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PROJECT TOPIC- SOCIO-ECONOMIC FACTORS AFFECTING WOMEN PARTICIPATION ON AGRICULTURAL COOPERATIVES IN ABAKALIKI LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREA OF EBONYI STATE

PROJECT TOPIC- SOCIO-ECONOMIC FACTORS AFFECTING WOMEN PARTICIPATION ON AGRICULTURAL COOPERATIVES IN ABAKALIKI LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREA OF EBONYI STATE

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1.1 Background statement

Cooperatives have been regarded as one of the main institutional machineries for empowering the economically weak members of the society. Cooperatives are able to promote economic and social development because they are commercial organizations that follow a broader set of values than those associated purely with the profit motive. Cooperatives play an important role in job creation by directly providing self-employment to members and service provision for non-members.

Enterprise development and particularly the promotion of small and medium enterprises, has been adopted as a prerequisite and a strategy for job creation and economic growth in a large number of countries (Essien, 2000). Despite the availability of cooperative societies and efforts of government at all levels, it appears that a significant proportion of rural women are either unaware of the existence of such co-operative societies or are lacking in the basic socioeconomic characteristics that form the prerequisite for participation in such activities (Idrisa et al., 2007).

In some cultures, women are restricted from conducting business independently or without their husband,s consent. This poses a serious challenge to participation in cooperative activities. Even though in some cases women , legal rights may be stipulated in a cooperative they may not necessarily be enforced or they may be superseded by customary law. It is in line with this view that Ashanti (1993) observed that lack of social, economic and legal rights explains women’s low participation in cooperative decision-making and leadership positions.

Besides cultural issues, women, especially in developing countries, are confronted by formidable constraints that block their active participation in cooperatives most especially, the traditional role of women in society and the prevalent misconception that women’s reproductive and domestic responsibilities constitute their main role. However, Eboh (1988), recognized that despite women‟s major responsibilities in the household health and nutrition, women‟s role in agriculture cover all facts of agribusiness including food production, livestock production, fishery as well as farm management.

The contribution of women in agriculture is poorly documented in Nigeria. This largely because women carry out activities that are unpaid (informal non market activities) such as domestic work care giving day care, preparation of meals, working on husbands’ farm and family farm apart from own farm, disposing of garbage, market and shopping etc. (FOS, 1999; NLSS, 2004). These informal and non -market activities that women perform is not officially accounted for in the Systems of National Accounts (SNA) thereby undervaluing their contribution and overlooking the impact of these activities on the overall development of the economy.

This is due to the social constructs and cultural inclinations of the society in which they belong as well as those functions imposed on them by virtue of the fact that they are female. The significant contribution of women to food production and process has been empirically reported in various micro level studies in Nigeria (Afolami and Ajani 1996; Ani, 2003). The studies revealed that they are fully engaged in a wide range of other off-farm and household activities.

Women play a major role in the production of food crops and also undertake activities such as trade to earn cash income. Female farmers are associated with traditional subsistence and low- yield food crops, due to their lack of influence and their inability to access agricultural innovations (Ani, 2003). There may be differences in agreement as to the extent of the involvement of women in agricultural production, but there is a consensus that women are important participants in all sub-sectors of agriculture, namely crops, livestock, fisheries and agro- forestry.

Bzugu and Kwaghe (1997) reported that women form the highest proportion of the economically active population in rural Nigeria and play an important role in agricultural activities in subsistence food production, where they contribute an estimated 60-80 percent of the total labour used. The women contribute significantly to both the economic growth and national development (Ajayi, 1997).

Women form the majority in the rural areas, and are involved at all stages of agricultural enterprises, responsible for about 80% of all food items produced (Njar, 1990; Mgbada 2002; Rahman, 2004) and 70 percent of food production and 50 percent of the domestic food storage in the country (Ritche, 1977). In addition, they form an active and reserve labour force but they rarely own the means of productions (Rahman ,2004) suggesting that the position of women in agricultural development cannot be over emphasized.

In most sub-Saharan Africa, women are the backbone of the rural economy with about 80 percent of economically active women being employed in agriculture and accounting for 70 percent of food production in Africa (Manu, 1998). Although there is growing recognition of women’s contributions within Africa and the international community, not only in their households but also in the food production systems and national economies, this recognition has not yet translated into significantly improved access to resources or increased decision making power. The dynamic role that women play in the social and economic lives of their communities is not reflected when it comes to their participation and leadership in different communal organizations. For example, a study by Weinberger and Jütting (2000) in analyzing membership and participation in local development groups finds an obvious exclusion of the majority of the poor, and especially women, from such groups. They conclude that this is mostly due to the fact that in most developing countries women do not have access to land ownership, credit, or information (ACDI/VOCA 2003)

Women’s participation in agricultural cooperatives is also generally very low (FAO 1995). This is especially the case in developing countries where cultural and religious influences make it difficult for women to participate in activities outside of their households. The prevailing culture and social pressure make it difficult for women to play an active role within their communities or become members of agricultural cooperatives. Although there are few empirical researches that are have been done to underpin the socio-economic factors that contribute to the low representation of women in cooperatives, some of the challenges that are indicated in studies include existing traditions that perceive negotiation and handling money matters as the responsibilities of men only, illiteracy of women, and a prevailing belief that women possess inferior abilities.

Low level of women education is one of the most important factors that explain the prevailing low women participation in cooperatives. In a paper done by Idrisa, Sulumbe and Mohammed (2007) in Nigeria, the most significant socio-economic factor that determines women’s participation in agricultural cooperatives is their level of education. Women who have attained a higher level of education are more likely to be members of cooperatives.

Another factor is the structure of the cooperatives themselves. According to FAO (1995) cooperative laws often discriminate women by demanding that the head of family attends the cooperatives meeting. Even if the women are the head of a family, it is not considered as a sufficient reason for her participation. Coupled with this is also a requirement by most cooperatives that land owners be 5 members of cooperatives.

This particularly discriminates women since often times household land is registered in the name of the man instead of the woman. Literature is replete on the effect of cooperative scheme on women‟s livelihood leading to poverty reduction, through asset creation associated with a series of loan financed investments, higher income that will help women to better perform their reproductive role as brokers of health, nutritional, and educational status of other household members (Cheng and Nguyen (2000); Gurgand et al., (1994); Shane, (2004); Holocomb and Xu, (1997).

Cooperatives have long been reorganized to play important roles in society that translate into the improvement of living conditions of their members, particularly the low-income earning cadres of the population, as well as the society at large. Being voluntary, democratic and self controlled business associations, cooperative offer the institutional frame through which local communities gain control over the productive activities from which they derive their livelihoods(Ofeil,2055).

Participating members tap the energies of group effort and economies of scale to engage in economic activities that they would not have otherwise been able to carry out on their own, thereby enhancing their chances of improving their living conditions. It is for this reason that cooperatives continue to be promoted in Africa and other parts of the developing world as some of the preferred instruments for poverty alleviation.

PROJECT TOPIC- SOCIO-ECONOMIC FACTORS AFFECTING WOMEN PARTICIPATION ON AGRICULTURAL COOPERATIVES IN ABAKALIKI LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREA OF EBONYI STATE

1.2 Problem Statement

Cooperatives have been regarded as one of the main institutional machineries for empowering the economically weak members of the society. Despite the availability of cooperative societies and efforts of government at all levels, it appears that a significant proportion of rural women are either unaware of the existence of such co-operative societies or are lacking in the basic socioeconomic characteristics that form the prerequisite for participation in such activities. It is based on this that the study examined the socio economic factors affecting women participation in agricultural cooperative societies in Abakaliki Local Government Area of Ebonyi State

1.3 Objectives

The broad objectives of the study is analysis of the socio-economic factors affecting women participation on agricultural cooperatives in Abakaliki Local Government area of Ebonyi state

The specific objectives are to:

  1. describe the socio-economic characteristics of women farmers in the study area
  2. analyze influences of the socio-economic characteristics of women on their Participation in cooperative activities in the study area
  • identify the types of cooperative societies within the study area
  1. describe cooperative societies’ performances in the area
  2. determine major constraints facing women participation in cooperative societies

1.4 Hypothesis

The socio-economic characteristics of women has no significant influence on their Participation in cooperative activities in the study area

1.5 Justification

The economic justification for the formation of agricultural activities was strongly endorsed by literature, The conceptual and empirical sources single out counteracting concentration to market power (as probably the most cited economic justification for cooperative actions), improving cost efficiency by lowering transaction costs, pooling risk reducing feature that cooperative can provide for their members and overcoming an absence of market service (Krivokapic-Skoko, 2002).

This study is further justified by the fact that farmers cooperatives have been identified as agents of rural development, This among other factors account for the federal government adaptation of the cooperative revitalization programme (C.R.P) as one of the tools for reengineering the agricultural sector in order to achieve the goal of food security, rural as well as national development (Ruma, 2009).

It is expected that this study will reveal whether the cooperative societies are achieving the purpose for which they were set up, that is , improving cost efficiency by lowering transaction cost, achieving the benefit of economies of size in providing inputs and marketing of agricultural produce, increasing market power and coordination, achieving better prices and increased income.

Finally, all the three tiers of government, students and other researchers will by this research be equipped with up-to-date information on the economic performance of farmer cooperative societies in Abakaliki Local government area of Ebonyi state and Nigeria in general.

PROJECT TOPIC- SOCIO-ECONOMIC FACTORS AFFECTING WOMEN PARTICIPATION ON AGRICULTURAL COOPERATIVES IN ABAKALIKI LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREA OF EBONYI STATE

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