The role of agriculture in Nigeria’s economy cannot be over-emphasized. It provides food for its growing population, employment for the majority of the population as well as raw materials for agro-industries. In addition, before the discovery of oil and advent of oil boom era in Nigeria, agriculture was the main source of foreign exchange earning. According to Von Braun et al, (2008), world agricultural productivity, particularly in poor countries, is key to global food security and the fight against hunger and poverty. In Nigeria, especially in the rural populace, which constitutes 70% of the population of the country, farming activity is the main occupation. Women make up a large percentage of farmers, and hence make a great contribution to food and fibre production and help in food security.
FOS (2009) reported that poverty has been enormous, persistent and overwhelming a greater proportion of Nigeria society. In corroboration, Ojo (2008), reported that poverty in Nigeria is assuming a worrisome dimension as over half of its populations is living in abject poverty. Furthermore, Abiola and Olaopa (2008), gave the resultant effect of poverty in Nigeria as hunger, ignorance, malnutrition, disease, unemployment, poor access to credit facilities and low life expectancy as well as a general level of human hopelessness. Despite its importance, agriculture in Nigeria still faced with numerous problems resulted in low productivity. Occupational health in agriculture is a significant public health issue in all industrialised agricultural nations. The international research record demonstrates that agricultural workers and their families are vulnerable to high injury and fatality rates and occupationally related diseases. Yet, reductions in the disproportionate levels of ill-health in this sector have largely remained elusive (McCurdy et al., 2000, Lovelock 2009b). Research in this field is dominated by quantitative research which provides observational data on injury and disease rates but which typically does not address the socio-cultural field within which the agricultural worker labours. Thus, while it is clear that agricultural workers most commonly experience serious non-fatal and fatal injury as a consequence of mishandling a range of machinery and through engagement with livestock, little is known about the socio-cultural nature of their engagement with technology and animals (Lovelock et al., 2009).
Agricultural workers are exposed to a range of environmental factors which place them at risk of various conditions and diseases. These include exposure to dust and organic materials and various respiratory disorders; exposure to pesticides, herbicides and insecticides and their association with various cancers, including brain, prostate, breast and ovarian cancers, lymphohematopoietic cancers including non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, leukaemia and multiple myloma (Lovelock et al., 2009). In addition, exposures to various physical agents such as noise and the risk of hearing loss (McBride, 2003), UV radiation and the risk of skin, including lip, cancer are common for this occupational group. These risks and exposures cross agricultural production types, with increased risks for some forms of production, for example skin cancer amongst those engaged in dairying; and respiratory conditions amongst those engaged in pig farming (Lovelock et al., 2009).
The research record demonstrates that various groups are particularly at risk of fatal and non-fatal injury and diseases and these groups include: overwhelmingly men in all age groups, older workers (again mainly men), migrant and seasonal workers, youths (particularly boys aged 11–15 years) and children, in particular boys. Boys and men are more risk prone than women and girls in this sector (McCurdy and Carroll, 2000). With respect to intentional fatal injury (suicide), male farm owners and managers are most at risk (Alston and Kent, 2008, Judd et al., 2006).
Fatal and non-fatal injury and disease outcomes are shaped by gendered notions of what constitutes risk, where men perceive some situations as less risky than do women and where risk taking by young and older men is culturally entrenched and central to masculine identity (Elliott and Strong, 1997). Risk taking in this context can have significant health consequences (Courtenay, 2000) but it also stands alongside a tendency amongst men to not engage with health promoting behaviours or screening programmes. However, not all men are equal risk takers. There is some evidence that owner operators will take greater risks than salaried or waged workers (Lovelock, 2009a, Feyer.,2001).
1.1 Objective of the study
To assess the farmers general working conditions
To have insight into how the farmers are coping with the hazards and ill health encountered in the of production.