WOMEN LABOUR UTILIZATION IN CROP PRODUCTION IN ABIA STATE, NIGERIA

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ABSTRACT The main aim of the study was to analyze women labour utilization in crop production in Abia State. The specific objectives included (i) identify specific farming operations that utilize women  labour in the study area; (ii) compare the relative contribution of women and men to total labour utilization in different levels of farm operation in the study area; (iii) identify factors that affect the participation of women in different levels of farm operations; (iv) determine the effect of women labour utilization on the value of farm output ; and (v) identify  and analyze the constraints facing women farmers in crop production in the study area. Using multi-stage sampling technique, the study area was zoned into three using the existing zoning arrangement of the Abia State Agricultural Development Programme (ADP). Nine (9) rural Local Government Areas (LGA) were randomly selected from the Zones. From the LGAs, 18 communities were randomly selected and from the communities, 36 villages were randomly selected. From these villages, 108 households having women farmers were randomly selected. A set of structured questionnaire was administered on the relevant women and men farmers in the household to obtain required information. Data were analyzed using descriptive statistics, multiple regression analysis, t-test, likert rating scale and multinomial logit model. Results showed that among twelve crop production operations identified in 2010 farming season, greater proportion of all the operations were executed by the women farmers e.g. harvesting 70%, planting 63%, weeding 60% and transplanting 58%. The men and hired labour were used for tedious operations like ridging and bush clearing. The multinomial logit result showed that the participation of women belonging to large families were less in clearing and cultivation. Their level of income had a negative relationship with clearing. The multiple regression analysis showed that greater number of variables like age, farm experience and household size were significant and have positive effect on output at 5 % level of significance. The multiple regression analysis showed that the value of Coefficient of determination otherwise known as R-square (R2) was 0.67.  Despite the high level of participation of women farmers in crop production, they still face unique constraints which adversely affected their ability to increase food production. The identified problems included lack of finance, lack of improved inputs, lack of storage facilities among others. Poor implementation of agricultural projects and policies, lack of government commitment and intervention programmes not directed to the farmers needs were the major reasons why previous intervention measures did not achieve much success. The study therefore recommended that adequate finance should be provided by government to support women labour requirements. Government should ensure implementation of agricultural programmes by monitoring and evaluating them from the beginning to the end by independent consultants. The problem of illiteracy among rural women can be overcome if extension services extend their training to the rural women.