Women are of the utmost importance in rural economic development and other sectors. In the agricultural value chain, women have been seen to be very active and participate exhaustively in the farm process. Majority of the agricultural production in Nigeria come from rural women who are usually small holders. Quoting AgroNigeria Women comprise 43% of world‘s agricultural labour force which rises to 70% in some countries.
Unlike their male counterparts, women farmers face so many challenges, ranging from land ownership, limited access to financial resources, participation in the agric value chain, and the access to farm mechanization. Furthermore, these women voiceless especially with regards to influencing policies in agriculture that could help improve food production. As a result of these, most women are unable to reach their full potentials in food production. Majority of these women either acquired lands through rent/hire, from their husbands and relative, a very small percentage of these women are able to raise money and purchase their lands (Gideon and Yager: 2016).
Most of these women make human labour to carry out their farming activities. In Nigeria, farm labour is one of the few sources of employment for the rural community. About 90% of non-mechanized farming systems rely on the use of human labour. Most times, in other to save cost, most small holder farmers utilize family labour, whereby family members are used in place of patronizing commercial laborer. However, labour use is time consuming, energy sapping, sometimes in short supply and produces little results in term of the quantity of food produced. The better option which is farm mechanization seem to be tilted to benefit their male counterparts, most of these farm machineries need re-adjustment to suit the female body.
In Nigeria, Non-Governmental Organizations, Civil Society Organizations, Women groups etc, are working towards strengthening women’s participation in farm mechanization by providing trainings and alternative forms of mechanization that will help women farmers meet their needs in farm mechanization.
One of such measures is the training of Booking and Hiring agents by TOHFAN and Procom Mai karfi were some women were also among the recruited and trained candidates. The gender gap is being filled to give more female farmers access to hiring tractors and other form of farmers mechanization services given by TOHFAN. It will also give the female agents opportunity to earn an income alongside their male counterparts.
Another form of machinery used to aid women’s full participation in the agricultural sector is power tiller. This machinery seems to support the body makeup of the woman and is easier to operate. Moreover, there are some issues surrounding the acquisition or hiring of these farm types of machinery, one of such issues is financing. Most women do not have money to make individual purchases or individual hiring of these machinery. However, to resolve this issue, many women come together as a group to contribute money which will help them purchase or hire these farm machinery. After which they take turn to make use of this machinery in their various farms. This pattern seems to work for now, until another model is designed to help strengthen women’s participation in agricultural mechanization.