1.1 Background of the Study
Agriculture started with the early men who through the act of hunting discovered that animals caught in traps alive, and kept for future consumption, began to give birth to young ones. They also observed that the wild fruits they travel to a distance to get, and consumed that the seeds thrown around the neighborhood germinated. This is how the sense of rearing animals and cultivation of crops began (Agriculture). Agriculture is very important to every nations of the world. In Nigeria, for example, over 70% of the population earns their living through agriculture or it related occupation. In spite of this Nigeria’s population is still underfed in terms of protein giving foods which results in malnutrition especially among children.
Agriculture is a dominant activity in the rural areas of Nigeria (Onyeabor and Alimba, 2006). According to National Institute for Socio-Economic Survey (NISER, 2003), there are about 40 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and providing employment directly or indirectly to over 71 percent of the Nigeria population. One of the major problems facing Nigeria today is the need to transform her agricultural system from one depending on traditional inputs with high productivity. This will enable her meet the rising expectations of her rural and urban area. The fact that men and women play an important role in agriculture production is an issue to be reckoned with.
Natural rubber (Heavea brasiliensis) which is traditionally native to the Amazon jungle of South America was introduced to Nigeria from England around 1895, with the first rubber estate established in Sapele in the present day Delta State in 1903. (Giroh et al., 2004). By 1925, there were already thousands of hectares of rubber estates that were predominantly owned by Europeans in Southern Nigeria.
It should be noted that Nigeria has a very vast potential for rubber production especially in many of the southern states in the country where the vegetative and climatic conditions are suitable for its production. Aigbokaen et al., (2000), Abolagba and Giroh (2006) noted that rubber can be grown extensively in Edo, Delta, Ogun, Ondo, Abia, Anambra, Akwa-Ibom, Cross River, Imo, Ebonyi and Rivers states where the annual rainfall range between 1800mm and 2000mm per annum. Rubber is grown in Edo State and large quantities are grown in small areas like Iguorhiaki, Ehor, Irrua in Esan Central Local Government Area.
Harvesting is done when it has attained the age of 6-7 years when the trees are considered matured and have attained a girth circumference of 45cm at a height of 150cm from the ground. The situation in Nigeria presently pretends to drift from being a major exporter of rubber products into becoming a net importer in the nearest future.
Rubber contributes basically three functions in the Nigerian economy in terms of providing raw materials for agro-based industries, foreign exchange earnings and in the provision of employment. With regards to the provision of raw materials, it should be noted that the uses to which rubber can be put is almost innumerable. The latex from rubber is a vital material in the automobile industry as it is used in the manufacture of tyre, car bumpers, transmission belt, car mat, seats etc. The latex is also used for the manufacture of adhesive, baby feeding bottle teat, condom, domestic and industrial gloves, balloons, eraser among others (Abolagba et al, 2003).
Furthermore, the rubber seeds when processed produce oil alkyd resins used for paints, soap, skin cream and hair shampoo. The rubber seed cake left as residue after oil is extracted from the seed is also valuable in compounding livestock feeds (Fasina, 1998).
Technology adoption as a process that begins with awareness of the technology and progresses through a series of steps that ends in appropriate and effective usage. Technology users differ widely in their attitudes towards technology and in their skills, ranging from early adopters who will master even the most difficult technology through to people who will never adopt. Technology adoption is important because it is the vehicle that allows most people to participate in a rapidly changing world where technology has become central to our lives. The various activities involved in rubber production are carried out by men, women and youths.
Gender refers to socially assigned roles and behaviours attributable to men and women (Deji, 2011). In most societies, men and women have distinct roles with in the farming system. Gender differences in rural farming households, vary widely across cultures but certain features are common. Women tend to concentrate their agricultural activities around the homestead, primarily because of their domestic and reproductive roles. They play a critical role in food production. Post harvest activities or livestock care, Akinsanya (2002) suggested that certain activities are regarded as male or female. In some setting, a rigid division of labor exists between men and women. Household members have separate income and expenditure while in another area, division of labor and specialization of tasks are less rigid and not skewed (Solomon 1995).
Historically, the role and responsibilities of men and women were differentiated to a large extent in the society. Ekong (2003) concluded that no tasks were gender specific except child bearing. The colonial influence in Nigeria in the 50s contributed to initial neglect of women in the agricultural sector. The extension services at that time emphasized the production of cash crops that were exported to their countries as industrial materials and men were found to be predominantly involved. At this period Olagogun (2001) suggested that men select land first hence, they select the most productive part leaving women with land that are either being over used or land that are prone to erosion or degradation, so invariably, women become victims of unproductive land. This mode of temporary land acquisition also prevents women from planting permanent crops like fruits, trees, oil-palm, cocoa, coffee, rubber and other cash crops.
Based on the aforementioned scenario, involvement of men and women in soil management practices is expected to be different. However, recently, many Nigerian women are increasable involved in soil management according to Decjene (2003), due to the fact that both male and female farmers would like to increase their production and one of the best ways of doing this is to effectively manage soil using both the traditional practices such as bush fallowing, mulching, terracing, addition of manure, crop rotation etc and improved practices such as fertilizer application, also studies had shown that some of the constraints facing male and female farmers are gender- specific according to Abera (2003), Decjene (2003) and world bank (2007). Hence, the need to assess the roles of arable crop farmers in soil management practices across gender becomes very imperative with a view to increasing food production in the study area.
Women have been shown to have minor influence in cropping patterns, they play major roles in processing and marketing farm products (Dossc Sofa Team (2007), for rubber crucial, although it is difficult to assess who make the final decision of when to harvest rubber, responses to previous surveys indicate that women play role in the decision. They know the market price more and better than men and more aware of home food requirement (Mayoux, 2011). There is the need for small scale farmers to adopt improved production technologies, varieties, methods of storage, processing and utilization of product.
It is however, pathetic that with the enormous potential resources that can be generated from rubber production, the crop has been neglected over the years, according to Abolagba and Giroh (2006).
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Rubber production is highly dominated by a number of small scale farmers in our rural areas and the y are mostly women who depend mostly on their traditional methods of farming. (Tanko 1993 – 1995) observed that women play role in the productive work on the farm.
According to Tanko, (1993-1995) out of 95% small scale farmers in Nigeria who actually feed the nation, 55% of them are women who still depend mostly on traditional planting materials which gives low yield and high susceptibility such as vulcanization, burning old tires in power plant releases thousands of toxins into the air. Fire trace, width of not less than 30m, weed control, manually, chemically or mechanically, establishment and maintenance of ground cover, mulching, water irrigation, pruning, regular control of pest and disease, fertilizer application. To reverse this, various institutions such as International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) and Rubber Research Institute of Nigeria (RRIN) have developed and distributed improved technologies of rubber tapping, collecting of latex, processing, storage and utilization of rubber and its products.
In spite of all these, rubber yield is still low and confronted with constraints. Men and women farmers remain at the same level of production as a result of their lack of understanding of these new technologies, availability of inputs for production, ownership of land among demand. Based on this background, the following questions will be addressed. The questions are as follows:
What are the socio-economic characteristics of men and women rubber farmers’?
What are the activities performed in rubber production?
What are the roles of men and women in rubber production?
What is the extent or adoption on rubber technologies?
What are the constraints to role performances in rubber production?
1.3 Objectives of the Study
The major objective are to examine the gender roles and technology adoption in Rubber Production in Edo State, Nigeria. This will be achieved through the following specific objectives.
To describe the socio-economic characteristics of the rubber farmers by genders in the study area.
To identify the activities performed in rubber productions
To examine gender roles in rubber production.
To identify sources of information on rubber production
Examine technology adoption among gender categories in rubber production.
To identify the constraints faced by men and women in rubber production.
1.4 Research Hypotheses
Ho: There is no relationship between the socio-economic characteristics and the gender involvement in rubber production.
Ho2: There is no significant relationship between socio-economic characteristics and adoption of rubber technology.
Ho3: There is no significant difference between the involvement of male and female in rubber production.
Several studies have been carried out on the general contribution of gender performance in Agriculture in Nigeria. However, not much work has been designed in the area of identifying the gender role played in rubber production in Edo state.
This paper therefore provides and insight into this area by examining men and women’s role in rubber production in the study area. Sensing with the processing of latex for example, there are already open markets for men and women farmers. Locally in the study area, it is envisaged that the result of this work would be established for future assessment and evaluation.