THE ROLE OF WOMEN IN AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTION IN OVIA SOUTHWEST LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREA OF EDO STATE, NIGERIA
The study focused on the role of women in agricultural production in Ovia South West Local Government Area of Edo State. Systematic sampling and purposive sampling techniques were used to sample 382 respondents in the study area. Data were collected using questionnaire and Focus Group Discussion (FGD) as major research instruments. Descriptive statistical technique was employed to summarize the data and multiple regression was used to measure the degree of relationship between the socio-economic characteristics of women in agriculture and its influence on their roles in agricultural production. The study found that women in Ovia South-West LGA contribute their quota to economic development, household income and food security as revealed by 100% of the respondents. Also, it was revealed by the respondents that lack of awareness on new technologies (47.9%), land holding (67%) and financial constraints (87%) militate against the positive contribution of women farmers to nation building accordingly. Variables such as age (0.005), income (0.000), types of agricultural activities (0.000) and family size (0.002) were shown to positively influence the role women play in agricultural production as confirmed by the regression analysis which were significant at 5% level of significance. However, the Chi-square technique revealed that in harvesting/processing p-values of marital status (0.043), years of farming experience (0.002) andincome (0.044) are identified. Also, in marketing/distribution, p-value of age (.000), Educational attainment (.016), years of agricultural experience (.000) and income (.000)are revealed. In weeding p-values of age (.000), marital status (.012), educational attainment (.000), years of agricultural experience (.000) and income (.000) are also revealed. And lastly, in planting the p-values of marital status (.057), educational attainment (.002), years of agricultural experience (.000) and income (.000) were significant at 0.05 alpha level of significant. The study recommends that empowerment of rural women farmers should be prioritized through provision of special agricultural credits and subsidization of farm inputs to optimize their invaluable role in food security, and women farmers should be provided access to financial assistance for their farming activities through formation of cooperative society.The study concludes that women play important roles in ensuring food security. They act as shock absorbers, grow crops, keep animals and spend time to keep the family economic boat afloat. They are into seed sowing, weeding, harvesting, processing, storage, marketing of food produce for the health of the family and the community at large.