15th Congress Proceedings
Agricultural Extension For The Invisible Actors In Hunger Drama In Rural Nigeria
It is now an undisputable fact that rural women farmers produce more than half of all the food grown in Nigeria. They are mainly responsibility for providing food for their families as they plant, harvest and fish, gather fuel wood, fetch water, cook as well as process and sell foodstuffs. This paper describes them as invisible actors in the hunger drama because though they feed the nation, they have little or no access to factors of production that boost productivity such as extension services. Indeed, while the dominance of women in rural areas are evident, policy makers, planners and extension officials often behave as if women did not exist, as if the situation and needs of all farmers were the same, whether men or women. Agricultural extension is one of the main tools for increasing agricultural productivity because it bridges the gap between technical knowledge and farmers practices. Thus, it is fundamental to rural women’s ability to feed the nation in a sustainable way. The main objective of this paper therefore, is to highlight some evidences to support the contention that rural farmers in general and women in particular are not being well served by existing extension systems in Nigeria. The findings are from a pilot survey of women farmers in Abuja, Nigeria. The results suggest that failure to reach women farmers is part of an overall problem related to lack of support and resources. With about one or two extension workers being assigned to work with as many as 1000 farm families, the need for policy review is obvious. The paper recommends that gender targeting of extension services is crucial to the fight against hunger in rural Nigeria and the ability to feed the nation in a sustainable way. The paper is organized in five sections. Keywords: Agricultural Extension, Women Farmers, Rural Nigeria.