By Emmanuel Osodi
Here is the pictorial story of Nigerian rural women in agriculture, especially in Ondo and Delta states
The Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism (WSCIJ) recently gave a grant for a project to investigate and portray the lives of rural women in their daily pursuits in pictorial form. The project seeks to investigate the lives of rural women farmers and their challenges of combining farm work with motherhood in Nigeria, in particular, Ondo and Delta states.
Most farmers in Nigeria operate at the subsistence level. Notwithstanding this, their contributions are so extensive that the country’s food security and agricultural development lies in their hands. Most of these farmers happen to be rural women, yet development agencies have devoted very little resources to how research, new agricultural policies and modern techniques can have impacts on the well being of Nigerian women farmers.
Women make significant contribution to food production and processing, but men seem to take more of the farm decisions and control the productive resources. In Nigeria, women play a dominant role in agricultural production; their active participation in Nigeria’s agriculture sector is also not new.
In Ekuku-Agbor, Idumuesah and Ute Erumu town located in Agbor, Ika South Local Government Area of Delta State, women are mostly involved in farming business. Forty six-year old Mrs. Christiana Onybie, a farmer in Ekuku-Agbor town with seven children, said since she lost her husband to malaria in 2013, she has been the only one taking care of her children with her local palm oil mill business.
Another farmer, Mrs. Charity Ebuniwe, 30, said she assists her husband in the farm, like so many other women in the surrounding villages in Ekuku-Agbor town. “Most of us are farmers since there are no other jobs to do apart from farming,” she said.
Production of cocoa and kolanut is also on the rise, especially in Ondo state. A visit to Odigbo Local Government Area in Ore tells the story of the hardship many women endure in their day-to-day endeavour to keep body and soul together. The processing of cocoa and kolanut for sale, export or onward transfer to urban areas for sale, involves mostly women, with only a handful of men Mrs. Mary David says cocoa farming in Ilutuntun camp in Odigbo Local Government Area, Ondo State, is a way of life and the business is the people’s main source of livelihood, as both men and women contribute to the process.
The contribution made by rural women to agriculture and rural development in Nigeria is grossly under-appreciated in spite of the dominant role women play in the sector. Many Nigerians are aware, though few will agree, that woman work as hard as men in many of the households in rural areas in their contribution to the household economy and food security.
They therefore deserve to be given due recognition as far as decision-making process in agriculture is concerned.