farmer friendly extension approach of passing innovation across to the farmers for the benefit of the entire Plateau State.
iii. Sustained Agricultural Research Division: ASTC focuses on the agricultural research system to provide valuable solution to the farmers ‘problems and to develop economically viable and location – specific technologies required to make farming more attractive and profitable.
iv. Marketing Division: This provide a highly structured marketing channel for farmers at any season.
v. Soil Testing Division: ASTC provides comprehensive soil testing services for farmers.
vi. Tractor Hiring Division: Owing to farmers’ limited financial resources, the division sets to provide a flexible arrangement for farmers in order to have access to tractors in order to actualize their dreams.

2.5 Empirical Studies on factors affecting Accessibility and Utilization of Agricultural Services

2.5.1 The Socioeconomic Factors

The Socio-economic attributes of farmers play a very important role in the adoption process and participation of farmers in any agricultural technology, in the sense that they influence their willingness to accept a particular change which could contribute significantly in raising farm productivity and eventually their standard of living. A number of empirical works abound within and outside the borders of Nigeria on factors influencing access and utilization of agricultural services by small-scale farmers. Few will be considered briefly along the line of socio-economic and institutional variables. Some of the most commonly used socio-economic variables include age, gender, marital status, level of education, farm size, and household size of the farmers. Age is viewed as one of the socio-economic features important to describe a farmer age gap or groupings relevant to the sample and the population. For example, in a study by Ajah (2014) on Maize Farmers in Abuja, it was found that the mean age of the farmers was thirty-nine (39) years which indicate that the farmers were still active and dynamic enough to undertake farming. Omotesho, et al., (2012) observed that age of the farmers’ varies among female vegetable Farmers who use Organic Manure in Cross River State, Nigeria. They held that young farmers are believed to be more flexible in their decision to adopt new practices that would improve their farm production and welfare. Furthermore, older farmers are, in general, less likely to adopt innovations than their younger counterparts in technological uptake in South West Nigeria. Similarly, Jiriko, et al., (2015) in the analysis use of Information Communication Technology (ICT) by Fish Farmers in Kaduna, asserts that young age group seems agile and responsive as they are ready to take risk in fish farming for their socio -economic development. However, Akpoko, (2007) found a positive and significant relationship among older farmers than younger farmers as regards adoption of farm tools and intermediate equipment in Semi-Arid Zones, Nigeria. Corroborating on the above, Filli, et al., (2015) examining ‘Factors Influencing Credits Access among Small Scale Fish Farmers in Adamawa State, Nigeria saw the probability for older fish farmers’ to access credit than the younger counterparts. This was because farmers that were older by age were more responsible and secured; having family with definite address than their younger counterparts. On Educational qualification, there is no gainsaying the fact that education also serves as a determinant or factor that influence access to and utilization of agricultural services. Education influences farmer’s information utilization. Agbamu, (2006) believed that educated people are expected to perform certain jobs and functions with higher efficiency and are also more likely to utilize information and new technologies in shorter period of time than uneducated people. A study on the Influence of Sources of Agricultural Information by Maize Farmers in Southern Borno, Nigeria, Bawa et al (2014) reveals that majority (79%) of the respondents were males while 21% of them were females. However, a contrary finding by Ekenta, et al., (2016) from a study on the role of gender in farming in Kabba Bonu observed that more of the younger women from 20 – 39 years (71.66%) were more engaged in agricultural activities in the study area against the younger males (53.33%). Also, the study reveals a significant difference between male and female in seeking and utilization information source by poultry producers; attributable to the prevailing socio-cultural values and norms males have freedom of mobility, participate in different meetings and trainings consequently have greater access to information. Marital status has implication for utilization of agricultural information and technologies (Idrisa, 2009). As Yahaya (2002) noted, women are less likely to participate because they have limited time to access or utilize available information due to pressure of household responsibilities. Married women in particular are by-passed in the transfer of improved agricultural technologies assuming that they will get the information through their husbands. Obidike ,(2011) concluded that male respondents (69.8%) are more involve in farming activities than women (30.2%) in Nsukka because of the tedious and onerous effort that requires enormous strength and energy which some women cannot be engaged. Kudi, et al., (2011) have observed in the Analysis of Adoption of improved Maize among Farmers in Kwara State Nigeria, a varying relationship among household size, level of education, farming experience, access to credit and yield of the improved maize varieties in the study area. The household size was significant at 5% level of probability with negative coefficient which indicates that there is a negative relationship between household size and adoption of improved maize technology. It was revealed that the larger the family size, the lower the level of adoption of improved maize varieties. Education of farmers has significant relationship with information utilization because educational level influences information utilization. Buttressing further, Chikezie, et al., (2012) in another study on Factors Influencing Rural Youth Adoption of Cassava Recommended Production Practices in Onu-Imo Local Government Area of Imo State, Nigeria, revealed that education had positive implication as it hasten the adoption of farm technologies among farmers in the study area. In a study however by Atedhor (2015) on Strategies for Agricultural Adaptation to Climate Change in Kogi State, Nigeria observed a fairly high proportion of respondents with no formal education that may serve as an indicator of agricultural vulnerability and a low capacity to adapt to climate change in the study area. In the same vein, Omonijo et al., (2014) revealed from a study on Impacts of Agricultural Development Programme (ADP) on Rural Dwellers of Isan-Ekiti in Nigeria indicated the educational background of respondents, in which illiterates represent the majority. With regards to farming experiences, Oyeyinka, et al., (2013) reported in a study on utilization of agricultural programme in Oyo among farmers concluded that majority of the respondents (42.7%) had farming experience of 11-15years while a few (8.0%) had a farming experience of 1-5years; hence farm experience tends to influence farmers participation in improved agricultural activities. In terms of farm size, Fawole and Tijani (2013) posited in a study in Ogun State where fairly large percentage (44.7%) cultivate 1-2 hectares, 28% cultivating 3-4 hectares, while 5-6 hectares were cultivated by few (17.4%) respondents; hence farm size tends to influence farmers participation in improved agricultural activities. Regarding annual income-either on farm or off-farm is one of the important factors determining access to and utilization of agricultural services and different improved technologies. Therefore, almost all empirical studies reviewed show the effect of farm income on household’s adoption decision to be positive and significant. The income obtained from off-farm activities helps farmers to purchase farm outputs. Some past empirical studies shows that the influence of off-farm income on adoption varies from one study to the other. However, majority of the studies reported positive contribution of off-farm income to households’ adoption of improved agricultural technologies.


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Women in Agricultural Production in Nigeria. Participation in Agricultural Services and Training Center (ASTC) Activities
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women, agricultural, production, nigeria, participation, services, training, center, astc, activities
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Godfrey Onuwa (Author), 2021, Women in Agricultural Production in Nigeria. Participation in Agricultural Services and Training Center (ASTC) Activities, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/1183696


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