The study was designed to investigate the gender and resource use efficiency in cocoyam production in Abia State, Nigeria. Socio-economic characteristics of the farmers were determined as well as the production problems affecting the farmers in the study Area. The study presents the results of analysis of data collected on 160 male and female cocoyam farmers across two Agricultural zones. A multi-stage randomized sampling technique was used to select the zones, blocks, circles and contact farmers Descriptive statistical tools such as percentages, frequencies and mean were used in analyzing farmer’s socio-economic characteristics and production problems. The result showed that women constituted a greater percentage (68.75%) of those involved in cocoyam production in the state, which comprises those within who the age range of 41 to 50 years. The Maximum Likelihood Estimation (MLE) technique was used in estimating the technical efficiency and determinants of efficiency of male and female farmers with the Cobb-Douglas production function as the lead model. The result of estimation of technical efficiency using the Cobb- Douglas stochastic function showed that the coefficients of male and female farmers for the production variables used were all positive. Cocoyam setts, labour and fertilizer use were significant while capital inputs were not significant for female cocoyam farmers. The result indicates that socio-economic conditions influenced technical efficiency of both categories of farmers. The coefficients of determinants of efficiency used were all positive except farm size that was negative and significant for both male and female cocoyam farmers while age, level of education, extension contact, knowledge index were all positive and significant for male farmers while other variables were not significant. Test of allocative efficiency revealed that none of defined farmer groups achieved absolute allocative efficiency. Male farmers underutilized fertilizer and over utilized other inputs in production while female farmers over utilized all the inputs. This result suggests that there exists the possibility of increasing output under existing level of technology through the use of lower levels of all inputs by male and female farmers except fertilizer for males. There is also scope to use higher levels of fertilizer for the male farmers. The result shows the mean output/kg of 2,450.20kg and 2,519.09kg with an average net profit of N62, 592.87 and N88, 378.12 and BCR of N1.85 and N2.16 for the male and female farmers respectively. This implies that cocoyam production was profitable in the study area. The results also showed the elasticities of productions of male to be 0.43246 and that of female to be 1.1987, this shows a decreasing return to scale for male cocoyam farmers and increasing return for female cocoyam farmers. Finally, the survey revealed that most of the farmers (male and female) encountered problems of root rot diseases at 90% and 90.91% respectively.
1.1: Background information
In Nigeria of about 140 million people, men constitute about 50.4% and women 49.6%(N.P.C, 2006).Both gender are responsible for producing nation’s food and one of the major problems confronting mankind in recent times is food crisis (Ndukwu et al 2010).Gender has often been misunderstood as being about the promotion of women only, but it focuses on the relationship between men and women, their roles, access to and control over resources, division of labour and needs. Men and Women are affected differently in their operation in factors like markets and socio- economic environments. Women are more constrained than their men counterparts in terms of access to credits, agricultural inputs, and information technology and so on. Some crop are men’s, like yam production, while others like sweet potatoes and cocoyam production are regarded as women’s especially in the southeastern Nigeria (Ndukwu et al 2010). Dimelu et al (2009) reported that women are involved in crop production generally and cocoyam production in particular
Agriculture is the largest single sector in the Nigeria economy, providing food, income and employment for sustainable livelihood of both the rural and urban population (CBN, 2003). Agriculture is the largest non-oil export earner and the largest employer of labour accounting for 88% of the non-oil foreign exchange earnings and 70% of the active labour force of the population. Food crops constitute the largest component of the crops sub-sector of the Nigeria’s agriculture (CBN,2003). Root and tuber crops which are among the most important groups of the staple foods in many tropical African countries(Osagie,1998) Constitutes the largest source of calories for Nigeria population(Olaniyan et al 2001)
Cocoyam originated from Asia and about forty (40) species are mostly grown in West Africa (Asumugha and Mbanasor, 2002).Cocoyam,both Xanthosoma species and Colocasia species belong to the family (Aracea).The cocoyam specie colocasia esculata in sub-Sahara Africa was introduced to this continent one thousand or more years ago from South East Asia while cocoyam specie Xanthosoma Mafafa was introduced more recently from tropical America (11TA, 1992; FAO, 2005a).
Nigeria is the largest producer of cocoyam in the world, accounting for about 37% of the total world output (FAO, 2007b; NRCRI, 2009). From 0.73 million metric tones in 1990, cocoyam production in Nigeria rose to 3.89million metric tones in 2000 (Ojiako et al; 2007;) and further by 30.30% to 5.068 million metric tones in 2007 (FAO, 2007b). Further estimate in Nigeria, showed a figure of 5,387 million metric tones out of 11.77 million metric tones of world output of cocoyam per annum since 2008 (FAO STAT, 2010).
Cocoyam ranks third in importance after cassava and yam among the root and tubers crops cultivated in Nigeria (see Appendix 1) (FAO, 2005a, National Breau of Statistics, 2006, Okoye et al; 2008). Cocoyam both Xanthosoma sp and colocasia sp is an important staple food in the plant family, cultivated in South Eastern and South Western part of Nigeria (Onyenweaku et al, 2005; Ojiakor et al, 2007; Chukwu et al, 2009). It is a food security crop variously grown by resource poor farmers especially women who often intercrop it with yam, maize, plantain, banana, vegetable (Ikwelle et al, 2003).
Cocoyam is highly medicinal for diabetic patients because it has low starch content, is easily digestible and contains protein more than the other root tubers. The leaves of colocosia esculenta have been shown to be a rich source of folic acid, ribo flavin, vitamin A and C, calcium and phosphate (Arene and Ene, 1987). The leaves are consumed because they are rich in protein and vitamins while the root is rich in carbohydrates and minerals (Duru and Uma, 2002). Cocoyam is a useful cover crop and the corms are ready to harvest in 8 – 12 months (Uguru, 1996). The corms and cormels are boiled, baked and tubers are sometimes ground to produce paste for use in stews and soups. Also in Southeast Asia, cocoyam leaves are consumed as a green or dry vegetables and the stem is either cooked or eaten on its own or together with other dietary staples or pounded into flour (Serem et al; 2008).The dried peeled corms are grinded to produce flour which is considered to be as palatable as cassava flour but more nutritious (Igbokwe, 2004).
In the traditional farming system women “own” and plant cocoyam after the men have planted their yam, hence it is regarded as a women’s crop (Igbokwe, 2004). As a result of male out migration into urban and semi urban areas, certain task that were traditionally done by men (e.g. ridging) are now being done by the women folk. Thus the gender based differentiation of farm tasks appears to be disappearing. Some scholars believe and argue that majority of the small scale farmers who produce the bulk of Nigeria’s agricultural output especially cocoyam are women. It is still their contention that women also play key roles in storage preservation, processing, utilization and local marketing of agricultural produce (Dixon, 1983; Ekumankama and Ekumankama, 1996). Females constitute the greater percentage of the Nigerian population in the rural areas (Musa, 1987)
Given the importance of cocoyam and the fact that its cultivation is receeding, it becomes compelling to examine the production methods, practices and resource inputs for its production methods, practices and resource inputs for its production in other to identify opportunities for improvements in terms of cultivation and efficient use of available resources.
Government research effort under cocoyam expansion programme had led to development of several technologies aimed at adding value to cocoyam production (NRCRI, 1999). Also, dissemination of the improved technologies as well as advocacy supports for overall development of cocoyam are effective strategies for optimizing utilization of the abundant potentials associated with cocoyam in Nigeria.
3.1 Problem Statement
The resource allocation to cocoyam is significantly low when compared to other crops such as yam and cassava. Technical difficulties involved in managing cocoyam, especially the post harvest losses usually not encountered in the rival crops have made cocoyam comparatively less attractive especially the male farmers thereby affecting productivity (Ekwe et al; 1999). Cocoyam production in South Eastern Nigeria is threatened by some factors such as the cocoyam root, not blight complex, high cost of labour, which is almost entirely manual (Okoye et al; 2008). Also the preference of other crops to seriously cocoyam in household production, and consumption decision became fundamental reasons for its neglect and under utilization. Empirical findings of earlier research like (Dimelu et al; 2008) on cocoyam have reported reasons such as high cost of labour, disease outbreak etc. for decline in output of cocoyam, none of these studies tried to explain output decline from point of view of gendered use of production resources nor did they consider that the people (women) who are left to carry on its production might have some gender-related constraints in resource utilization which could affect entry into cocoyam farming as well as productivity.
Hence, there is need to sustain the level of production through productivity and resource use studies, agricultural production in Nigeria has always been seen as dominated by men and this assumption undermines the women involvement in agricultural production. Okoye et al (2007) pointed out that women farmers for several years have been the pillars of cocoyam production. Unfortunately as noted by Durno and Stuart (2005), they are not recognized as farmers and are not critically involved in the process of farm problem analysis, planning and decision making, or provided with the training, credit and support they need. They equally noted that development opportunities are usually offered to those who are better off and better educated, majority of whom are men. Many extension programmes are focused on the “family headed” that is the husband as women are considered as helpers in the farm.
The presumption is that women are less economically efficient than men in Agricultural production.
The problems of this study therefore are to analyze the possible ways in which equitable gender involvement and resource use will help increase output in cocoyam production in Abia State.
In view of this forgoing, this study attempted to answer the following questions:
- to what extent are men and women involved/engaged is cocoyam production?
- do women have access to the same quantity and quality of resources as men in Cocoyam production?
- does being a woman influence how resources are applied for cocoyam production?
- how efficiently do women farmers employ resources for cocoyam production?
- what are the sources of inefficiency in women’s use of cocoyam resources?
1.3 Objective of the study
The broad objective of this study was to determine by gender the resource use efficiency in cocoyam production in Abia State.
The specific objectives are to:
(i) examine the socio-economic characteristics of cocoyam farmers in Abia State (ii) estimate and compare the mean output of men and women cocoyam farmers.
- estimate and analyse the technical and allocative efficiencies of cocoyam farmers by gender
- compare the technical and returns to scale of the farmers based on gender.
- determine the profitability of cocoyam farming by gender.
- identify the major problems/constraints faced by the men and women cocoyam farmers.
- Recommendation based on the research findings
1.4 Statement of Hypotheses
The following hypotheses were tested:
HO1 There is no significant difference in technical and allocative efficiency of the cocoyam in the use of farm resources across gender
HO2 There is no significant difference in the mean output of male and female cocoyam farmers HO3 Cocoyam production is not profitable in the study area
1.5 Justification of the Study
Improving cocoyam productivity, achieving self sufficiency in cocoyam production and other food crops has been a major concern to scholars and policy makers as well as farmers themselves, majority of who live in the rural areas (Okoye et al; 2007). This is more worrisome considering the fact that Nigeria is endowed with rich and abundant cocoyam growing environment and hence has the potential to greatly increase its cocoyam production.
Women are actively involved in agricultural production in Nigeria, In Sub Saharan Africa, women grow 80 percent of the food destined to the Kitchen (Mamman, 1994). They play a variety of roles in agriculture as farmers in their own rights, working in their husbands farms and are increasing entering employment in the production of all kinds of crops for sale. Akanji (1999) pointed out that the current state of knowledge is limited due to the underreporting of the contributions of women and children to commercial agriculture, this study will highlight some of the problems confronting especially women farmers, pointing out the direction for ensuring higher efficiency in farm resource utilization and productivity in their operations in cocoyam farms.
This study will be essential to understand the nature of the constraints women face in order to effectively help women farmers because failure to take into account gender relationships leads to the marginalization of the disadvantaged sector of the society and a large part of the agricultural work force
It will equally provide the much needed micro level data and the empirical basis for farm planning, policy formulation and implementation, for no society can afford to neglect the needs, rights, aspirations and contributions of half of its population. It will ensure policies that will improve the productivity of male and female cocoyam farmers as well as information on relative access to and control over resources will be important in the development of food security strategies.
The study will also provide a basis for equitability, effective and better allocation of resources between male and female cocoyam farmers. This study will add to the already existing literature on production which may aid further researchers in other geographical areas. It will also be useful to potential investors interested in cocoyam business in Abia State. It can also provide useful information, which will help in decision making for improvement of cocoyam business in Nigeria. The study will also be of immense benefits to researchers as well as policy makers on the need to keep the government at various levels abreast with the economic value of cocoyam. It is used for teaching purposes. Finally, in the developing countries where technologies are rarely developed, efficiency is the means of improving production and productivity