The role of rural women farmers in household food security in Cross River State, Nigeria
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Women play a key role in ensuring the continuation of food security, yet in Nigeria, rural women farmers have suffered long-term marginalisation in the nation’s affairs. In light of this fact, this study seeks to determine and better understand the roles rural women farmers play as household food producers, as conservators of agrobiodiversity, and as food processors in the Cross River State. The study employed a survey research design, and included 2231 respondents, of whom 2021 were rural women farmers, and 210 were agricultural extension agents. A total of 221 rural women farmers and 21 extension agents were then chosen using a random sampling technique, leading to a total sample size of 242 respondents. The questionnaire was split into four parts; first, on personal information of the respondent, then a section on their roles in each of the three sectors previously cited.
The overall findings of the study showed that rural women play a significant part in the food security of Cross River State. In none of the sectors investigated did the respondents have significant differences in opinion compared to the hypothesis presented by the study authors, that positioned rural women farmers as important actors in household food security and production. Furthermore, a literature review provides evidence agreeing with the findings of this study, including an FAO finding in 2009 that estimated women to be responsible for around 50% of global food production, rising to 60-80% of production for household food consumption in Nigeria and other countries in sub-Saharan Africa. The authors note that Douda (2009) estimated that women in south-western Nigeria account for up to 90% of labour used in rice cultivation, underlining their fundamental importance to food security. Other findings note the importance of women to maintaining biodiversity, conservation, and traditional knowledge.