1.1 Background of the study The Nigeria’s food sub sector parades a variety of crops ranging from cassava, yam, potatoes, rice, maize, beans, guinea corn, groundnuts, tomatoes etc. The high concentration of cassava and its production in the study area constitute the basis for the selection of the crop in this study. However, (Onyemauwa, 2012) reported that, cassava is almost a daily menu in Nigerian households especially in south eastern part of the country.
Cassava (Manihort esculentus) belongs to the family Euphorbiaceae (Cock 1985). Cassava originated from Brazil where it is the major stable food of the people. The cultivation and consumption of cassava is now worldwide with distribution throughout Africa, America, Europe, Asia and other part of the world (IITA 2010). In 2014, 268million tons of cassava was produced. The world’s largest producer of cassava is Nigeria with a production of 47,406,770 tons in 2013. With a production of 30,227,542 tons, Thailand follows next. Indonesia (23,936,920) and Brazil (21,484,218) rank third and fourth respectively in the world for cassava production.
In Nigeria, cassava had so long been regarded a poor man’s food because of its ease of production and all year round availability until very recently when the consumption of its product had become a luxury even to the middle class. Cassava was believed to have been brought to Africa from Brazil by the Portuguese about 350years ago. Even though it was actually introduced into Nigeria over 300 years ago, its systematic cultivation was never generally accepted and practiced until the late 1980. It became fully integrated into the farming systems of southern Nigeria little over 150 years ago and it is presently cultivated in almost all parts of the country.
Cassava is valued for its outstanding ecological adaptation, low labour requirement, ease of cultivation and high yields. It is also widely cultivated because it can be successfully grown in poor soils and under conditions of marginal rainfall. It has the ability to grow with appreciable yield where many other crops would hardly survive. It gives reasonable good yields under marginal conditions and when a condition is optimal. It produces higher amount of calories per hectare than most tropical food crops. Given improved agronomic practices, yields up to 25-40 metric tonnes per hectare can be obtained from the roots of improved varieties. The Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations in Rome (Food and Agricultural Organization FAO) reported that Nigeria grows more cassava than any other country in the world in terms of the volume of production, land use area and total production.
Gender is a socio-economic variable that assists a researcher to analyze the roles, responsibilities of men and women (Obinna, 2012). It is concerned with psychological, social and cultural differences between male and females. These differences vary from one society, culture, race, and ethnicity to another in time and space (Obinna and Chukwu 2013).Since the 1990s, policymakers and development practitioners have highlighted the critical importance of gender in the implementation, evaluation and effectiveness of programs across a range of social and economic sectors. Gender and Agriculture, a recent sourcebook produced by the World Bank and collaborating partners (2009), warns that the “failure to recognize the role, differences and inequities (between men and women) poses a serious threat to the effectiveness of the agricultural development agenda”. Similarly, the international Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) states that although female farmers are primary contributors to the world’s food production and security, they are ‘frequently underestimated and overlooked in development strategies’ (UN News Center 2010). In short, there is agreement that gender inequalities and lack of attention to gender in agricultural development contribute to lower productivity, lost income, and higher levels of poverty as well as under nutrition. Agricultural development in such context usually involves the participation and contributions of women and men. (Okunade, Farinde and Laogun, 2005); Ekong, (2010); and Obinna, (2012) have shown that women are very important in every spheres of life, their roles go beyond child bearing and home management. USAID (2004) stated that women’s input in decision-making in the household was inversely related to their income status.
Amazingly, the production of cassava in Nigeria is in the hands of small scale farmers, who depend on rain fed agriculture at a very high subsistent level (Mbanasor, 2012).Cassava is also the 3rd most important sources of calories in the tropics after rice and maize. It is very vital for both food security and income generation for the small scale farmers (FAO, 2008). International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) (2003) reported that cassava has been recommended to be promoted as poverty fighter across Africa to be facilitated by Pan – African cassava initiative. This was due to the fact that cassava is consumed daily as the main dish in forms like gari, fufu, and chips. Cassava is also one of the crops under Presidential Initiative in Nigeria because of its importance in the livelihood of the people in the study area. In a related situation, Aniedu (2006) reported that cassava crop was regarded as women’s crop and that 100% of the female farmers in the South-eastern Nigeria cultivated cassava in addition to other crops in the farming systems. Studies have shown that women in Nigeria face a lot of institutional, religious and cultural handicaps towards having voice, right to property ownership, freedom of associations and inputs in the decision-making issues of the household. It was based production among small-scale cassava farmers in Iseyin local government, Oyo state.
1.2 Problem statements
Cassava production in the country has been increasing for the past 20 or more years.A recent survey of the cassava growing area shows that in more than 90% of the 65 representative villages, the farmers group respondent reported an increasing trend in cassava production over 20 year prior to the interview. Further analysis of the available production data shows that on the average annual basics, the harvested land area was over 80% higher in 1990-1993 than in 1974-1977. Both the yield and of course, the overall production showed a similar trend. Total production at present is estimated at over 34million matric tones. With the production level, Nigeria is the largest producers of cassava in the world.
In most part of rural Nigeria, division of labour within the household is gender-specific and according to age. Women play a prominent role in agricultural production. The extent of their involvement in agricultural production, and their contribution to the household food basket vary from one ethnic group to another.
With growing recognition of the role of women in agricultural production, a number of programme have been initiated recently: women-agricultural (WIA), better life programme (BLP), family economic advancement programme (FEAP), Family support programme (FSP).
These serve as mechanism for giving women better, cheaper and reliable access to land, credit, agricultural input, extension information and other resources for example, the WIA programme in the ADPs formed several cassava processing and utilization groups and is promoting the use of improved technologies, working with the RAIDS to improve awareness of existing processing facilities. There are some factor that have been affecting the rural area in term of food security, up till now the Federal Government is still struggling to put an end to these problem, in order to create a better living for the people in the rural areas, these problem are;
- Inadequate credit and capital for farmer
- Lack of technology in agriculture
- Inadequate facilities for storage, processing and production of cassava
- Instability of price of cassava throughout the year
- Problem of pest infestation and disease infection in cassava crop
- Land ownership by individual and government which include policy making by government.
Moreso, there was need to evaluate gender differential in cassava production among small scale farmers most especially in Iseyin L.G. of Oyo State
Therefore, this research work was carried out based on the following problems to provide answers to the vital question concerning the project research. These questions are;
- What are the socio-economic characteristics of the farmers?
- What is the profit level of each category?
- What are the factors that affect production of cassava?
- What are the constraints faced by the male and female respondents in the study area?
1.3 Objective of the Study
The general objective of the study was to determine the differences in the level of involvement of both male and females in production of cassava among small scale farmers in Iseyin Local Government, Oyo state.
1.3.1 Specific Objectives
The specific objective was to;
- Identify the socio-economic characteristics of the farmers.
- Estimate the profit level of male and female cassava farmers in the study area.
- Determine the factors that affect production of cassava in the study area.
- Identify the constraint encountered by the male and female cassava farmers in the study area.
1.4 Hypotheses of the study
The research hypotheses tested were in null and alternate form;
Ho: There is no significant difference in profitability level of male and female cassava farmers
Ha: There is significant difference in profitability level of male and female cassava farmers
1.5 Justification of the study
Cassava production plays a very vital role in household and food security in Nigeria; it also serves as a reliable source of income to farmers in rural areas. This is because it can grow on marginal land and it is consumable in various forms, thereby making it available in large quantities.
There is need for more production of cassava in the rural areas because of its importance in alleviating rural poverty. This will help the ruralities to have a better and reliable source of living. Also, introduction of improved varieties of cassava, use of integrated pest management scheme to control pests and disease are also needed.
Recently, efforts are going on by the food technologists towards processing cassava into different forms to reduce bulkiness, perishability and also to increase palatability of cassava crop. In recent times Federal and State governments of Nigeria have made it a matter of policy attention to diversify the present over dependence of the country’s economy on oil, by focusing on tree crops such as cocoa and food crops such as cassava which is a reflection of the setup of the presidential initiative on the production of these crops.
The study area, Iseyin Local Government area of Oyo State is an important cassava producing area. Therefore, cost effectiveness as well as enhanced production may lead to high returns to the farmers in this study area.