ANALYSIS OF THE EFFECT OF ECONOMIC EMPOWERMENT AMONG WOMEN AND AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTIVITY IN ABAKALIKI LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREA EBONYI STATE

ABSTRACT
The study analyzed the effect of economic Empowerment among the women farmers and agricultural productivity in Abakaliki Local government Area, Ebonyi State, Nigeria. A multistage random sampling were employed for the study and Data for the study were collected by the use of questionnaire from 120 women farmers. These data were analyzed using both descriptive and inferential statistics. The findings showed that majority (525%) of the respondents were within the age bracket of 20-39 years. It was equally observed that majority (40%) of the respondents had household sizes ranging from 1-5 persons and 29.2% had completion of secondary school education. 

Furthermore, the result of analysis showed had between 6-10 years of experience and earn an average annual income of N21000-N40000(35.8%). The study also revealed that majority (52%) of the respondents source their income from farming activities. Meanwhile, 45% of them fully engaged in farming activities as their major primary occupation in the study area. The study also identified vegetable, cocoyam, goat/sheep, snail Livestock feed/product, timber product, fertilizer, veterinary supply, and cereal as the major economic opportunities in the study area. Again it was noted that educational status, access to from land, access, to credit facilities employment status, and women training were identified as women’s socio economic characteristics that have positively relationship with access to economic empowerment. Based on he findings of study, Government should make a prudent policy based women’s economic empowerment, Empowering, women economically a fundamental human right and government should organize a programme that will develop women’s skills, knowledge, and technical expertise through education and training.


DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURAL ECONOMICS
MANAGEMENT AND EXTENSION



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INTRODUCTION
            Women entrepreneurs play an important role in the economies of developing countries. Accessing financial services allows these businesswomen to invest in their enterprises in order to stay competitive and profitable.
            Initiative that support more gender equitable access to productive resources are significant to women’s economic advancement, especially for women entrepreneurs and formers. Owing assets such as land, equipment, or livestock can serve a myriad of purposes, offering women inputs for production, providing physical security, conferring social identify, and serving as a source of income and collateral for credit without adequate resources, women are dependent on their husbands or other relatives for their economic security.
            According to OECD (2012) Economic empowerment is the capacity of women to participate in, contribute to and benefit from growth processes in ways which recognize the value of their contributions, respect their dignity and make it possible to negotiate a fairer distribution of the benefits of growth. It increases women’s access to economic resources and opportunities including jobs, financial services, property and other productive assets, skills development and market information. Women’s economic participation and empower are fundamental to strengthening women’s rights and enabling women to lives and exert influence in society (Swedish ministry for foreign affairs, 2010). Increasing the role of women in the economy is part of the solution to the financial and economic crises and critical for economic resilience and growth the economic empowerment of women is a prerequisite for sustainable development, pro-poor growth and the achievement of all the millennium development goals (MDGs). Gender equality and empowered women are catalysts for multiplying development efforts. Investment in gender equality yield the highest returns of all development investment (OECD, 2012). Manerten and swinnen (2008) suggest the empowerment potential of women’s work in these chains depended on whether they participated through contract farming or wage labour.
            Women therefore participated in contract farming as unwaged family labour, often diverting their efforts from family food production and often providing the primary source of labour for contract farming. Younger and less educated women are also more likely to work as casual labour, while household wealth and young children decreased the likelihood.
            As men increasingly migrate out of the agricultural sector in response to rising landless and the possibility of better jobs in the off-farm sector, it is largely women who make up an increasing proportion of agricultural wage labour.
            However, the wage gap has remained largely unchanged. Das (2006) found that causal female wage workers earned half the wages of casual male workers, controlling for differences in their differences in their individual characteristics. Bridges et al. (2011) found that women from extremely poor households were most likely to be in paid work and that both men and women from poor households were concentrated in daily wage labour.
            According to world bank (2002) suggests that the primary pathways through which gender system affect growth are by influencing the productivity of labour and the allocative efficiently of the economy. In terms of women farmers to productive inputs and human capital were on a par with men’s access, total agricultural output could increase by an estimated 6 to 20 percent (world bank 2001b). in terms of allocative efficiently, while increases in household income are generally associated with reduced child mortality risks, the marginal impact is almost 20 times as large if the income is in the hands of the mother rather than the father (WBGDG, 2003). Identification of women as being a reliable, productive and cheap labour force makes them the preferred workforce for textiles and electronic transnational corporations. Perception of women as I good with money, including being better at paying back loans, as led them to be targeted in microfinance programmes. Recognition of women as more efficient distributors of goods and services within the household has led to them being targeted with resources aimed at alleviating poverty, such as cash transfer programmes. Women have the potential to change their own economic status, as well as that of the communities and countries in which they live. Yet more often than not, women’s economic contributions go unrecognized, their work undervalued and their promise unnourished. Unequal opportunities between women and men continue to hamper women’s ability to lift themselves from poverty and gain more researches has shows that inequalities persist in the way paid and unpaid work is divided between women and men; in the fact that women remain the sole caregivers at home, and in their limited access to resources.
            Broadly, the objective of the study was to analyze the effect of economic empowerment of women farmers for sustainable agriculture in Ebonyi state, Nigeria, specifically, the objective are; to: describe the socio-economic characteristics of the women farmers in Ebonyi state, identify and characterize the type and various sources economic opportunities exists among women farmers in Ebonyi state, and to determine the effect of socio- economic characteristics of women farmers on their access to economic empowerment.


CHAPTER TWO
2.0       Methodology
2.1       Study Area
            The study area is Abakaliki Local Government Area of Ebonyi state.
            The Local Government Area is one of the thirteen (13) Local Government of the state. The headquarters of the Local Government Area is located at Nkaliki, which is 3km away from the state capital. It has a land mass of 106 squared kilometers with an estimated population of 151, 723; made up of 73, 433 males and 79, 280 females (NPC, 2006). Geographically, the study area lies between latitude 40N and longitude 80E. Majority of the populace of the study area are predominantly farmers hence, agricultural activities constitutes their economic activities having good records in rice, yam and cassava production and also livestock production among others. Other occupation among others. Other occupation engaged by the people are civil service, teaching, and business.


2.2       Sampling Technique and Data Collection
            In the course of this research work multi-stage random sampling techniques were employed in selecting the respondent for the study. The local government area is made up of seven(7) autonomous communities while 4 of them were randomly selected and used for the study. Ten(10) villages were selected from each autonomous communities giving a total of forty villages. Three (3) farmers were randomly selected and this gave a total of 120 women farmers in the area for social, economic and cultural importance of the agriculture. Data for the study were collected primarily from the respondents through structured questionnaire and interview schedule.
2.3       Data Analysis
            both descriptive and inferential statistics were employed in the analysis of the data collected descriptive statistics such as frequently distribution, tables, and percentages were employed to analyze objectives (i) and (ii) while objective (iii) was realized using multiple regression analysis. The regression was stated as:
Y         =          F(x1, x2, x3, x4, x5, x6,)
Where Y        =          level of access to economic
X1        =          Household size
X2        =          Educational status (years)
X3        =          Access to farmland (ha)
X4        =          Access to credit facilities (N)
X5        =          Employment status
X6        =          Women’s training


CHAPTER THREE
3.0       RESULT AND DISCUSSION
3.1       SOCIO-ECONOMIC CHARACTERISTICS OF WOMEN FARMERS
            The result of the socio-economic characteristics of the women farmers as presented in table 1 shows that majority (52.5%) of the respondents were within the age bracket of 20-39 years. This indicates that agricultural activities in the study area were dominated by the active women farmers the implication is that women farmers. The implication is that women farmers within this age bracket are more innovative, motivated and adaptable respondents who can with wisdom knowledge and understanding cope with farming challenges. It is also means that women farmers within this age bracket will be looking for economic empowerment opportunities and extensively utilized it. It was equally observed that majority (40%) of the respondents had household sizes ranging from 1-5 persons. The analysis on the educational status shows that majority (29.2%) of the respondents had the completion of secondary school education. These statistics imply that most women farmers are able to read and write and can therefore use messages on developmental issues, including well utilization of economic empowerment opportunities they see.
            Most of the women farmers interviewed in the study area reported that they had 6-10 years of experience and the women farmers earn an average annual income of N21,000-N40,000 (35.8%) and seconded by N41,000-N60,000 (25%). The study further shows that most of the women farmers (52%) source their income from farming activities in the study area. The findings of the study equally revealed that most of the women farmers (45%) are highly engaged in farming activities as their major primarily occupation in the study area. This findings agreed with Bardasi, Blackden, and Guzman (2006) who reported that women are major players in the private sector, particularly in agriculture and in informal businesses.
3.2       Type of Economic Opportunities Found Among the Women Farmers in the Study Area 
            Economic opportunities found in the study area is made up of farm production and livestock production, processing enterprise, farm input supply and distribution/marketing. In Abakaliki Ebonyi state, farm production such as cocoyam (14.8%) and goat/sheep (14.8%) was found to be highly dominated by the women while under processing component and farm input supply such as livestock product/feed (21.9%) and fertilizers (28.9%) was highly engaged by the women as the major economic opportunities. The distribution/marketing component of the economic opportunities in Abakaliki Ebonyi state shows that women are mainly in the distribution and marketing of cereals (rice), livestock/livestock product and Timber product respectively. This implies that women with adequate resources will be independent from their husband and enough economic security. Furthermore, when a women is economically empowered, she can meaning contribute to and benefit from economic activity occurring around her in ways that recognize the value of her contribution and make it possible for her to obtain a fairer distribution of economic gains. Socio- economic characteristics of women farmers on their access to economic empowerment.
            Multiple regression model was adopted for the analysis. Based on the analysis, the coefficients of determination R2 was 0.716 or 71.6%. This showed that about 71.6% of the variation in the dependent variable Y was influenced by the combined effects of the independent variables, x1-x7, while the remaining 28.4% of the variation in the dependent variable Y, was due to some other important variables that were not included in the regression model. The F- value of (90.477) indicated that the overall equation was significant at (P< 0.01) while Durbin-Waston (DW) of 1.963, showed the absence of autocorrelation.
            Out of the six explanatory variables specified, fine were statistically significant; these were household size, educational status, access to farmland, Employment status, and women’s training. Household size had a negative sign and statistically significant at 1% (P< 0.01). The a priori expectation was not conforms because household size with large farm size are more likely to have increased output when compared with households that are constrained by land availability. This finding is in agreement with that of Babatunde, Omotesho and Sholotan (2007) on socio- economic characteristics and food security of farming households in Kwara state, Nigeria where household labour availability improved farm productivity. Coefficients of educational status and women training had a positive sign and statistically significant at 10% and 5% respectively. This imply that development of women’s skill, knowledge and technical expertise through education and training plays a key role in women’s economic empowerment. This confirms with the findings of Nwibo and Okorie (2013) that educational attainment expands knowledge base which makes farmers alert to new opportunities, and increase in the opportunity cost of being self-employed. Regression coefficient of access to farmland was significant and positively related to access to economic empowerment. This means that land availability will motivated the women farmers to seek for economic empowerment and increase her capacity to ensure agricultural productivity and food security, and to the livelihoods of herself and her family.
            The coefficient of access to credit facilities bore positive sign and statistically insignificant. This positive relationship implies that access to all financial products and services including saving, insurance, and credit is an additional way for women to assert their in economic decision making, and will also provide women with a degree of security in the face of personal or family crisis, in old age, and during economic shocks. Again, when a women is economically empowered, she can meaningfully contribute to and benefit from economic activity accruing around her in ways that recognize the value of her contribution and make it possible for her to obtain a fairer distribution of economic gains. Empowered women are better able to break out of the cycle of poverty and exercise a greater voice in political, economic and cultural spheres.
            Employment status had positive sign and statistically significant at 5% level of significance. The implication is that expanding women’s employment opportunities for formal employment is crucial to increasing her income, her conditions of work, and improving her quality of life. Source of Economic Empowerment among the women farmers.
            From the result of analysis shown that women farmers sources their economic empowerment from their family/relatives (30.8%) and federal ministry of agriculture (18.3%). Meanwhile Fadarma (8.3%), financial institution (13.5%), ADPs (12.%) and cooperative societies (16.7%).
4.0       Conclusion
            The research work identified from production (vegetable and cocoyam), livestock production (goat/sheep and snail), processing component (livestock feed/product and Timber product), farm input supply (fertilizer and veterinarian supply) and distribution/marketing (cereal and livestock/livestock product) as the major economic opportunities in Abakaliki Local Government Area, Ebonyi state. Again it was observed that Educational status, access to farmland, Access to credit, Employment and women’s training were identified as women’s socioeconomic characteristics that have positively relationship with access to economic empowerment.



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