PROJECT TOPIC- DETERMINANTS OF WOMEN’S PARTICIPATION IN SMALL
1.1 Background of the study
The food processing industry contributes considerably to most African national economies. According to Akpan (2007), food processing accounts for 40 percent of the value-added by all manufacturing industries. They supply the local markets with low-cost consumer goods, add value to agricultural produce, contribute to economic growth through diversification, contribute to import substitution, and to foreign exchange earnings (as non-traditional export products) and increase the technical and management skills of the rural population. These activities which are mostly small or informal enterprises are a major source of employment to women (Berger & Byvnie, 2003).
The importance of food processing is better appreciated when we realize that agriculture which gives food and employment is a seasonal activity. With limited storage facilities, if our farm produce are not processed, may not last to serve the food needs of the people when it is outside the farming season. Beside, those that engage in agriculture full time will also be unemployed outside the farming season (Fabayo,2009). Available estimates indicate that in the case of perishable commodities such as fruits, vegetables and fish, as much as 50 percent of production may deteriorate and may be lost due to complete lack of/or inadequate facilities for appropriate storage ( Feenstra ,2002).
This is particularly so in the harvest period when producers may not be able to store all the harvest. Food processing helps to preserve food, reduce post-harvest losses and to extend the availability of food products over a longer period.
In this way, the hunger gap is reduced between the harvest period and the lean period when prices of food shoot up and put many people at nutritional risk (Ukeje, 2003).
In developing countries, some 60% of the potential working populations earn their living in the informal sector. The informal sector is the part of an economy that is not included in the gross national product (GNP), unlike the formal economy. The sector is the only way to earn a living for people who are self-employed outside the formal economy and not on anyone’s payroll. Informal economic activity is any exchange of goods or services involving economic value between people outside the scope of ‘normal and formal ‘business.
With the contraction of formal sector jobs, the informal sector has become a “safe haven” for women because of its low capital requirements and ease of entry. For the majority of women, participation in the informal sector is a survival strategy as they take over aspects of household maintenance that men can no longer afford, although they tend to face stiff competition from new entrants, including men who have lost or cannot obtain formal sector employment.
Women have limited access to critical resources like education, land, technology, and credit. However, as Berger and Byvinie (2003) asserts although the representation of women in the informal sector is higher than that of men, the participation of women is underestimated. This
is because women’s activities, which are often excluded from national census of production surveys and are unaccounted for in the calculation of the gross national product. Women’s activities in the informal sector enable them to effectively combine their productive and reproductive roles because hours of work are flexible, permitting them to care for their children and family. Women’s increasing participation in the informal sector is also due to the global recession, and the current economic hardship in Nigeria.
More than before, women are under increasing pressure to contribute to household income; this is even truer of women whose husbands have been laid off by the formal sector as a result of rationalization, privatization of public enterprises, and cuts in government spending. The numbers of entrants to the informal sector have swelled because of unemployment, as well as those seeking part time employment to augment their regular incomes.
Food Processing and Preservation is concerned with the transformation of raw animal, vegetable, or marine materials into tasty, nutritious, and safe food products (Akpan, 2007). It also provides a means of creating products that are convenient for consumers, like those that are ready to eat or require minimal preparation and cooking. Combining food processing and preservation techniques with modern distribution networks makes seasonal crops available year-round.
Modernization of native Nigerian technology is a must if the nation is to overcome her food problems. Appropriate technology is important because it permits the optimum utilisation of available resources and improvements in food products that are peculiarly Nigerian. One of the greatest challenges facing food scientists/technologists in Nigeria today is the upgrading of the traditional technologies of food processing and reservation. In most cases, the traditional methods of food processing and preservation in Nigeria remain at the empirical level.
They are still rather crude, are not standardized, and are not based on sound scientific principles making them, in their present form, unsuitable to large-scale industrial production (Satta, 2002). The processes are often laborious and time consuming and invariably the quality of the products require substantial improvements. Since women are largely involved in traditional food processing, reducing the drudgery associated with traditional food processing operations, through the introduction of simple machines, would make life a lot easier for women with attendant benefits for the well-being of the family and society at large. In upgrading these technologies, the food scientist or technologist is faced with the challenge of modernizing the processes and equipment while still retaining the traditional attributes of the food products crucial to consumer acceptance.
In Enugu South area of Enugu State, teeming populations of women play dynamic roles in agricultural food production and preservation as their necessary primary occupations and for economic development. Women constitute overwhelming population of those who are involved in agricultural produce processing and preservation as against the men who focus more on artisan, subsistent farming and civil service occupations. (ENADEP, 2013).
These women are concerned as great apostles of household nutritional requirement of diets, management and income generation (Dianco-Adetayo, 2000). Oyekanmi (2004) stated that the reason for the greater focus of women rather than men are primarily because of a set of social relations with material base that enables men to dominate women in Nigerian society.
According to Adubi and Jibowo (2006), women are invisible workforce and the unacknowledged backbone of the family and therefore need to be empowered. However, given the increasing demands for processed food in the diets of most households in Enugu State, Nigeria and Enugu South area in particular, the processing situation seems to be low relative to demand. Under multi-sectoral approach to food security, economic empowerment and poverty reduction, food processing has many challenges.
PROJECT TOPIC- DETERMINANTS OF WOMEN’S PARTICIPATION IN SMALL
1.2 Statement of the problem
Women in the labour force in Nigeria generally have low participation in the formal sector, many of them are left only with the option of self employment in the informal sector. Although the representation of women in the informal sector is higher than that of men, the participation of women is underestimated Berger & Byvinie, 2003) This is because women’s activities, which are often excluded from national Census of Production Surveys, are unaccounted for in the calculation of the gross national product. Even in the informal sector, women mostly operate in a hostile environment and are ignored as far as public policy is concernerd.
They are often seen as illegal traders to be harrassed by law enforcement agents, these women have limited access to other resources, such as credit and technology. Inspite of these challenges, most of the women persevere and continue, Even within the informal sector, they are confined to microenterprise, which includes trading and technology-related occupations, such as, food milling, and small-scale food manufacturing. Insufficient power supply is also a major challenge in small scale food processing industry.
The study is thus interested in investigating what sustains women’s continued participation in small scale food processing enterprises inspite of the odds they face. It is important to address this issue because of the high labour-absorption capacity of the informal sector and the need to increase the productivity of technological inputs to stimulate women’s employment opportunities, productivity, and income generation. The slow progress in understanding the dynamics of traditional food processing and preservation techniques in Nigeria contributes to food and nutrition insecurity in the country (Perry, 2001).
Simply put, low-cost, traditional food processing techniques are essential links in the food production cycle that are required to achieving food secuirty, household wellbeing and rural development. This study seeks to understand sustaining mechanism of women’s contribution to Nigeria’s informal food processing sub sector. Due to the high labour-absorption capacity of the food processing enterprise there is need to have a deeper understanding of the food processing chain so as to increase the level of stimulation of employment opportunities for women especially since Nigerian women still suffer a lot of constraints and inhibitions which militate against their the formal sector of Nigeria’s economy.
1.3 Objectives of the study
The main purpose of the study is to investigate the determinant factors of women participation in small scale food processing enterprise in Enugu South Local Government area.
Specifically, this study intended to:
i. determine the factors that influence women’s participation in food processing enterprise in Enugu south local government area.
ii. evaluate the specific factors that affect the business performance of women in small scale food processing enterprises.
iii. find out constraints faced by the small scale food processing enterprises in Enugu south local government area.
iv. ascertain the factors that have continued to sustain women in food processing business.