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IV. Findings and discussion


IV. Findings and discussion

1. Women farmers as clientele of agricultural extension systems

The findings presented in this section identified various interrelated components, such as the demographic and socio-economic conditions of women farmers, their roles in farm and reproductive activities, their participation in decision-making on the farm and in reproductive activities, average hours spent in farm and reproductive activities, access to production resources utilized to carry out their farm activities, frequency of advice received from extension agents, their present sources of agricultural advice, their main problems in farm activities, areas of need for agricultural advice and their gender preferences for field extension staff. Together, these components provide the information that can lead to the effective design and implementation of agricultural extension programmes to maximize women farmers' participation.

1.1 Demographic and socio-economic characteristics

1.1.1 Age of women farmers

In all the study areas of the four selected countries that provided data, it appeared that the age of women farmers ranged from 15 to 60 years. Women farmers aged between 30 and 45 years were the majority in Trinidad (62.50%), followed by Nigeria (44.37%), Syria (31.25%) and Thailand (27.50%). Furthermore, it was found that nearly 40% of women farmers in Syria and Nigeria were in the younger age group, followed by Thailand (31.25%) and Trinidad (23.75%). It was also noted that less than one-third of women farmers in three of the study countries (except Thailand) were from the older age group.

Table 2. Age level of women farmers in the study areas in the four countries selected

Categories of age level

Thailand N=80 %

Trinidad N=80 %

Nigeria N=160 %

Syria N=160 %

Younger (15 - 30 years)

31.25

23.75

40.00

40.63

Middle (30 - 45 years)

27.50

62.50

44.37

31.25

Older (45 - 60 years)

41.25

13.75

15.63

28.12

N= Total number of respondents

As shown in Table 2, the majority of the respondents in the four study areas were between 15 and 45 years.

1.1.2 Marital status of women farmers

The respondents of the present study are presented in Table 3 according to marital status. This reveals that a large percentage of women farmers in the four study countries were married (91.88% in Syria, 85% in Nigeria, 78.75% in Thailand and 61.25% in Trinidad).

Table 3. Marital status of women farmers in the study areas of the four countries selected

Categories of marital status

Thailand %

Trinidad %

Nigeria %

Syria %

Married

78.75

61.25

85.00

91.88

Divorced/separated

5.00

2.50

0.63

0.62

Widowed

16.25

23.75

14.37

7.50

Unmarried mother

 

12.50

 

6.88

Furthermore, it was noted that the percentage of widows included in the study was computed as nearly 24% in Trinidad, followed by 16.25% in Thailand, 14.37% in Nigeria and only 7.5% in Syria. A negligible percentage of women farmers was in the divorced/separated category in all four study countries.

1.1.3 Status of household head

Several workshop/conference reports and studies suggested singling out female-headed households as a special category of extension clientele. The results of the present study (see Table 4) indicate that less than one-third (26.25%) of the total number of households studied in Trinidad were headed by women, followed by Thailand (21.25%), Nigeria (15%) and Syria (4.38%). The findings in Nigeria were supported by the survey of a World Bank-executed project on Women's Agricultural Productivity in Africa (WAPIA) in 1990.

Table 4. Household Head in the study areas of the four countries selected

Category of Household Head

Thailand %

Trinidad %

Nigeria %

Syria %

Women

21.25

26.25

15.00

4.38

Men (husband)

78.75

61.25

85.00

88.74

Male family members (father and brothers)

12.50

 

6.88

 

It is worth mentioning that, in married households in all the study countries, women farmers generally performed agricultural activities with their husbands. In addition, specifically in Nigeria, it was reported that women farmers controlled their own personal farm as well as contributing labour to their husband's and family farm. It was also expressed by most of the married women in the four study countries that, in general, their husbands, or the male family members, were always considered head of the household. Furthermore, it was shown in Syria that widows were guided either by the father or brothers of their husbands, whereas in the other three countries this category of women was, generally speaking, considered head of the household. In addition, unmarried mothers in Trinidad were found to live with their direct relatives (parents/brothers).

From the above findings presented in Tables 2, 3 and 4 it can be deduced that women farmers were not a homogeneous group in all four study areas. They represented different situations which should be considered as a useful factor when planning extension strategy.

1.1.4 Total number of children

As shown in Table 5, most of the women farmers in Nigeria (78.12%) and Syria (75%) appeared to have more than six children, while in Trinidad 92.50% and in Thailand 88.75% had between one and three children.

Table 5. Number of children of women farmers in the study areas of the four countries selected

Category of family size

Thailand %

Trinidad %

Nigeria %

Syria %

Small (1 to 3 children)

88.75

92.50

6.25

7.50

Average (4 to 6 children)

11.25

6.25

15.63

17.50

Large (more than 6 children)

 

1.25

78.12

75.00

From the findings shown above, it is assumed that the number of children in rural areas may have varied because of the socio-cultural and economic conditions of the individual country. Furthermore, the findings suggest that, if they had many children, women farmers could be compelled to engage more in reproductive activities which would mean that they would have less leisure time and this could affect women's participation in agricultural extension activities.

1.1.5 Educational level of women farmers

The highest percentage of illiterate women farmers was identified in Syria (62.50%) and in Nigeria (60%), while women farmers in Trinidad (95%) and Thailand (80%) had the minimum formal education at primary or secondary level (Table 6).

Table 6. Educational level of women farmers in the study areas of the four countries selected

Categories of educational level

Thailand %

Trinidad %

Nigeria %

Syria %

No education

20.00

5.00

60.00

62.50

Informal education

 

00.00

15.63

20.00

Primary level

56.25

65.00

24.37

15.62

Secondary level

23.75

30.00

00.00

1.88

The above findings show that in Syria and Nigeria most of the women farmers were illiterate, compared to the educational level in Thailand and Trinidad. This is in line with the findings reported by the Research and Planning Division (Anonymous, 1982), FAO (1983b.), Gill (1987) and the World Bank (1991a.). It is assumed that women's access to agricultural extension and their ability to comprehend and use technical information are lower when they lack the minimum formal education. Moreover, because of illiteracy, women farmers are less able to respond to written extension materials. They are also excluded from selection as contact farmers in the extension programme.

1.1.6 Size of landholdings of women farmers

The total size of available cultivated land in the four study countries is shown in Table 7. This indicates that the majority of women farmers in three of the countries (excluding Thailand) cultivated less than three acres of land. This is in agreement with the findings reported by the World Bank (1989b.). It also shows that none of the women farmers in the study areas in Nigeria had more than five acres of land for crop production.

Table 7. Total amount of land cultivated by women farmers in the study areas of the four countries selected

Categories of amount of land

Thailand %

Trinidad %

Nigeria %

Syria %

Less than 3 acres

28.75

70.00

84.38

69.37

3 - 5 acres

46.25

17.50

15.62

14.38

More than 5 acres

25.00

12.50

 

16.25

From the data shown in this Table, it is perceived that having less cultivated land can be a strong disincentive for women farmers to adopt improved methods/techniques of agricultural technologies, or investing their seasonal income in land for crop production. Moreover, given the existing farming technologies, most of the smallholders (less than 3 acres) were observed as being faced with a problem of available cash income to buy inputs and hire labour, as reported by several studies and reports, because smallholder technology is considered expensive and labour intensive. It is also felt that, because of acute seasonal labour shortages, more land, even if available, would not be a solution. The findings further suggest that less cultivated land and income could compel women farmers to seek cash income from outside work to support the family, which would tend to reduce the time available to work on their own farms. As a result, sometimes the smallholder's productivity was lower and there was less interaction with extension agents. In addition, extension agents were sometimes reluctant to work with these categories of women farmers. Hence, smallholders, especially female ones, should gain access to more inputs and better cost-effective technology so that the returns to the land they had would be greater, i.e. their productivity would increase.

1.1.7 Social participation index

An international workshop organized by FAO (1987) suggested that the most suitable method to communicate with women farmers was through the organization of farmers' groups. Table 8 indicates the variety of formal group organizations existing in the four countries where women farmers were entitled to membership. It shows that a large percentage of women farmers in the study areas in Nigeria (85.62%) and Thailand (72.50%) were members of different farmers' organizations, followed by Trinidad (25%) and Syria (3.75%). It is clear from the respective study areas that increased membership was due to the existing extension strategy for reaching women farmers through the T & V system. The data revealed on this subject in Syria and Trinidad is supported by FAO (1983) and a survey report (Anonymous, 1982). This result might be due to the lack of awareness of women farmers of the importance and benefits of enrolment in farmers' groups/cooperatives, or to the prevailing socio-cultural restrictions to membership in farmers' groups.

Table 8. Social participation of women farmers of the study areas in farmers' organizations in the four countries selected

Participation in farmers' organizations

Thailand %

Trinidad %

Nigeria %

Syria %

Women farmers' associations

22.50

13.75

26.86

 

Women farming groups

   

20.00

 

Farmers' cooperatives/ farmers' associations (men & women)

15.00

11.25

21.88

 

Credit society

   

2.50

 

Other social groups for women (better life, health, & religious groups, women's unions, etc.)

35.00

 

14.38

3.75

No involvement

27.50

75.00

14.38

96.25

1.1.8 Socio-economic status index

Table 9 reveals that the majority of women farmers in Thailand (51.25%) and Trinidad (47.50%) were from the middle socio-economic level, while in Nigeria 81.25% and in Syria 66.25% were from a low socio-economic level. Furthermore, it appears that only a low percentage of women farmers belonged to the high socio-economic level (18.75% in Trinidad and 13.75% in Thailand. This is consistent with Laxmi Devi's (1983) findings that the majority of women working in agriculture were of a lower socio-economic standing.

Table 9. Socio-economic status of women farmers in the study areas of the four countries selected .

Category of socio-economic status

Thailand %

Trinidad %

Nigeria %

Syria %

Low

35.00

33.75

81.25

66.25

Middle

51.25

47.50

18.75

33.75

High

13.75

18.75

   

From the above findings it can be seen that the women farmers of low socio-economic status would be compelled to work more hours in the fields as well as at home because of lack of labor saving farm implements. Moreover, due to the economic hardships of this group, they would be unlikely to buy recommended inputs for increasing agricultural productivity. As a result, they would be less interested in contacting extension agents for advice on improved and modern agricultural techniques.

1.2 Extent of women farmers' involvement in farm and reproductive activities

The data presented in Table 10 show the distribution of women farmers in the four study countries according to the major roles performed in farm as well as reproductive activities. It was found that more than 50% of the women farmers in all the study areas contributed labour regularly in areas such as transplanting, planting, weeding and harvesting, but most of them performed least for land preparation, application of pesticides and irrigation activities. This is in agreement with Henshall's (1984), FAO's (1983) and the World Bank's (1992) findings which state that women were more involved in lighter work that does not require great physical effort, but care and patience, such as planting, transplanting, weeding, thinning, threshing and harvesting.

Table 10: Involvement of women farmers in farm and reproductive activities of the study areas in four selected countries

Farm activities

Thailand %

Trinidad %

Nigeria %

Syria %

Seed bed preparation

42.50

61.25

43.13

48.75

Land clearing.

38.75

45.00

25.00

47.50

Land preparation

6.25

25.00

15.63

12.50

Transplanting

53.75

76.25

56.25

63.00

Planting

87.50

76.25

69.38

77.50

Application of fertilizers

50.00

52.50

40.63

37.50

Irrigation

20.00

36.25

15.63

25.00

Weeding

67.50

81.25

73.75

86.25

Application of pesticides

11.25

21.25

13.13

3.75

Harvesting

65.00

52.50

60.63

71.25

Transportation

6.25

18.75

73.13

3.75

Threshing/Winnowing

22.50

NA

56.25

26.25

Cleaning/bundling

11.25

73.75

64.38

36.25

Storing

35.00

45.00

71.25

42.50

Processing

41.25

43.75

91.25

63.75

Marketing

33.75

88.75

88.13

5.00

Care of livestock

36.25

15.00

35.00

53.75

Care of poultry

8.75

35.00

60.63

61.25

Reproductive activities

       

Cooking

92.50

81.25

74.38

93.75

Collecting fuel wood

13.75

NA

61.25

63.75

Collecting water

43.75

NA

64.38

61.25

Maintenance of house

71.25

65.00

53.75

51.88

Care of children

45.00

27.50

83.13

81.25

Note: NA = Not applicable

Furthermore, some variations are observed in the roles performed by women farmers in the areas such as transportation, marketing and storing in the study countries as seen in Table 10. It appears that marketing was done mainly by the women farmers in Nigeria (88.13%) and Trinidad (88.75%), whereas only 33.75% of the women farmers in Thailand and 5% in Syria undertook this task. It was also noted that, of the total, the majority of women farmers in Nigeria contributed more labour in transporting crops from the fields (73.13 %), storage of crops for family use (71.25%), processing (91.25%) and threshing (56.25%). In addition, it was found that more than 70% of women farmers in all the study areas prepared meals for their families. A large percentage of women farmers (over 60%) in Nigeria and Syria collected wood for fuel and water regularly for daily use, while in Thailand the percentage was low for fuel collecting but nearly 44% for water collection. More than 80% of women farmers in Nigeria and Syria took care of their children, while in Trinidad the percentage was only 27.5% and in Thailand 45% (Table 10). It is interesting to note that in Trinidad the women farmers utilized an improved labour saving technique for the preparation of meals and water for their daily use.

From the above findings it can be seen that most of the women farmers in the study countries performed dual roles in their day-to-day life, which meant that they spent more time and effort than the men. Therefore, women farmers might not have the time to have regular contacts with extension agents or to attend extension activities. It is also felt that poor access of the women farmers to extension services could be due to lack of proper attention to their dual roles by the extension planners and implementers when planning programme activities for the farmers and/or targeting them.

1.3 Participation of women farmers in making decisions on farm and reproductive activities

The data given in Table 11 presents interesting findings in the four study countries. It shows that a large percentage of both men and women in married households in the study areas in Thailand, Trinidad and Nigeria made farm decisions on: selection of crop site (70%, 55% and 46.25% respectively) and the crops to be planted (42.5%, 51.25% and 55.62% respectively) as well as on the adoption of new varieties of seeds (55%, 48.75% and 44.87% respectively), while in Syria farm decisions were found to be taken mostly by the husbands.

It is interesting to note that most of the women farmers in all the study areas of Thailand, Trinidad, Nigeria and Syria influenced decisions on what should be kept for family use and storage (86.25%; 67.5%; 63.75% and 61.25% respectively) and meals for the family (73.75%, 76.5%, 74.5% and 61.25% respectively).

Furthermore, Table 11 indicates that more than 80% of women farmers in Thailand and Trinidad took major decisions on management of family income, followed by 65% in Nigeria and 56.25% in Syria. It is also worth pointing out that, in married households in all the study areas, decisions about when and how to use pesticides were taken mostly by the husbands.

Table 11. Participation of women farmers in decision-making on farm and reproductive activities of the study areas in the four countries selected

Decision-making areas

Thailand %

Trinidad %

Nigeria %

Syria %

Selection of crop site to be planted

B (70.00)

B (55.00)

B (46.25)

H (53.75)

Selection of type of crops to plant

B (42.50)

B (51.25)

B (55.62)

H (52.50)

Adoption of new variety of seeds

B (55.00)

B (48.75)

B (44.87)

H (53.75)

Buying inputs

B (70.00)

H (48.75)

H (40.63)

H (86.25)

When and how to use fertilizers

B (65.00)

H (46.25)

B (39.00)

H (73.75)

When and how to use pesticides

H (70.00)

H (46.25)

H (75.00)

H (76.25)

Selling crops and where to sell

B (82 50)

B (61.25)

W (63.75)

H (81.25)

Seeking loans for farm resources

B (45.00)

NR

NR

NR

What to keep for family use and storage

W (86.25)

W (67.50)

W (63.75)

W (61.25)

Hired labour

B (43.25)

B (63.25)

B (53.75)

H (63.75)

Buying and selling of livestock and poultry

W (52.50)

B (55.71)

W (41.79)

B (63.75)

Management of income

W (87.50)

W (81.25)

W (65.00)

H (56.25)

Maintenance of house

W (52.50)

W (76.50)

W (53.75)

H (63.75)

Education of the children

W (87.50)

B (63.25)

B (43.75)

(53.75)

Meals for the family

W (73.75)

W (76.50)

W (74-50)

W (61.25)

Note: W = women farmer; H = husband; B= both husband and wife; NR = no response

The findings presented in Table 11 indicate some diversity between the different areas in the four countries in respect of women farmers' involvement in decision-making on farm and home-related tasks. Nevertheless, they show that most of the women farmers in three of the study countries (excluding Syria) were more involved in decision-making on the farm as well as in the home. This is inconsistent with the findings of Harry (1980), Sirisambhand et al. ( 1987), Reddock et al. (1990), Huggins (1991) and Akinbode (1991). Moreover, from the literature reviewed, it is observed that, traditionally, women had no definite decision-making role in the majority of family affairs because of the dominance of male members in the joint family system. The situation now seems to have changed owing to the disintegration of this family system in the rural areas. It is felt, considering the data obtained, that women farmers' involvement in farming decisions might help in the adoption of recommended packages of field crops received from the extension service. Moreover, this finding might have encouraged extension workers to include a higher percentage of women farmers in their regular extension activities along with other extension clients.

1.4 Average hours spent daily by women farmers on farm and reproductive activities

Average number of hours spent daily on farm and reproductive activities by women farmers in the four study countries are presented in Table 12. This indicates that women farmers in Nigeria spent an average of 7.86 hours daily on farm activities, followed by 7.50 hours in Trinidad, 6.25 hours in Thailand and 5.72 hours in Syria. When the time spent on farm activities was added to women's other responsibilities, women's working days became very long. As Table 12 shows, Nigerian women spent 6.40 hours daily on reproductive activities, resulting in a total of 14.26 hours' work for women. A similar picture emerges from the other three countries: 11.77 hours in Trinidad, 11.72 hours in Syria and 11.67 hours in Thailand. This is consistent with the findings of WAPIA (1990), World Bank (1989a.), Ashby (1985) and Bastone (1987).

It may be seen that most women farmers in the four countries were burdened with a double workload: farm as well as reproductive activities. On this subject, Saito and Spurling (1992) also stated that the dual domestic and production workload took up rural women's whole day. Women rarely had access to labour-saving, gender-specific technologies for farm and home activities. They failed to produce more and could not devote their valuable time to regular extension programme activities.

Table 12. Average number of hours spent daily on farm and reproductive activities by women farmers in the study areas of the four countries selected

Type of activities

Thailand (hours)

Trinidad (hours)

Nigeria (hours)

Syria (hours)

Farm

6.25

7.50

7.86

5.72

Reproductive

5.42

4.27

6.40

6.02

Total

11.67

11.77

14.26

11.74

1.5 Women farmers' access to production resources

Information on the access of women farmers to different production resources is presented in Tables 13 to 21 for interpretation in the present study. Better access to various production resources would encourage women to determine their ability to respond to new economic opportunities.

1.5.1 Sources of land

As shown in Table 13 the findings reflect a variety of sources of land cultivated by women farmers in the four study countries. It appears that only 22.5% of women farmers in Thailand were entitled to land ownership compared to 8.75% in Trinidad and 4.38% in Nigeria. It is also seen that the majority of women farmers in Syria (41.25%) cultivated their husband's land followed by 38.75% in Thailand 30% in Trinidad and 23% in Nigeria. It is interesting to note that 30.11 % of women farmers in Nigeria were provided with a small plot of land by their husbands as gifts for their own productive activity.

The data again show that women farmers in Thailand (28.75 %) Syria (22.50%) Trinidad (18.75%) and Nigeria (10.63%) rented land for their own cultivation. Furthermore it may be seen that in Syria 36.25% of women farmers used family land compared to 11.88% in Nigeria 10% in Thailand and 8.75% in Trinidad.

It appears from the results shown below that prevailing patterns of land ownership could be due to socio-cultural or land tenure practices in the different study countries. Recognizing male heads of households as title holders could increase the uncertainty regarding women's rights to have access to land. The lack of entitlement would discourage women's participation in agricultural support services particularly in extension and credit. In some countries land ownership was considered a requirement for the selection of contact farmers. Moreover title to land was the required collateral for obtaining credit from lending institutions. The uncertainty of women's access to land made it a problem for them to obtain the credit they might need to fully implement extension advice on the farm or to make the most productive use of their labour.

Table 13. Ownership of cultivated land of women farmers in the study areas in the four countries selected

Ownership of land

Thailand %

Trinidad %

Nigeria %

Syria %

Personally owned

22.$0

8.75

4.38

 

Husband's land

38.75

30.00

23.00

41.25

Gift from husband

   

30.11

 

Family land

10.00

8.75

11.88

36.25

Government land

 

25.00

   

Communal land

   

20.00

 

Squatted land

 

8.75

   

Rented land

28.75

18.75

10.63

22.50

1.5.2 Sources of improved farm implements

Table 14 reveals that less than 50% of the total number of women farmers used modern farm tools and implements: 46.25% in Thailand, 43.75% in Trinidad, 37.5% in Syria and 15% in Nigeria. In Thailand and Trinidad, approximately 25% of women farmers utilized the tools of their husbands, followed by a negligible percentage (5 %) in Syria. Moreover, in Nigeria and Syria a small percentage of women farmers borrowed tools from the extension service.

Table 14. Sources of improved farm implements used by women farmers in the study areas of the four countries selected

Sources of Improved farm implements

Thailand %

Trinidad %

Nigeria %

Syria %

Personally owned

 

2.50

   

Husband

25.00

28.75

 

5.00

Borrowed from neighbours/relatives

15.00

12. 50

 

15. 00

Borrowed from farmers' cooperatives

6.25

   

7.50

Borrowed from government

   

15.00

10.00

Do not use

53.75

56.25

85.00

62.50

It may also be noted that in only one of the four study countries - Trinidad - did women farmers possess modern farm implements in their own name and that was a very negligible percentage (2.5%). It is worth mentioning here that women farmers in all the study countries reported utilizing traditional farm implements such as hoes, cutlasses, axes, knives, etc. This is supported by Akinbode's findings (1991).

From the data it may be assumed that women farmers were not able to utilize improved farm implements due to the lack of adequate income or the availability of suitable technologies appropriate to their needs. Since women farmers use traditional farm tools, in general they spend more time on the farm than men and this could discourage them from participating in extension activities.

1.5.3 Sources of laborer in farm activities

Table 15 shows that women farmers in the four study countries obtained help for farm activities from various sources. In Trinidad, 47.5 % of women farmers hired manpower, compared to 43.75% in Thailand, 32.5% in Nigeria and 14.63% in Syria, mainly for the preparation of land. In Trinidad 40% of women farmers received help predominantly from their husbands, compared to 33.12% in Syria, 26.25% in Thailand and 17.5% in Nigeria. It is also noted that 25.37% of women farmers in Syria shared or exchanged farm labour with their neighbors/community, followed by 25% in Nigeria and 17.5% in Thailand.

Table 15. Sources of manpower of women farmers for farm activities in the study areas in the four countries selected

Manpower in farm activities

Thailand %

Trinidad %

Nigeria %

Syria %

Relatives

7.50

     

Children

2.50

3.75

15.63

26.88

Husband

26.25

40.00

17.50

33.12

Hired labour

43.75

47.50

32.50

14.63

Neighbors/community

17.50

 

25.00

25.37

None

2.50

8.75

9.37

 

Table 15 further indicates that one-third of women farmers in Syria (26.88%) rely on their children for farm help, compared to 15.63% in Nigeria, 3.75% in Trinidad and 2.5% in Thailand. From this data it can be assumed that the lack of improved farm tools and implements necessary for their range of farming activities could have compelled women farmers to hire help from different sources. Moreover, with less farm labour available in the family, women farmers might have been forced to shift to less labour-intensive crops which could have a lower monetary value.

1.5.4 Sources of improved varieties of seeds

A wide variety of sources of improved seeds such as garden/farm shops, government seed farms, the extension office and middle-men were found in the four study countries and are presented in Table 16. It appears that the highest percentage of women farmers using improved varieties of seeds was found in Trinidad (77.5%), compared to Thailand (48.75%), Nigeria (23%) and Syria (15%). In Nigeria, it was reported that the women farmers obtained improved varieties of cuttings and seeds from the extension service (Agricultural Development Projects), whereas in Trinidad nearly 48% and in Syria 15% of women farmers bought improved seeds from government seed farms.

Table 16. Sources of improved varieties of seeds for women farmers in the study areas in the four countries selected

Sources of seeds

Thailand %

Trinidad %

Nigeria %

Syria %

Garden/farm shop

22.50

30.00

   

Government seed farm

 

47.50

 

15.00

Extension office (ADP)

 

23.00

   

Middle-man

26.25

     

Not used

51.25

22.50

77.00

75.00

No response

     

10.00

From the above findings, it can be presumed that women farmers might not be able to utilize improved varieties of seeds due to the high cost of inputs on the open market. This could discourage women farmers from adopting extension advice on the farm and having contacts with the extension service.

1.5.5 Sources of fertilizers

Table 17 shows the various sources of fertilizers of the majority of women farmers in the four selected countries.' In Trinidad approximately 88% of women farmers obtained fertilizers from the garden shop, followed by 41.25% in Thailand and only 7.5% in Syria. Furthermore, the data show that the husband was one of the major sources for more than 56% of women farmers in Syria, whereas 57.5% of women farmers in Nigeria obtained fertilizer from the open village market and in Thailand 50% from middle-men.

As shown in Table 17, it appears that the majority of women farmers in the four study countries used fertilizers on their farms. This could be due to an adequate supply being available in the market at a price comparatively lower than that of other inputs, or to less complicated techniques. It is worth mentioning here that most of the women farmers in Nigeria who were unable to utilize fertilizers indicated that it was due to their high cost on the open market, as well as their non-availability at the right time.

Table 17. Sources of fertilizers for women farmers of the study areas in the four countries selected

Sources of fertilizers

Thailand %

Trinidad %

Nigeria %

Syria %

Garden/farm shop

41.25

87.50

 

7.50

Open market

   

57.50

 

Government office

       

Middle-man

50.00

     

Husband

     

56.25

Cooperatives

6.25

     

Not used

2 50

12.50

42 50

36 23

1.5.6 Sources of pesticides

As shown in Table 18, there was only one source of chemicals in all the study countries. The highest percentage of application of chemicals by women farmers was identified in Trinidad as 47.5%, compared to 38.75% in Thailand, 6.25% in Syria and 5% in Nigeria. This is inconsistent with Harry's findings (1980).

Table 18. Sources of pesticides for women farmers in the study areas in the four countries selected

Sources of pesticides

Thailand %

Trinidad %

Nigeria %

Syria %

Garden/farm shop

38.75

47.50

5.00

6.25

Not using chemicals

61.25

52.50

95.00

93.75

From the above results, it can be presumed that little use of chemicals by women farmers in two of the four study countries might be due to high cost or lack of proper technical knowledge or skills in spraying chemicals, or higher risk in the cultivation of subsistence crops.

1.5.7 Sources of credit

Table 19 reveals that the majority of women farmers in Thailand - 61.25% - borrowed money from different sources for farm activities (30% from relatives, 22.5% from middle-men, 5% from farmers' groups and 3.75% from an agricultural bank), whereas in the other three study countries women had limited access to financial assistance.

Table 19. Sources of credit for women farmers in the study areas of the four countries selected

Sources of credit

Thailand %

Trinidad %

Nigeria %

Syria %

Farmers' groups

5.00

     

Women farmers' groups

 

11.88

   

Agricultural farmers' cooperatives

   

3.75

 

Agricultural banks

3.75

1.25

   

Middle-men

22.50

     

Relatives/neighbors

30.00

     

No borrowing

38.75

98.75 88.12

87.50

 

No response

   

8.75

 

As Table 19 shows, none of the women farmers in Nigeria and Syria received financial assistance from agricultural banks and a very negligible percentage of women farmers in Thailand (3.75%) and Trinidad (1.25%) obtained bank loans for buying farm inputs. This finding is similar to that of the World Bank (1989a.) and Dulyapach's (1985). The researcher assumed that limited access to credit could be due to lack of entitlement to land ownership, as required by lending institutions as collateral, or of membership in farmers' cooperatives. Moreover, women farmers might not be aware, or have little knowledge of the purpose, amount and complicated official procedure for obtaining loans or for repayment with interest. Further data suggest that the lack of adequate access to cash income discouraged women farmers from buying recommended inputs provided by the extension service. It could also discourage extension agents from targeting this group of farmers in their programmes.

1.5.8 Sources of marketing outlets

Table 20 shows the different markets where women farmers sold the crops they produced. It is interesting to note that there was no permanent marketing source for selling women farmers' produce in all the study countries. Available data indicates that in Trinidad about 89 % of women farmers marketed their crops in both wholesale and retail markets, whereas in Nigeria approximately 68% of women farmers sold their crops in the open village market. Moreover, nearly 50% of women farmers in Thailand and in Syria sold their crops through middle-men. It is assumed that the government of each country has not given any attention to food crops produced mainly by women farmers. Lack of membership in farmers' cooperatives could also affect the marketing of farm produce. As a result of there being few marketing incentives for women farmers from the government and other sources, extension agents could not easily motivate women farmers to invest their existing seasonal income in recommended inputs for their farm work.

Table 20. Kind of market for women farmers of the study areas in the four countries selected for selling farm produce

Type of market

Thailand %

Trinidad %

Nigeria %

Syria %

Wholesale market

1.25

22.50

   

Both wholesale and retail market

 

47.50

   

Retail market (women direct)

32.50

18.75

19.87

5.00

Retail market (through family members)

     

40.00

Village open market

   

68.26

 

Middle-man

46.25

   

45.00

Not using any market

20.00

11.25

11 87

10.00

The above data presented in Tables 13 to 20 will help the extension planners and implementers to understand the various sources of production resources of women farmers, especially with respect to land, equipment, labour, fertilizers, pesticides, credit and marketing facilities. It could also help them to prepare extension packages best suited to farming women's resources, so that greater numbers of needy women farmers could participate in extension activities.

1.6. Frequency of advice received by women farmers from extension agents during 1992

Table 21 presents data from the four study areas concerning the frequency of advice received by women farmers from field extension staff. It indicates that a large percentage of women farmers in Nigeria were visited by extension agents over the last two months - 78.13%, 58.75% in Syria and 35% in Thailand. It also reveals that nearly 44% of women farmers in Trinidad had not been visited by extension agents at all. Similar data were reported in Trinidad by Rajak (1990) and the World Bank (1991b.).

Table 21. Women farmers in the study areas of the four countries selected visited by extension agents during 1992

Frequency of visits

Thailand %

Trinidad %

Nigeria %

Syria %

Less than a month ago

5.00

 

44.37

16.25

About a month ago

7.50

 

26.88

25.00

About two months ago

22.50

3.75

6.88

17.50

About six months ago

38.75

15.00

 

18.75

Six to twelve month ago

 

37.50

   

Not visited

26.25

43.75

21.87

22.50

The researcher assumes that, where a larger number of women farmers had been visited by extension agents, official working instructions had been given by the extension service to the field agents to target women in their regular extension programme, both separately and together with male contact farmers. Moreover, an existing extension strategy to work with female groups in Nigeria could have caused an increase in the number of women contacted regularly for agricultural advice. In contrast to this, the timing and channels of communication established for delivering extension messages might sometimes be suitable only for men, which would of course affect the number of women contacted by extension agents. Thus it could be deduced that extension agents were unable to communicate with women farmers effectively due to lack of adequate knowledge about their farming problems and needs and proper training on how to work with women farmers separately or in contact groups.

1.7 Present sources of agricultural advice for women farmers

It appears from Table 22 that women farmers in the selected study countries had various indirect channels of communication through which they received advice on agricultural matters. The majority of women farmers in Nigeria (58.12%) and Syria (41.25%) rated extension workers as their primary source, whereas a very negligible percentage of women farmers in Trinidad (8.75%) and in Thailand (6.25%) considered extension agents as a source of advice for solving farming problems. Similar findings were reported by Rajak (1990) in her survey in Trinidad. Further, it is interesting to note that, except for Trinidad (40%), only a very low percentage of women farmers in Thailand (13.75%), Nigeria (13.13%) and Syria (7.5%) received agricultural advice from their husbands. This finding does not agree with the statement of development planners that "information given to male farmers will be passed along to other farming members of the household" (Saito and Weidemann, 1990). On the other hand, it is correlated with the findings of Fortmann (1978) and Spring (1985) who indicate that agricultural knowledge acquired by males often does not "trickle across" effectively to females in the family. It also revealed that 27.5% of women in Syria talked with their neighbors and friends about their farm problems, followed by 22.5% in Thailand, 16.25% in Nigeria and 12.5% in Trinidad. This finding is in line with the report of the World Bank (Saito and Spurling, 1992).

Table 22. Sources of agricultural advice for women farmers in the study areas of the four countries selected

Sources

Thailand %

Trinidad %

Nigeria %

Syria %

Extension workers

6.25

8.75

58.12

41.25

Husbands

13.75

40.00

13.13

7.50

Neighbors/friends

22.50

12.50

16.25

27.50

Relatives

32.50

     

Garden/farm shop

 

25.00

   

No advice received

25.00

13.75

12.50

23.75

From the above findings, it is considered that extension agents could lose the confidence of women farmers due to a lack of proper communication and an inability to deliver extension messages effectively.

1.8 Problems faced by women farmers in farm activities

Table 23 shows the main problems faced by women farmers in the four study countries in order of importance. They are recorded on a five-point scale, i.e. 'most important', 'important', 'quite important', 'less important' and 'not at all important' and are scored as 4, 3, 2, 1 and 0 respectively.

It is revealed that the high cost of farm inputs, excessive weeds and lack of storage facilities were ranked as some of the worst problems in all the study countries. Similar findings were reported by Hassan (1987) and Pemberton (1989). A lack of improved tools and implements was ranked as the greatest problem in Syria and the second major problem in Nigeria, whereas it was ranked seventh in Thailand and Trinidad. It is interesting to note that a smaller amount of cultivated land was ranked fifth by Nigeria and Trinidad, ninth by Syria and tenth by Thailand. In addition, crop infestation by pests and insects and lack of good market prices were considered some of the greatest problems by the women farmers of Nigeria, Thailand and Trinidad, while they were rated sixth and eighth respectively in Syria.

The information shown in Table 23 on agricultural problems as perceived by women farmers serves to illustrate extension areas which could form the basis for improving the relevance of extension programmes. Consideration of these prioritized problem areas in extension programming would improve women's access to extension services.

Table 23. Ranking of problems faced by women farmers in the study areas of the four countries selected

Problem areas

Thailand

Trinidad

Nigeria

Syria

Smaller amount of cultivated land

10th

5th

5th

9th

High cost of farm inputs (fertilizers/chemicals)

3rd

2nd

1st

2nd

Lack of improved varieties of seeds

8th

8th

7th

7th

Lack of improved tools and implements

7th

7th

2nd

1st

Shortage of labour

4th

4th

5th

6th

Lack of credit facilities

6th

9th

6th

4th

Crops infested by pests/insects

1st

3rd

2nd

6th

Lack of transportation

2nd

6th

3rd

3rd

Excessive weeds

3rd

1st

1st

3rd

Lack of water/irrigation

9th

10th

5th

5th

Lack of storage facilities

2nd

1st

3rd

3rd

Inadequate market prices

2nd

3rd

1st

8th

Lack of marketing facilities

5th

5th

4th

10th

1.9 Expressed need areas of women farmers for agricultural advice

Table 24 shows the ranking of each extension topic identified by women farmers in the study areas of the four countries selected. Weed control, crop storage and food processing were ranked as three of the most important extension topics by all the women farmers, while the item of cultivation techniques was considered to be less important.

Furthermore, the subject of selection and use of fertilizers was given second preference by the women farmers of Thailand, while it was ranked seventh in Trinidad and eighth in both Nigeria and Syria.

These findings could be useful for extension planners and implementers when setting up programmes targeting women farmers. They show that women farmers might participate more in extension programmes if they were more relevant to their priority areas for advice.

Table 24. Ranking of agricultural extension topics preferred by women farmers of the study areas in the four countries selected

Agricultural extension topics

Thailand

Trinidad

Nigeria

Syria

Cultivation techniques

9th

13th

12th

11th

Soil fertility

8th

12th

10th

10th

Selection of good varieties of seeds

3rd

3rd

5th

4th

Selection and use of fertilizers

2nd

7th

8th

8th

Pest control

10th

5th

3rd

9th

Weed control

1st

2nd

1st

2nd

Crop production/mixed cropping

7th

6th

6th

6th

Harvesting techniques

6th

4th

13th

5th

Crop storage

3rd

1st

1st

2nd

Care of livestock

11th

9th

9th

8th

Care of poultry

5th

8th

7th

7th

Marketing

4th

10th

11th

12th

Credit advice

12th

11th

4th

1st

Food processing

3rd

2nd

2nd

3rd

1.10 Women farmers' gender preference of extension agents

One of the major issues related to women's accessibility to extension advice is whether the extension agents who advise women farmers should be male or female. Responses on this issue collected from women farmers in the four study countries are summarized in Table 25.

Table 25. Gender preferences of women farmers of the study areas in the four countries selected

Gender preference

Thailand %

Trinidad %

Nigeria %

Syria %

Male extension worker

10.00

5.00

16.25

 

Female extension worker

41.25

27.50

65.62

82.50

No gender preference

48.75

67.50

18.13

17.50

As shown in Table 25, the gender of extension agents did not appear to be an important issue for about 68% of women farmers in Trinidad and nearly 49% in Thailand. On the other hand, it shows that many of the respondents in Syria (82.5%) and Nigeria (65.62%) preferred female extension workers. This could be because women farmers feel shy and hesitate to speak up in meetings in front of male extension agents because of their lower educational levels. Also, the women farmers expressed the opinion that male extension agents gave less attention to women's questions if meetings were held with mixed groups of farmers. The same type of findings were reported by Krogh (1988) and Evans (1989). However, it appears that the cultural milieu of the women farmers could be the determining factor influencing preferences for a female extension worker by the women farmers.

2. Capacity of agricultural extension services in the four study countries to serve women farmers

2.1 Mandate of agricultural extension services

2.1.1 Need for women farmers to be recognized in agricultural extension policy objectives and guidelines for the operation of extension programmes

As shown in Table 26, three of the four study countries (Thailand, Nigeria and Syria) have recognized women as fully-fledged farmers in the "Statement of National Agricultural Policy", as reported by administrators of the respective organizations, while in Trinidad women farmers were not mentioned in the agricultural policy.

It was also noted that none of the policies of agricultural extension in the four study countries clearly identified women farmers as a specific target clientele group, or provided a clear mandate for their agricultural extension service.

Furthermore, there were no apparent gender-sensitive operational guidelines in the selected study countries, except in Nigeria.

It is worth mentioning here that the policies of extension programmes in Thailand, Nigeria and Syria targeted small farmers for participation in the extension service. But from Table 26 it can be seen that women farmers were not included officially as a specific target group for participation in the objectives of agricultural extension policies despite several years of agricultural roles (FAO, 1993). Clear policy guidelines provided both the mandate and direction for organizing effective agricultural extension programmes for women farmers but, apart from this, agricultural extension continues to be heavily biased toward men (Spens, 1986). Furthermore, when countries do not have a clearly stated agricultural extension policy for women farmers, donors' recommended gender approaches may not be effectively applied for the achievement of countries' long-term agricultural development goals.

Table 26. Extension mandate of the four study countries selected in relation to women farmers in 1992

Mandates

Thailand

Trinidad

Nigeria

Syria

Address women farmers in agricultural policy

Clear

Not clear

Clear

Clear

Women farmers as clientele group in agricultural extension policy

Not clear

Not clear

Not clear

Not clear

Gender guidelines in the operation of agricultural extension programmes

Not clear

Not given

Clear

Not given

2.1.2 Specific clientele group in extension

Table 27 focuses on various extension clientele groups who are expected to be targeted by agricultural extension services in the four study countries. It is observed that two groups, namely small farmers and women farmers, were given special attention for participation in three of the study countries, with the exception of Trinidad. This is inconsistent with FAO's (1987 and 1990a.) findings which stated that these two disadvantaged groups frequently had little or no access to extension services and most agricultural extension was directed to men.

Hence the present findings suggest that specific and practical steps should be taken when planning extension programmes for women farmers, with the intention of improving their productivity and access to resources that will increase their income levels and quality of life. In line with this, the 1989 FAO survey data showed that about 5% of all agricultural extension resources worldwide were directed to female farmers. Furthermore, all groups of farmers, especially resource-poor women and young farmers, should be encouraged to form or to enroll in farmers' organizations that serve their specific needs. Such organizations should reflect the needs of these major target groups and the socio-cultural realities of the country concerned.

Table 27. Clientele groups specified by extension organizations in 1992 in the four study countries selected

Clientele group

Thailand

Trinidad

Nigeria

Syria

Farmer

_/

_/

 

_/

Small Farmer

_/

 

_/

_/

Housewife

_/

     

Women farmer

_/

 

_/

_/

Rural youth

_/

_/

   

Women

   

_/

 

Young farmer

_/

     

Others: bee-keepers, home gardeners

 

_/

   

Note: _/ = group existed

2.2 Organizational structure pattern

As can be seen in Figures 6, 7, 8 and 9, the organizational structure pattern to serve women farmers at the grass-roots level was more or less the same in all the study countries.

The following salient characteristics were observed in the four different organizational structures:

1. All the study countries provided information on the availability of subject-matter specialists to link extension to the research system and to provide technical backstopping and in-service technical training to the field staff. In Thailand, Nigeria and Syria they were reported as being at the zonal and provincial levels. In Trinidad, they were at the central level. Furthermore, they represented the subject-matter areas of rice crops, horticultural crops, crop protection, crop production, animal husbandry and home economics.

2. It was also mentioned that the extension services of Thailand and Nigeria had clear lines of authority with provincial/zonal subject-matter specialists to train and supervise field extension agents.

Figure 6: Organizational Extension Structure Pattern in Thailand

 

Ministry of Agriculture & Cooperatives

 

Director General of Department of Agricultural Extension

Central administration :

     
 

Directors of Different Divisions(12)*

 

Directors

   
 

Regional agricultural Extension offices(6)

Provincial Administration:

     
 

Provincial Agricultural officer(73)

Deputy Administration

Deputy Technical

   

Business

Agricultural Administration

Planning

Subject matter specialist (including H.E)

District level

District Agricultural Extension officer and one Assistant Agricultural officer (759)

Sub District Level

Home Economics Extension officer

Sub District (Tambon)

     

Agil. Extension Agents

     

Village level

     

Contact group

Farmer's group

Youth group

Women group

 

(Male & Female)

   

(Note: * A division that has its operating units at the provincial level)

Figure 7: Organizational Extension Structure Pattern in Trinidad

 

Ministry of Agriculture, Land and Marine Resources

 

Central Administration

 

Chief Technical officer

Director of North Regional Division

Director of Extension Core Division

Director of South Regional Division

Deputy Director

Deputy Director (Specialist Services)

Deputy Director (Extension)

Deputy Director

Professional

Extension staff

Assigned to Region from

Core Extension Division

Extension unit

Extension unit

County level Extension :

Agricultural officer II

Agricultural Officer II

AO

AO

AO

AO

AO

AO

AO

AO

District level

A.A

A.A

A.A

A.A

A.A

A.A

A.A

A.A

AEA

AEA

AEA

AEA.

AEA

AEA

AEA

AEA

Farmers (male and female)

(Note; AO I = Agricultural officer I; AA = Agricultural Assistant I, II, III; AEA = Agricultural Extension Aide)

Figure 8: Organizational Extension Structure Pattern for Unified Agricultural Extension System, Nigeria

Federal Ministry of Agricultural and Natural Resources

Commissioner

Director General of Agriculture

Head Quarter Level

Programme manager of Agricultural Development Project (ADP)

Head of Extension

Head of technical services

Assistant head of Crops, Livestock ,WIA, Agro-forestry, or Fisheries etc. (Specialist services)

 

Zonal level

Zonal Manager

Zonal Extension officer

Subject matter Specialist

Extension Area Level

Area Extension Officers

Block level

 

Block extension Supervisor

*BEA(WIA)

Village level:

 

Village Extension Agent

 

(Male and female)

 

Male farmer

Female farmer

(Note: *BEA = Block extension agent responsible for female farmer)

Figure 9: Organizational Extension Structure Pattern in Syria

Ministry of Agriculture and Agrarian Reform

Director General of agriculture

Director of Department of Agricultural Extension

National level

Assistant Director of Different Technical Agricultural Extension Divisions(5)

Director of Agriculture

Provincial Level

Assistant Director of Agriculture

Chief, Division of Agricultural Extension

Experimental Division

Technical Division

Home economics Division

Information Division

Programme Division

       

District level

 

Chief of Extension circles

       

Village level

 

Chief of Extension Unit

Male Agricultural Engineers

Female Agricultural Engineers

 

Male Farmers

Female farmers

 

(Note: A division has its operating units at the provincial level)

3. Female extension staff (both in agriculture and home economics) were officially instructed to serve women farmers, particularly in three of the study countries with the exception of Trinidad. It was noted that female field extension staff in Thailand and Nigeria were reported at district level. In Syria, female field extension staff were reported at village level.

4. Two of the four study countries, namely Thailand and Nigeria, reported the existence of monitoring and evaluation units in agricultural extension systems to provide the basis for improving management, the system's performance on a continuing basis and to measure the specific extension impacts.

5. Home economics programmes such as nutrition, food processing, food preservation, cooking, child care, health care, etc., were also included as important extension programme activities for women farmers within the agricultural extension services of the ministries of agriculture in Thailand, Nigeria and Syria. It was observed by the researcher that in Thailand and Syria female field extension staff gave greater emphasis to home economics programmes than agriculture during the years 1992 and 1993.

6. In addition, data from three of the study countries (except Nigeria) showed the existence of other specialized sections within the extension service, such as publications, audio-visual, information and training. In Nigeria, educational extension materials were provided by research centres (e.g the National Agricultural Extension Research Liaison Services, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Nigeria).

The above discussion implies that the organizational structure of the extension services in the four study countries was quite satisfactory to cope with women's needs for agricultural information.

2.3 Organizational provision to serve women farmers

A separate women's section has been set up in the extension services in Thailand, Nigeria, and Syria. Available data are presented as follows:

Above all it was observed from the study that there were both advantages and disadvantages in all these arrangements. In Thailand it was known that agricultural field extension staff were supposed to backstop the home economists, but that they did not perceive them as agricultural professionals. Therefore in reality, female extension staff did not receive genuine technical support from them in implementing the agricultural programme activities for women farmers. In Nigeria, the female extension staff were regularly supported by the general agricultural extension agents when conducting field activities for women farmers. Further, the home economics field extension staff of Nigeria and Thailand stated that they did not have enough confidence in themselves to transfer improved agricultural messages, due to lack of adequate practical training in agricultural subjects. It was also mentioned that fortnightly meetings (i.e. twice a month) with agricultural extension agents in Thailand and Nigeria could not make them competent enough to communicate adequate technical agricultural messages to women farmers. Similar findings were also observed by FAO (1987) and De Lancey and Elwy (1989) who mentioned that home economics personnel often lacked the training either to identify agricultural production problems, or to give advice on agriculture and related areas. In addition, it is worth mentioning that, in Thailand, most of the home economics field extension staff expressed their unwillingness to have specific training in agricultural subjects to assist women farmers. In Syria, the female agricultural field extension staff were instructed to communicate messages on home economics subjects to women farmers along with agricultural extension programme activities, but they were not included in their agricultural training curriculum.

From the above discussion, it is clear that there is a need for improvement in the existing specific women extension sections to serve women farmers more effectively in agricultural programme activities.

2.4 Attitude of extension personnel towards women as farmers

The attitude of extension personnel towards women as farmers was measured with the help of an attitude index consisting of 10 statements (five positive and five negative). It appeared (see Table 28) that more than 70% of the respondents in the four study countries had a favourable attitude towards women's integration into agricultural work. This is inconsistent with FAO's findings (1987).

Table 28. Attitude of extension personnel in extension services towards women as farmers in the four study countries selected

Category of response (score range)

Thailand %

Trinidad %

Nigeria %

Syria %

Respondent by gender

         

M (%)

F (%)

Highly favourable

75 00

71.25

92.00

85.00

75.76

100

Favourable

25.00

28.75

 

15.00

24.24

0.00

Less favourable

       

0.00

0. 00

No response

   

8.00

     

Note: M = Male and F = Female

Table 28 could also indicate that female officials were considered more positively than the male officials.

The above information could help policymakers, planners and extension agents to provide clear directives regarding women farmers' efforts to gain access to critical knowledge and inputs for the improvement of their productivity. It could also encourage more constructive extension planning for reaching women farmers. Moreover, it facilitates the discussion with policymakers and high-level officials on national policy statements on women farmers as a very important target group, with the same rights as male farmers, e.g. land ownership, access to inputs, credit, acquisition of knowledge and skills for agricultural production, marketing facilities, etc., in order to effectively improve the extension service for women farmers.

2.5 Extension approaches and methods used in extension services

For every extension programme there is a predominant "approach" in which there is a choice of "method", within which a number of different "activities" are selected (FAO, 1993). In the present study the term "approach" is used to mean the organizing framework for the delivery of extension services to women farmers. In an attempt to discover which were the predominant extension approaches and methods used by gender, each organization was requested to specify which of the three most common extension approaches (individual; T & V; and group) was being followed and which extension methods were used (individual, group and mass media methods). Each of these approaches and methods have implications for the participation of female farmers.

Respondents checked more than one response to this question which biased the interpretation of the data. Nevertheless, it was reported that the most predominant extension approach in relation to women being applied in Nigeria was the T & V system, as heavily supported by the World Bank. In Trinidad and Syria, the individual extension approach was reported as most predominant. In Thailand, the group approach was used by the extension service with women farmers.

Table 29. Extension approaches used in 1992 in relation to women farmers in the four study countries selected

 

Individual approach

T & V approach

Group approach

Study countries

Male

Female

Male

Female

Male

Female

Thailand

   

_/

_/

 

_/ *

Trinidad

_/

_/ *

_/

   

/

Nigeria

   

_/

_/ *

 

_/

Syria

_/

_/ *

     

_l

Note: _/ = existing approach; * = identifies predominant approach used

From Table 29 it can be seen that a minimum of two types of extension approach was used with women farmers by all the study countries. In general, all the selected study countries seemed to favour contact with women farmers through the group approach. Furthermore, in Trinidad and Syria extension agents were not officially instructed to form or to identify existing women's groups for extension contact for delivering agricultural messages.

In addition to the above, Table 30 presents the data on extension methods used in extension programmes in relation to women farmers and the extent of emphasis derived from the data reported by the administrators of the four study countries. The information was collected on a three-point scale: high, moderate and low extent of emphasis.

Table 30 indicates that the group method was being used and was highly emphasized in Thailand and Nigeria when working with women farmers. In Trinidad and Syria, women farmers were mostly contacted through personal visits which were highly emphasized by the extension service. From the findings, it may be deduced that methods could have been selected bearing in mind the total coverage of farmers by an extension agent or the existing extension approach. In Syria and Trinidad, the extension agents stated that sometimes they contacted women farmers in groups informally so that they could deliver some extension messages altogether. In addition, three of the study countries, Syria, Thailand and Trinidad, indicated a certain amount of emphasis on the mass-media method.

Table 30. Extension methods used and the extent of emphasis in relation to women farmers in the four countries selected in 1992

Study countries

Individual

Group

Mass media

 

Male

Female

Male

Female

Male

Female

Thailand

High

Low

Low

High

Moderate

Moderate

Trinidad

High

High

Low

Low

Moderate

Moderate

Nigeria

High

Low

Low

High

Low

Low

Syria

High

High

Low

Moderate

Moderate

Moderate

In reviewing the above discussions, there seems to be a reasonable balance of effort to serve women farmers as part of a comprehensive extension strategy. It is clearly shown that more than one extension approach and method, suitable and appropriate for all conditions of target clientele group, were used. It can be assumed that where the extension agent: farmer ratio was high, extension would tend to use the group approach. Also, it may be realised from the study countries' data that working with women's groups not only had a positive effect on extension agents' contacts, but also reduced the high cost of personal contacts and the financial situation of the study countries.

2.6 Extension activities planned and completed by extension services in 1992

It should be mentioned that agricultural extension activities in Thailand and Trinidad were not planned by gender. So it is difficult to isolate the specific contributions of the extension service particularly to women farmers and to measure the impact directly. The researcher determined extension outputs by measuring the types of educational activities completed, either at the individual field extension agent level of analysis, or for the extension organization as a whole.

Table 31. Average number of extension activities completed by each extension agent in 1992 in relation to women farmers in the study areas of the four countries selected

Extension activities

Thailand (No.)

Trinidad (No.)

Nigeria (No.)

Syria (No.)

Individual farm/home visits

 

22

12

55

Farmers' groups educational meetings/classes

22

8

24

15

Method demonstration

9

4

18

9

Farmer field days

5

 

8

 

Note: ( - ) = No response

Tables 31 and 32 summarize the average number of extension activities completed in 1992 in the four study areas by extension agents and their respective extension organizations. As shown in Table 31, the average number of field extension agents in Syria, Trinidad and Nigeria (excluding Thailand) completed 55, 22 and 12 farm and home visits respectively in 1992. Further, it is indicated that 24, 22, 15 and 8 extension educational meetings were, on an average, completed by extension agents in Nigeria, Thailand, Syria and Trinidad respectively.

From the limited data available (Table 32), it appears that, in Nigeria and Syria, women farmers were targeted particularly in extension farmers' meetings and method demonstration. Furthermore, it is interesting to note that, in Thailand and Nigeria, the female field extension agents gave prior emphasis to the formation of women's groups as a channel for their extension contact, which was considered one of their extension activities for women farmers within the mainstream of agricultural extension programmes. However, there are a number of interesting country differences in terms of the relative proportion of individual, group, and mass media outputs completed (Table 31 and Table 32). These differences are reflected in the predominant extension approach or strategy being pursued by different countries to reach farmers, women farmers in particular. Overall there was an impressive range of educational activities undertaken to reach farmers, both male and female, in 1992 in the four study countries.

2.7 Women's participation in extension programme development

Each extension organization was asked to indicate the level of women's participation in extension programme development on a four-point scale (0 = not involved to 4 = very involved). None of the respondents provided direct answers to the questions asked. Participation of women farmers in extension programme development was not a routine practice in all the four study countries. On the other hand, there was no formal representative of women farmers to provide feedback at the administrative level of operation in the four study countries.

It is indicated that none of the study countries has made a systematic effort to include women clients in extension planning and gender-specific agricultural programme development. This seems to be inconsistent with the suggestions made by many scholars, development practitioners and technical assistance and donor agencies, such as FAO and IFAD which called for a more participatory approach to extension. Hence, the finding suggests that, since the extension system in all the study countries was too top-down in focus, they needed a more systematic assessment of clients' needs and client participation in programme formulation to keep their programmes relevant to the needs of all women farmers.

2.8 Research-extension linkages

A major issue in the agricultural development field today concerns the strengthening of linkages between research and extension. There should be particular concern about gender-specific technology transfer. Administrators of the extension services in the countries concerned were asked to assess the strength of the extension/research linkage on gender specific problems using a five point scale (0 = no linkage; 1 = very weak; 2 = weak; 3 = when the need arises; 4 = strong and 5 = very strong).

Table 32. Number of extension activities and educational materials completed in 1992 in relation to women farmers by the extension services of the four study countries selected

EXTENSION ACTIVITIES

Thailand

Trinidad

Nigeria*

Syria

Individual activities

       

Farm visits

Not given

Not given

55494 (F)

 

Home visits

Not given

Not given

965(W)

 

Group activities

       

Farmers' educational meetings

Not given

26

106(W)

499(W)

Establish demonstration plots

Not given

Not given

503(W)

 

Method demonstration

Not given

Not given

106(W)

297(W)

Formation of women's groups

408,84

 

330

 

Farmer field days

Not given

 

36(W) 3128(F)

149(F)

Mass media activities

       

Extension leaflets

65

**39550

Not given

1

Newsletters

24

**3000

NU

 

Extension manuals

75

**2500

Not given

12

Extension posters

42

10

   

Extension bulletins

24

 

Not given

 

Slides

 

5

NU

NU

Film projections

   

NU

512(F)

TV advertisements

 

NU

NU

30(F)

Theatres

NU

NU

NU

64(F)

Educational video programmes

330

2

NU

 

Radio broadcast

70

17

5(W)

126(F)

Note: * = Data presented from study States. NU = Not used in extension programme activities (-) = no response; F = For both male and female farmer; W = Women farmer; ** = Total prints of educational materials

The respondents of two of the four study countries (Thailand and Nigeria) rated research extension linkages as "when the need arises", while in Trinidad and Syria it was rated as very weak.

2.9 Monitoring and evaluation

Because of the importance of monitoring and evaluation of the extension system in order to discover its success in reaching women farmers, each extension service administrator was requested to assess the strength of operation by using a five-point scale (0 = no response; 1 = very weak; 2 = weak; 3 = moderately strong; 4 = strong and 5 = very strong).

Two of the extension services - in Thailand and Nigeria - reported their mode of operating the monitoring and evaluation system as 'weak', while in Syria and Trinidad it was rated as 'very weak'. In this context, it should be mentioned that two of the study countries

(Nigeria and Syria) recorded a number of women farmers as being reached by agricultural extension activities by monthly or quarterly reports, meetings, discussions and visits, due to a clear directive from the service, whereas in Thailand and Trinidad less attention was given by the extension service to recording sex desegregated data.

The poor monitoring and evaluation system of extension activities in the study areas could be due to scarce resources (funds, inadequate extension personnel, transportation, etc.) of the national governments, inadequate training of extension personnel in the methods and skills of monitoring and evaluation of programme activities and the lack of clear directives from the extension service. It could be suggested that the lack of proper monitoring and evaluation could affect policy-makers and economic planners when considering extension objectives to target women farmers and an increase in funds for gender-specific programmes.

2.10 Female extension personnel differentiated by gender and position

A genera] overview of groups of extension personnel, including administrative and supervisory staff, technical and subject-matter specialists and field extension staff by gender and position in the study areas in the four countries selected during 1992 is presented in Table 33. It reveals that, in Thailand, 13% of the administrators in the extension service were female, while in Syria and Nigeria only 1%.

Among the technical and subject-matter specialists, there were a few more women than administrators, ranging from 40% in Thailand and Syria to 29% in Trinidad and 13% in Nigeria.

Furthermore, 31% of the field agricultural extension agents in Trinidad were female, 28% in Thailand, 14% in Syria and only 0.62% in Nigeria.

The number of home economics agents was not available in Trinidad or Syria. However, in Nigeria and Thailand 21% and 15% female field extension agents respectively were home economists.

Table 33. Extension staff distributed by gender in 1992 in the four countries selected

 

Administrators/ Supervisors

Technical or Subject- matter Specialist

Field extension staff

 

Total

Male (%)

Female (%)

Total

Male (%)

Female (%)

Total

Agriculture

Home economics

Animal husb.

Female extension staff

               

Male (%)

Female (%)

Male (%)

Female (%)

Male (%)

Female (%)

No.

%

Thailand

16

88.00

12.00

5

60.00

40.00

40

58.00

27.00

0

15.00

0

0

17

43.00

Trinidad

4

100.00

0

7*

71.00

29.00

13

69.00

31.00

0

0

0

0

4

31.00

Nigeria

163

99.00

1.00

24

88.00

12.00

649

78.00

1.00

0

21.00

0

0

143

22.00

Syria

148

99.00

1.00

10

60.00

40.00

682

51.00

14.00

0

0

35.00

0

97

14.00

* reported at central level

In addition, in 1992 in the study areas of Thailand and Trinidad it was estimated that about 43 % and 31 % of field extension staff were female, irrespective of subject-matter area. This seems to be satisfactory compared to 22% and 14% in Nigeria and Syria respectively. It is interesting to note that, of the total number of female extension agents in Nigeria, 97% were home economists, followed by 35% in Thailand.

From the above discussion, it can be suggested that, in the long-term, more female agricultural staff should be recruited to assist women farmers effectively with agricultural problems considering the situation of the extension areas. But in the short-term, it is suggested that female home economics extension agents who are already working with women farmers be redeployed within the service to help solve the problems. They should be provided with in-service training, particularly in agricultural subjects, to fill the gaps in their knowledge.

As shown in Table 33, in all the study countries the majority of field agricultural extension agents were male (86% in Syria, 78% in Nigeria, 69% in Trinidad and 57% in Thailand). But the percentage of women field extension workers in this study is higher than the figures reported for the 1989 Global Consultation on Agricultural Extension. The researcher assumes that the gender of extension agents might not be considered a major issue for reaching women farmers in all the countries selected, which is explored in Tables 21 and 25. But in Syria, most of the women farmers were visited by female extension agents only due to socio-cultural factors of the interaction between non-related men and women. Hence, in the immediate future an important measure could be to train more male extension agents to work with women farmers.

2.11 Ratio of subject-matter specialists (SMS) to field extension agents

Table 33 further presents the ratio of subject-matter specialist to field extension agent. There are major country differences in the number of subject-matter specialists available in the extension service to support field extension staff. Based on other research (Swanson et al., 1990) it appears that a functionally effective SMS to field extension agent ratio would be approximately 1 to 4-5, or about 20% SMSs with at least an M.Sc. degree, or equivalent training, and extensive field experience. It was observed that in Thailand and Trinidad there was, in general, a good SMS: field extension agent ratio (1:8), compared to the other two study countries, Nigeria (1:27) and Syria (1:68), which seems quite high.

Furthermore, it was found that 86% and 20% of subject-matter specialists in Trinidad and Thailand respectively had a Masters degree in the specialised agricultural subject. It was also reported that, in Nigeria, 75% of these SMSs had had training at the Higher National Degree (HND) level, rather than a university degree or equivalent training, to enable them to work effectively with research. In Syria 100% of SMSs were observed as being qualified in agricultural subjects at graduate level. None of the SMSs was reported as being qualified as gender-specific subject-matter specialists.

This information identified a serious bottleneck in providing adequate technical backstopping and training to field extension agents. And this indirectly affected the four study countries in the strengthening of their overall extension systems to carry out technology transfer activities for women farmers. Furthermore, it was reported by the extension service (ADP) of Nigeria that they were unable to train an adequate number of extension staff in technical subject areas due to shortage of funds. However, they were regularly trained in the Monthly Technical Review Meetings (MRTM) in each ADP by the technical research staff of the study state to make them competent enough to transfer technological information to the field staff.

From the above discussion, it could be suggested that the existing subject-matter specialists, in order to identify and address the technical and educational needs of low-resource, poor women farmers, could be appointed at district level to serve the immediate needs and problems of the farmers through field extension agents.

2.12. Extension agent: Farmer ratio

One of the primary indicators used to measure the intensity of extension coverage in a country is the extension agent to farmer ratio. Normally the farm household is used as the denominator in computing this ratio because the household is viewed both as the focal point for extension contact and the unit for decision making. However, in the present study it is observed that family structure and decision making in the four study countries were not uniform across different cultures and societies.

The accurate calculation of coverage of farmers on a gender basis by an extension agent could not be obtained from the extension services in the four study countries. However, in order to have an insight into the existing patterns of the ratio extension agent: women farmers in the four countries, the available data were summarised as shown in Table 34.

Table 34. Ratio of extension agent to farmer in the four countries selected (1992)

Country

Thailand

Trinidad

Nigeria

Syria

Thailand

1 EA: 1000 farm families

1 EA: all farmers of extension area

1 EA (WIA): 6-8 women's groups & 1 EA: 30% F

1 FEA: women of one village

Note: WA = Women in Agriculture; EA = Extension agents; F= Female farmer; and

FEA = Female extension agents

Table 34 points out that the ratio of extension agent to farmers differed from country to country. It appears that only in Nigeria could the recommended average ratio of one female extension agent (WIA) to 6-8 women's groups be found and in general in the extension service there was one agricultural extension agent: 30% of women farmers. It was reported in Syria that one female extension agent was responsible for all the needy women farmers in the nearest village of the extension units in order to solve transportation problems. In two other study areas, findings reflected a confusion among the extension agents concerning coverage of target groups.

It is assumed that lack of clear extension objectives, strategy and other related factors such as transportation, population density, could have affected the identification of the exact coverage of women farmers by extension services.

2.13 Training facilities for field extension agents

Regular training is fundamental for effective extension. Available studies reveal that most of the field extension agents in developing countries have minimal formal training in agriculture. Table 35 presents the reported average percentage of extension training courses attended by field extension agents on three different extension subjects in the four study countries. The data show that, in general, a large proportion of training courses attended by extension agents were connected with improving agricultural technology. As shown in Table 35, this was highly emphasized in Nigeria and Thailand. Courses attended by field extension workers in extension methodology constituted only 6% in Syria, 18% in Thailand and 20% in Nigeria. Furthermore, courses which were gender specific were reported to be only 10% in Thailand, 18% in Syria, but as much as 30% in Nigeria. It may be noted that, in Trinidad, the extension agents interviewed did not report the proportion of training courses they attended on extension methodology and gender-specific messages.

Table 35. Reported average percentage of training courses attended by field extension agents in the study areas of the four countries selected (1992)

Trading subjects

Thailand %

Trinidad %

Nigeria %

Syria %

Extension methodology for women farmers

18.00

 

20.00

6.00

Gender specific extension messages

10.00

 

30.00

18.00

Improved agriculture technology

69.00

15.00

50.00

25.00

Others

3.00

85.00

0.00

51.00

2.14 Office facilities for field extension agents

It was observed that office accommodation was available for field extension agents in Nigeria and Syria at block level, whereas in Thailand and Trinidad the extension agents' office was at the district level, resulting in high cost of transportation to the farmers for the extension agents.

2.15 Transport facilities for field extension agents

With respect to transportation, the situation in three of the four study countries (except for Syria) was quite favourable, as reported by country administrators. In Thailand and Nigeria, most of the male field extension staff were provided with motorbikes by the government for extension work, whereas in Trinidad all the extension officers, including field extension staff received loans from the government as a down payment towards the purchase of a motor vehicle. These officers also received a monthly vehicle upkeep and travel allowance compared to other extension staff. On the other hand, female field extension staff in Thailand, Nigeria and Syria had mobility problems with regard to visiting women farmers in the villages regularly. It was also expressed by most of the female extension staff in Syria that they preferred not to use motorcycles for socio-cultural reasons.

2.16 Financial resource's allocated to the agricultural extension service in 1992

Performance of an extension system can be measured by the percentage of financial resources allocated to extension programmes for the target group. To identify this issue, each extension organization was surveyed to determine how it allocated its financial resources.

In the study area of Thailand, it was observed that there was a separate budget allocation (30%) specifically for extension programme activities for women farmers. But it was reported that this budget was utilized mainly for home economics programmer, such as cooking, food preservation, handicrafts, etc., for women farmers.

Table 36. Extension budget allocation by function in the four countries selected (1992)

Budget allocation by function

Thailand %

Trinidad %

Nigeria %

* Syria

Salaries

84.00

85.00

75.00

 

Programmes

1.00

6.00

15.00

 

Repairs and maintenance (building construction, buying equipment, repair of vehicles, etc.)

7.00

8.00

5.00

 

Subsidies

4.00

     

Other (printing and publication, mass media, etc.)

4.00

0.50

   

Note: (-) = Data not received; (*) = Given data could not be presented for comparison

It appears (see Table 36) that, given the general nature of the data provided by each study country, there was no way to differentiate between the types of financial allocation. However, the results provided a variety of data within the three study countries. It was observed that Nigeria allocated as much as 15% of the total budget for programme activities, whereas the percentage was much lower in Thailand and Trinidad. It further appears that the highest percentage of the extension budget in Thailand, Nigeria and Trinidad was allocated for the salaries of the extension staff.

3. Types of agricultural extension programme and the nature and extent of women farmers' participation

3.1 Types of agricultural extension topics included in extension programmes in 1992 to serve women farmers

It was reported in all the study areas that extension services gave highest priority to implementing extension programme activities on food/cereal crops, followed by horticultural and cash crops.

As shown in Table 37, the number of topics related to various technical messages on agricultural subjects covered by extension services differed in the four study countries. There were very few agricultural extension topics directed at women farmers. This is consistent with the findings of Airmy ( 1990); Bryson (1980); Feldman (1981); Ashby (1985) and Jackson (1985).

In Thailand, 10 topics were included in regular extension programmes for farmers in 1992, compared to eight in the other three study countries (Trinidad, Nigeria and Syria). Of the total extension topics studied, six were physically identified in the different study countries to be for women farmers: techniques of harvest, storage of harvested crops, care of poultry, formation of women groups/cooperatives, food processing and home economics. It was further revealed that two of the four study countries (Nigeria and Syria) selected the topic on storage of harvested crop totally for women farmers. Food processing was included in programme activities in three of the four study countries (except Trinidad) exclusively for women farmers. It is worth mentioning that, in Syria, extension messages on home economics matters (such as handicrafts, family planning, child development, cooking, etc.) were also included within the mainstream agricultural extension programmes, though there was no-one who was technically qualified in these subjects. On the other hand, in Nigeria home economics programmes like health care, child development, nutrition, home management, handicrafts, etc., were not included in the mainstream agricultural programme areas.

From Table 37, it appears that the topics on weed control and selection of a good variety of seeds, which were identified by several reports as being problematical for women farmers in farm activities, were not included in any of the areas studied, even though in the present study weed control was ranked by women farmers as being one of the greatest problems for which advice was required from the extension service.

Table 37. Agricultural extension topics planned/implemented and gender of target clientele in the study areas as identified by field extension agents in 1992 in the four countries selected

Agricultural Extension topics

Thailand

Trinidad

Nigeria

|Syria

1. Cultivation technique

Farmer *

Farmer

Farmer

 

2. Fertilizer application

Farmer

Farmer

Farmer

 

3. Selection of good variety of seeds

       

4. Crop protection

Farmer

Farmer

Farmer

Farmer

5. Weed control

       

6. Irrigation and water management

     

Farmer

7. Crop production/mixed cropping

Farmer

Farmer

   

8. Harvesting techniques

     

Women

9. Storage of harvested crop

   

Women

Women

10. Care of livestock

Farmer

Farmer

Farmer

 

11. Care of poultry

Farmer

 

Women

 

12. Marketing

Farmer

Farmer

   

13. Formation of women group/ cooperatives

Women

Women

   

14. Credit advice

   

Farmer

 

15. Food processing

Women

Farmer

Women

Women

16. Home economics

Women

   

Women

17 Youth programme/4 H-club

Youth

Youth

   

Note. (-) - Topics are not included in extension programmes (*) = Gender not specified

Note: (-) = Topics are not included m extension programmes (*) = Gender not specified

3.2 Extent of women farmers' participation in extension programme activities

The extension programme activities that reach women farmers could not be directly estimated due to the lack of available information recorded by gender in the study countries.

Table 38: Average percentage of women farmer's participation in six different extension activities of the study areas in four selected countries in 1992

S1. No

Name of the study areas

% of women contact farmers

% of women members in farmers group (both male and female )

% of women visited by field

% of women at farmer's classes /meetings

% of women at method demonstration

% of women at field days

1

Thailand (Nonthaburi)

_

14.00

_

40.00

40.00

40. 00

2

Trinidad (St. Patrick & St. George)

NU

_

30.00

25.00

25.00

 

3

Nigeria (Enugu & Kaduna)

30.00

8250(nos) *

32.00

80.00

80.00

80.00

4

Syria (Homs & Deir Ez Zor)

NU

_

47.00

39.00

28.00

 

Note: NU = Not used in extension programme activities; (-) = Data not given; (*) = members in women's group

Parentheses represents selected study areas

Table 38 presents the average percentage of women farmers' participation in six extension programme activities, as perceived and reported by field extension agents in the four study countries.

The total number of memberships in women farmers' groups, which were used as an important channel for extension communication, were 8,250 in the study areas in Nigeria and 14% in Thailand. Table 38 further shows that, on average, 80% of women farmers in the study areas of Nigeria had participated in farmers' classes/meetings, in method demonstration and field days, whereas in Thailand it was 40%. In the study areas of Trinidad, the percentage of women farmers' participating in farmers' classes/meetings and method demonstration was 25% in each category. Similarly in Syria it was 39% and 28% respectively. It is interesting to note that, in one of the study areas of Nigeria, 30% of the contact farmers in extension programme activities were women. Also, 47%, 32% and 30% of women farmers in Syria, Nigeria and Trinidad respectively were visited by field extension agents.

4. Problems faced by women farmers in attending extension programme activities

It appears from Table 39 that lack of time and lack of incentives were considered to be some of the greatest problems by women farmers in the four study countries selected. This is in agreement with the findings of the World Bank project on Women's Agricultural Productivity in Africa (WAPIA) in 1990 that women farmers in Nigeria and Kenya were unable to attend training due to lack of time. Lack of awareness of the extension programme was ranked as the least important problem in all the study countries.

Table 39. Problems in attending extension programme activities ranked in order of importance in 1992 by women farmers in the study areas of the four countries selected

Problem areas

Thailand

Trinidad

Nigeria

Syria

Lack of time

3rd

3rd

2nd

2nd

Lack of time and suitable venue for extension training classes/meetings

1st

2nd

4th

5th

Lack of awareness of the extension programme

5th

6th

6th

6th

Lack of incentives

2nd

1st

1st

3rd

Lack of interest in training methods (lectures)

4th

4th

3rd

4th

Due to having young children

5th

5th

5th

1st

It is also noted that lack of time and suitable venue for the extension training/meetings was ranked as the most important problem in Thailand and second in Trinidad, but only fourth and fifth in Nigeria and Syria respectively. The researcher assumes that in Thailand and Trinidad most of the extension agents did not take women's dual roles as farmer and reproductive agent into consideration, resulting in fewer visits by extension agents compared to other study countries.

5. Problems and constraints of agricultural extension services in reaching women farmers, as perceived by extension personnel

Field extension staff, policymakers, administrators, supervisors and technical officers, or subject-matter specialists of extension organizations in the four study countries were requested to rate the degree of severity of the problems that could affect agricultural extension work with particular reference to reaching women farmers on a five-point scale (very important, fairly important, important, less important and not at all important).

Tables 40 and 41 present the ranking of the eleven possible problems that could affect agricultural extension in reaching women farmers, as perceived by field extension agents and extension officials in the four study countries.

5.1 Expressed by field extension agent

As shown in Table 40, lack of technology suitable for women farmers, lack of training in extension methods and lack of demonstration materials were consistently ranked as three of the greatest problems in Thailand, Trinidad, Nigeria and Syria. While the transportation problem was ranked as first in Syria, the respondents of Nigeria, Trinidad and Thailand ranked transportation as 5th, 6th and 7th respectively.

5 2. Expressed by extension personnel (policymakers, planners, extension administrators, supervisors and technical officers or subject-matter specialists)

As shown in Table 41, lack of technology suitable for women farmers and lack of demonstration materials were ranked as the greatest problems in all four study countries. While lack of adequate transportation was ranked first and second in Syria and Nigeria respectively, the respondents of Thailand and Trinidad reported this as the sixth problem. In Thailand and Trinidad, lack of understanding of the problems and needs of women farmers was ranked third and first respectively.

Table 40. Problems affecting agricultural extension services to women farmers in the study areas of the four countries selected, as ranked by field extension agents in order of importance (1992)

Problem areas

Thailand

Trinidad

Nigeria

Syria

Lack of technology suitable for women farmers

1st

1st

3rd

2nd

Lack of practical agricultural training in improved technology

6th

3rd

6th

4th

Lack of training in extension methods and communication skills to work with women farmer

2nd

2nd

4th

3rd

Lack of adequate transportation to reach women farmers efficiently

7th

6th

5th

1st

Lack of essential teaching and communication equipment

8th

5th

2nd

7th

Lack of demonstration materials

3rd

2nd

1st

3rd

Lack of knowledge in understanding problems and needs of women farmers

4th

3rd

6th

3rd

Too many changes in the policy objectives

4th

4th

_

_

Too much official work in addition to field work

3rd

8th

9th

7th

Coverage of too many target groups by one agent

5th

7th

7th

6th

Lack of provision for women farmers' participation in extension programmes

3rd

4th

5th

3rd

Lack of subject-matter specialists to serve women's specific problems

4th

3rd

8th

5th

Note: (-) = No response

Table 41. Problems ranked by extension personnel in order of importance as affecting agricultural extension services to women farmers in the study areas of the four countries selected (1992)

Problem areas

Thailand

Trinidad

Nigeria

Syria

Lack of technology suitable for women farmers

1st

2nd

3rd

2nd

Lack of linkages between extension services and research

7th

4th

8th

6th

Lack of practical agricultural training on improved technology

4th

2nd

5th

5th

Lack of training in extension methods and communication skills to work with women farmer

2nd

3rd

6th

7th

Lack of adequate transportation to reach women farmers easily

6th

6th

2nd

1st

Lack of demonstration materials

3rd

2nd

1st

3rd

Lack of essential teaching and communication equipment

8th

7th

4th

8th

Extension agents assigned many other official jobs in addition to field work

5th

8th

11th

9th

Lack of provision for women farmers' participation m extension programmes

4th

3rd

10th

4th

Lack of subject-matter specialists to assist with women's specific problems

9th

5th

9th

3rd

Lack of understanding of the problems and needs of women farmers

3rd

1st

7th

4th

Tables 40 and 41 indicate that the lack of technology suitable for women farmers and lack of demonstration materials were ranked first, second or third problem in reaching women farmers by extension services, as perceived by both groups of respondents in Thailand, Trinidad, Nigeria and Syria. This is in line with the statement made by Saito and Spurling (1992). On the other hand, extension agents being assigned many other tasks was considered a lesser problem in Trinidad, Nigeria and Syria.

From the above findings it can be assumed that current agricultural research and extension tends to ignore women's activities. They try to solve technical problems without considering the social consequences. The findings suggest that research centres should develop suitable technology for women farmers and these should be available to extension staff for communicating messages to women farmers effectively.

6. Some suggestions of extension personnel by position and gender for improving the effectiveness of agricultural extension services to women farmers

The views of extension personnel were also sought on ways to improve the effectiveness of agricultural extension services to women farmers. More than three-quarters of the total number of respondents suggested increasing gender-specific research work (91%), inclusion of women farmers in all stages of programme planning (88%), increasing the number of women contact groups (86%), need for more monitoring and evaluation (82%), specification of women farmers as target clientele (81%), improving delivery techniques to overcome women's constraints of time, mobility and illiteracy (80%), training of extension agents to work with women's groups (79%), adequate budget for demonstration materials and equipment (77%) and guidance and training of male extension agents to understand women's activities (76%). These findings are in line with those areas suggested by Saito and Spurling (1992).

Table 42. Some suggestions by extension officials by gender in the four study countries selected for improving agricultural extension services to women farmers (%)

No.

Suggestions

Total number of extension officials as respondents by position

Total number of extension personnel as respondents N = 140

Total number of respondents by gender

 

Administrators/supervisors/ planners/policymakers N= 58

SMS/technical officers N = 40

Extension agents N = 42

 

Male N = 99

Female N = 41

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

1

Women farmers must be explicitly specified as target clientele group in policy statement of agricultural extension

45 (78.00)

35 (88.00)

33 (79.00)

113 (81.00)

77 (78.00)

36 (88.00)

2

Need for separate extension services for women farmers

20 (34.00)

18 (45.00)

11 (26.00)

49 (35.00)

17 (17.00)

32 (78.00)

3

Increase in number of female extension agents

35 (60.00)

30 (75.00)

22 (52.00)

87 (62.00)

48 (48.00)

39 (95.00)

4

Appoint female agents as subject-matter specialists in relation to women farmers

20 (34.00)

18 (45.00)

29 (69.00)

67 (48.00)

30 (30.00)

37 (90.00)

5

Using female agents as supervisors in women ' s extension programmes

22 (38.00)

15 (38.00)

20 (48.00)

57 (41.00)

16 (16.00)

41 (100.00)

6

Male ensign agents should be guided and trained to understand women's production activities and their specific problems and needs

45 (78.00)

38 (95.00)

24 (57.00)

107 (76.00)

74 (75.00)

31 (76.00)

7

Increase in number of women contact farmers

22 (38.00)

36 (90.00)

32 (76.00)

90 (64.00)

53 (54.00)

37 (90.00)

8

Increase in number of women contact groups

47 (81.00)

36 (90.00)

38 (90.00)

121 (86.00)

81 (82.00)

40 (98.00)

9

Deliver messages through mass media, viz. radio, video cassettes, to overcome women farmer's constraints of time, mobility and illitercy

44 (76.00)

32 (80.00)

36 (86.00)

112 (80.00)

74 (75.00)

38 (93.00)

10

Specify number or percentage of target clientele by gender in formal extension training

30 (52.00)

38 (95.00)

24 (57.00)

92 (66.00)

61 (62.00)

31 (74.00)

11

Women farmers should be included in all stages of programme planning

48 (83.00)

37 (93.00)

38 (90.00)

123 (88.00)

86 (87.00)

37 (90.00)

12

Increase research work to produce technologies that would improve the farming operations normally done by women

50 (86.00)

38 (95.00)

40 (95.00)

128 (91.00)

88 (89.00)

40 (98.00)

13

Need for monitoring and evaluation of implementing of planned extension activities for women farmers

52 (90.00)

36 (90.00)

27 (64.00)

115 (82.00)

81 (82.00)

34 (83.00)

14

Increased separate budget allocation for execution of projects for women

30 (52.00)

38 (95.00)

32 (76.00)

100 (71.00)

62 (63.00)

38 (93.00)

15

Improve the content of extension messages which are appropriate for women farmers

34 (59.00)

35 (88.00)

35 (83.00)

104 (74.00)

68 (69.00)

36 (88.00)

16

Train extension agents on how to work with women farmers in groups

50 (86.00)

33 (83.00)

28 (67.00)

111 (79.00)

82 (83.00)

29 (71.00)

17

Provide adequate transport facilities for female extension agents

32 (55.00)

25 (63.00)

21 (50.00)

78 (56.00)

44 (45.00)

34 (83 00)

18

Adequate budget for demonstration materials/equipment for implementation of gender-specific projects

34 (59.00)

35 (88.00)

39 (93.00)

108 (77.00)

70 (71.00)

38 (93.00)

(Figures m parenthesis represent percentage value)

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