Culture, Economics, Politics

Agriculture – Exploring The Potential Of Women In Agriculture In Nigeria

Nmesoma Okwudili


July 15, 2023

According to the Federal Ministry of Agriculture & Rural Development, women operate farms and supply labour, making up 75% of the farming population in Nigeria. Despite making up a sizeable section of the farming population, official and traditional regulations limit the opportunities available to women in agriculture. In Nigeria, ethnic groupings differ in terms of how much gender participation there is in agricultural output. With some obvious differences in their activities, Nigerian women farmers coexist with their male counterparts on the farm. The men often carry out the laborious duties, such as clearing ground and cutting down trees, gathering and burning brush, and building ridges, while the women work on planting. 

Women have long played an important role in agriculture, and their participation is especially noticeable in Nigeria. The agricultural sector in Nigeria is an important part of the economy, employing a large number of the population and ensuring the country’s food security. Women’s participation in this sector is crucial because they are responsible for a variety of agricultural activities, from planting and harvesting to processing and marketing.

In both commercial and subsistence farming in Nigeria, women hold a variety of agricultural jobs. They support the farming, processing, marketing, and storing of food. Small-scale farming is mainly carried out by women, who frequently grow grains including rice, cassava, and maize. Additionally, they work in the fishery, poultry farming, and livestock husbandry. Women are in charge of running family farms in rural areas and making sure their homes have access to food.

Women in Nigerian agriculture face several hurdles that limit their full involvement and potential effect, despite their enormous contributions. Limited access to land and resources, cultural and societal norms, a lack of extension services and information, and post-harvest losses and value addition are among the hurdles. These barriers impede women’s capacity to prosper in agriculture and limit their economic empowerment.

Women in agriculture often face restrictions on their ability to own or control land for farming, which makes it difficult for them to expand their businesses or invest in long-term agricultural ventures. Additionally, women frequently lack access to credit, agricultural inputs, modern farming techniques, and technologies, which reduces their productivity and prevents them from adopting sustainable and effective farming practices.

Norms of tradition and society also prevent women from working in agriculture in Nigeria. Women’s participation in decision-making processes, access to educational and professional opportunities, and ownership of productive assets may be restricted by traditional gender roles and cultural norms. Women frequently experience discrimination and unfair treatment, which prevents them from utilising their abilities and potential in the agricultural industry to the fullest.

Another issue is the dearth of agricultural knowledge and extension services available to women farmers. To increase productivity and profitability, it is essential to have access to knowledge about better agricultural techniques, crop diversity, pest and disease management, and market information. However, women farmers frequently lack access to such services, which limits their capacity to embrace contemporary agricultural practices and make educated decisions.

Post-harvest losses and value addition are also significant challenges faced by women in Nigerian agriculture. Insufficient storage facilities, inadequate processing and value addition infrastructure, and limited market linkages result in significant post-harvest losses and reduced profitability for women farmers. Addressing these challenges would not only reduce food waste but also enhance the income-generating potential of women farmers.

As strategic plan for attaining sustainable development in Nigeria, empowering women in agriculture goes beyond issues of gender equality. The necessity of empowering women in the agriculture industry is emphasised for a number of reasons. For starters, it helps increase households’ and communities’ access to healthy food and nutrition. Women can increase agricultural output, diversify crops, and encourage balanced diets when they have more access to resources and decision-making authority.

Secondly, empowering women in agriculture can aid in the eradication of poverty and the expansion of the economy. Women can boost their incomes, create jobs, and promote economic growth in rural regions when they have access to land, credit, training, and market opportunities. As they make investments in areas that promote development like education, healthcare, and other industries, women’s economic empowerment in agriculture has a knock-on effect on their families, communities, and the national economy.

For environmental sustainability, it is equally essential to empower women in agriculture. Women are frequently the principal stewards of their surroundings and have a profound awareness of natural resource management. Sustainable agricultural methods, like agroecology, organic farming, and water conservation, can be encouraged by empowering women in agriculture. A more robust and sustainable agricultural system may result from women’s participation in resource management decision-making processes.

Furthermore, gender equality and the advancement of society depend on the participation of women in agriculture. Women can challenge traditional conventions, raise their social standing, and contribute to the general growth of their communities when they have equal access to resources and decision-making authority. Strong women in agriculture can act as role models for other women and girls, encouraging them to seek jobs and possibilities in the industry.

Several methods must be put into place in order to fully capitalise on the potential of women in Nigerian agriculture. First and foremost, initiatives and regulations should be implemented to protect women’s rights to land and resources. This covers attempts to equip women farmers with modern farming inputs, tools, and technology, as well as reforms to land tenure that guarantee women have equal access to land.

It is critical to address cultural and societal conventions that limit women’s involvement in agriculture. This can be accomplished by awareness campaigns, sensitisation activities, and educational programs that support gender equality and question conventional gender norms. Another crucial component of empowering women is giving them the chance to learn about, practice, and receive training in agricultural management and techniques.

For women farmers, access to extension services and agricultural information must be improved. More extension offices should be established, women should be targeted for training programs, and digital platforms should be used to communicate market and agricultural knowledge. Women farmers will be able to boost their profitability and lower post-harvest losses by improving infrastructure for value addition and market links.

Partnerships between the public, non-profit, and corporate sectors are essential for empowering women in agriculture. These alliances may make it easier to provide the necessary financial aid, technical support, and capacity-building initiatives for women. In order to ensure that their opinions and experiences are taken into account, it is also crucial to include women in the creation and implementation of policies and initiatives linked to agriculture.

As a result, women are essential to Nigerian agriculture and help provide food security, economic growth, environmental sustainability, and social advancement. But they run into a number of obstacles that prevent them from reaching their full potential. Not only is it a question of justice and equality to empower women in agriculture, but it is also a calculated move toward Nigeria’s sustainable growth. Women may grow in the agriculture industry and contribute to the advancement and prosperity of the whole country by addressing the impediments and putting in place specific plans.


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