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Keywords:A CRITICAL EXAMINATION OF FOOD SECURITY COPING STRATEGIES OF WOMEN FARMERS’
1.1 Background to the Study
The dominant green in the Nigerian flag depicts fertility and strong agrarian potentials. Ironically, the nation seems incapable of tapping the immense opportunity bestowed upon her by nature. The agricultural sector is the most crucial sector of any nation’s economy. It is the supplier of food and employment for the population, raw materials for the industries and exports that can earn foreign exchange. In Nigeria, the agricultural sector employs over 70% of the populace and is still dominated by small-scale farmers. Even as at today, this group of farmers controls over 90% of the agricultural land in the country (FMWRRD, 2008; Unamma, 2009)and accounts for about 90% of the agricultural output of the nation. Agriculture presently contributes 40% to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) against 13 %. It also employs about two-third of the nation’s total labor force. More so, agriculture is the livelihood for nearly three-quarter of Nigeria poor people in the rural communities (Abdullahi, 2007).
The sustainable production of food is the first pillar of food security. Millions of rural women work as farmers, farm workers and natural resources manager (Onyemobi, 2005). In doing so, they contribute to national agricultural output, maintenance of the environment and household food security (Brown et al, 2001).Therefore; women play a significant role in agriculture the world over. About 70%of the agricultural workers, 80% of the food producers and 10 percent of those who process basic food stuff are women and they also undertake 60-90% of the rural marketing, thus making up more than two-third of the work force in agricultural production (FAO, 1985).
Food is defined as any substance consumed to provide nutritional support for the body. It is usually of plant or animal origin and contains essential nutrients such as carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins and minerals. The substance is ingested by an organism and assimilated by the organism’s cells in an attempt or effort to produce energy, maintain life and/or stimulate growth. The right to food is a human right derived from the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Right (ICESCR), recognizing the “right to an adequate standard of living, including adequate food” as well as “fundamental rights to be free from hunger”.
Food security in very plain term means “access by all people at all times to sufficient food and nutrition for a healthy and productive life”. Food security as a concept is “the availability of food in the right quality and quantity for consumption at the appropriate time” (Ewebiyi, 2011).FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization) defines food security as “access for all human beings, at all times to food that enables them to live a healthy active life. In other words, it is “access by all people at all times to sufficient food for an active and healthy life and includes availability of nutritionally adequate and safe food and an assured ability to acquire acceptable foods in socially acceptable ways”(Sarah, 2009). It could also be defined as “all people at all times having physical, social and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life”(United States Department of Agriculture, 2008). Achieving food security involves ensuring that sufficient quantities of food are available, that supplies are stable and that people needing food can have access to it at the appropriate time.
Food security coping strategies of women farmers encompass a range of approaches and activities that aims at improving the welfare and livelihood of women farmers and their households in terms of food security. Women farmers’ livelihood strategies and their support means of food security are diverse and complex, from cultivating field crops to livestock rearing, to home gardening or backyard farming, gathering of fruits, fishing from sources such as swamps, forests, wood lands, waste lands and quarries e. t .c .The Coping Strategy Index (CSI) of (issue 8 November, 1999) enumerates all consumption related coping strategies commonly used by a population. Four general categories of coping strategies were measured with individual strategies specifically according to location and culture:
- Dietary change (e.g. eating less preferred but less expensive food)
- Increasing short-term food access (e. g borrowing, gifts, wild foods, consuming seed stock)
- Decreasing number of people to feed (e. g short-term migration).
- Rationing (e. g mothers prioritizing children/men, limiting portion size, skipping meals, skipping eating for a whole day etc).The information is weighted according to the perceived severity of each behavior as indicated by community members in focus groups. The weighted scores are combined into an index that reflects current and perceived future food security status.
1.2 Statement of the Research Problem
Women farmers are often neglected in the scheme of things in Nigeria, particularly in the area of agriculture. They lack access to agricultural inputs such as loans, fertilizers, seedlings e. t .c. obviously; women are seen as people who are solely created for home management such as family food Preparation, child bearing and caring, fetching of water for domestic family use, gathering and selling of farm produce e.t.c.
In view of the above circumstances, women farmers own small area of farmland which is less than 0.1 hectare. Their aims of involving in agriculture is to ensure availability of food in the right quality and quantity to feed their family members, because they believed that a family that is food secured will not be predisposed to food borne diseases such as diarrhea, malnutrition and stunted growth with resultant effect on the family status such as high level of poverty and inability to meet basic human needs.
To ensure food security of family members, women farmers employ lots of coping strategies and these includes; crop rotation, mixed farming (engagement in both livestock and crop production at peasant level), house yard farming, traditional methods of food preservation and a host of others.
The effectiveness of all these coping strategies of women farmers on their household food security needed to be critically examined. It was against this background that this research was embarked upon in the study area in order to assess the food security coping strategies adopted by the women farmers to be food secured. The research was guided with the following research questions:
1.3 Research Questions
- What are the socio-economic characteristics of the respondents in the study area?
- What are the various types of food that are available to respondents in the study area?
- What are the constraints faced by the respondents in their food security coping strategies?
- What is the perception of women farmers on their food security coping strategies?
- What are the respondents’ food security coping strategies in the study area?
1.4 General Objective of the Study
The general objective of this study is to assess the food security coping strategies of women farmers in Oluyole Local Government Area of Oyo state. While
1.5 Specific Objectives are to:
- Determine the socio-economic characteristics of respondents in the study area.
- Investigate into the various types of food that are available to respondents in the study area
- Identify the constraints faced by the respondents in the study area.
- Determine the perception of women farmers on their food security coping strategies.
- Assess the coping strategies of respondents in the study area.
1.6 Research Hypotheses
H1: There is no significant relationship between the socio-economic characteristics of respondents and their food security coping strategies.
H2: There is no significant relationship between constraints faced by the respondents and their food security coping strategies.
H3: There is no significant relationship between the perception of respondents and their food security coping strategies.
1.7 Justification of the Study
This study investigated into the food security coping strategies of women farmers against the background that women are often neglected in the scheme of things, particularly in the area of agriculture. They lack access to agricultural inputs such as loan, fertilizer, seedlings, farm machineries such as tractor, planter, harvester e. t. c and the fact that most of them are small scale farmers which made them to adopt various food security coping strategies such as; limiting portion size of food, purchasing cheaper food items, eating less preferred food among others in order to be food secured.
This study is stimulated by the need to examine the perceived effects of the aforementioned food security coping strategies of women farmers on their household food security status. This study will provide opportunity to offer useful suggestions to solving the above constraints. This study will also help to provide useful information on the improvement of the various coping strategies adopted by women farmers and improvement of food security.
This study is envisaged to be of tremendous impact on awareness creation and policy making processes most especially in the field of agriculture. This study will be helpful to support the work carried out by Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOS) serving as baseline for analysis and policy making recommendations. This study can serve as a reference point in designing intervention programs to help achieve household food security in Nigeria, most especially in the rural areas and among women farmers.
1.8 Delimitation of the Study
This research work was delimited to the rural political wards in Oluyole Local Government Area of Oyo state because this study dealt with rural respondents. The rural wards includes: wards 2,5,8,9 and ward 10.
1.9 Limitations of the Study
In the cause of this study, the researcher encountered the following constraints while conducting the research work: it was discovered that most of the women farmers had no formal educational background which posed problems to the researcher during the interview conducted, because the researcher had to read the items on the questionnaire to the respondents’ hearing and as a result of that, the researcher spent more time in carrying out the investigation. Some of the other limitations which the researcher encountered includes: distance and financial constraints. Nevertheless, all the above constraints did not affect the efficacy and outcome of the research.
1.10 Definition of Terms
Food: Is any substance consumed to provide nutritional support for the body. It is usually of plant or animal origin and contains essential nutrients such as carbohydrate, fats, protein, vitamins and minerals. Food is consumed to produce energy, maintain life and/or stimulate growth.
Food Security: Food security as a concept is the availability of food in the right quality and quantity for consumption at the appropriate time.
Coping: In psychological terms, coping means expending conscious efforts to solve personal and interpersonal problems and seeking to master, minimize or tolerate a situation or condition.
Strategy: This refers to a plan of action designed to achieve a particular goal.
Women: These are female human. The term woman is usually reserved for an adult female human.
Farmer: A farmer is a person who engages in agriculture, who raises living organisms for food or raw materials, generally including livestock husbandry and growing of crops. A farmer is usually a farm owner.
Women Farmers: These are female human who engages in agriculture, who raises living organisms for food or raw materials generally including livestock farming and growing of crops OR female human who owns a farm.
Keywords: A CRITICAL EXAMINATION OF FOOD SECURITY COPING STRATEGIES OF WOMEN FARMERS’
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