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The barrier to women involvement in agro forestry and role of oil palm in Nigeria.

Short title: Barriers in agroforestry and role of oil palm

1. Introduction

Agroforestry is all practices that involve the integration of trees and shrubs or crops with other enterprise such as livestock or pasture for ecological and economic reasons (Thrupp, 1994). Meanwhile, it has been clarified that neither a traditional tree farm or nut plantation managed as a single-purpose mono-crop nor woodlot managed for wood product only is an agroforestry system. On this basis, "agroforestry " is a collective name for land-use systems and technologies where woody perennials (trees, shrubs, palms and so on) and or including mushrooms are deliberately used on the same land management unit as agricultural crops and/or animals in the same form of spatial arrangement or temporal sequence (Onumadu et al., 2000; Beetz, 2002).

The needs for agroforestry systems cannot be overemphasized in view of its fascinating benefits which are both direct and indirect. The agroforestry generally fulfills two major benefits such as environmental and socio-economic. The environmental benefits include improving soil fertility, preventing desertification and soil degradation, soil erosion, silting of reservoirs, rivers and streams flows, flood and landslides. The trees also shelter livestock from wind or sun, provide habitat for the wildlife and improve aesthetic. The strategic arrangement of trees and shrubs can significantly alter living environments for both humans and animals (Gloria, 2010). The social benefits include, building posts, fodder and forage, fruits and honey, fibres and flosses, and materials for making agricultural implements. The wood used for cooking that remains the most pertinent livelihood and the non-wood products like medicinal and food plants that are very important to the villagers are products from forests (Laakso and Tyynela, 2006). The economic benefits include employment and cash income, forest seedling raising, tree growing and tending, sale of fuel wood, poles, fruits, and honey, gums and resins, materials for rural handicrafts and cottage industries like rope-making, weaving and carpentry. According to Thrupp (1994) and Beetz (2002), agroforestry can also improve soil fertility, especially in the case of leguminous species, provide animal fodder, create a favorable microclimate for crops and livestock, produce tree fruits expand fuel wood supplies and produce a variety of wood products for farmers' home use. Combining forestry and agriculture produces greater economic and environmental benefits for farmers than planting trees, growing crops or raising animal alone. It's especially suited for small farmers who cannot afford the costly fertilizer and pesticides for conventional farming.

Consequent to the serious problems currently facing many Nigerian farmers, especially to sustain their livelihoods due to urbanization and extensive use of land, the drive towards ensuring food security should be channeled towards developing viable agricultural practices and systems that will be environmentally friendly with long term productivity rather than immediate production and accruing returns.

According to Young (1989) and Onumadu et al. (2000) there are hundreds and possibly thousands of agroforestry systems but there are only 20 district practices for combating environmental degradation in various ecological regions. Amongst the agroforestry systems practiced in Nigeria are integrated "taungya", alley cropping, shelter belts, home garden and boarder planting.

The practice of taungya involves the growing of crops among trees until the tree canopy closes. This could be for one to three years so that the tree-crops association is temporal (Onumadu et al., 2000). It is simply the combined stand of woody and agricultural species during early stages of establishment of plantations. For instance, the cultivation of oil palm with cassava is a good combination.

In alley cropping, annual food crops (grains, forage, vegetables,...) are grown within the widely spaced rows of perennials hedges to allow the mature size of the tree while permitting the planned alley crops. This hedge is pruned regularly to provide mulch (Lan, 1990; Beetz, 2002) or serve as livestock fodder. This practice is done by planting trees which could be leguminous in rows with crops cultivated between them.

Moreover, people plant trees around their houses with food crops in the space between them. This is practiced for fruits and nuts yields, forage and folders, poles and posts, firewood, vegetable and flowers for consumptions in the homes or for sales. The trees also help to provide shades for the people and their home and fodders for animals. This practicum is known with the name of "home gardens" (Ffolliott, 1998).

Shelter belts or windbreaks are linear plantings of single or multiple rows of vegetation (trees, shrubs) like oil palm, coconut trees at right angle to the direction of prevailing wind. This is done to reduce the speed of wind across agricultural crops and pastures and around buildings. They reduce wind erosion; alter microenvironment to enhance plants growth; provide noise and visual screens; improve irrigation efficiency; improve air quality by intercepting air borne particles, chemicals and odors; and increase carbon storage in biomass and soils (NRCS, 2006). Besides, shelterbelts provide benefits to wildlife in several ways, including protection from wind and adverse weather, refuge cover, food and foraging sites, reproductive habitats and travel corridors (Johnson and Beck, 1988). The above practice could simply be described as planting trees around the farm.

Border planting is mainly used for marking boundaries between properties both in the home stead and farmland (Adeola et al., 2001). For example, coconut and or oil palm trees can be planted in home stead to mark boundaries and still serves as the fruit yield for income to the owner. It can also serves as wind break to the house.

Some women work very hard on their farms in order to maximize profit for their personal and family needs. Buckland and Haleegoah, (1996) opined that the number of female headed farms is rising quite rapidly. Women therefore, will comply with any innovation that are compatible and has relative advantage in the production. Since agroforestry is a means of boosting their production, they will readily adopt it because many women farmers have entrepreneur ability except for some reasons that may hinder them from adopting the innovation. Enete and Amusa (2010) enumerated various reasons for the unwillingness of some women to adopt agroforestry practice. Techno-institutional such as lack of extension programmes and awareness of non-governmental organization (NGO) programmes for women, and financial constraint were among the reasons given. Lack of money may be explained in relation to the amount of money that women within inheritance right need to purchase land. Some women farmers thought that any farmland planted with project trees may be claimed by the government later. Francis and Atta-Krah (1988) mentioned that very few women adopted the agroforestry practices and to encourage women's participation, a specialized extension effort was targeted towards women which bring about triple increase in their adoption. This indicates that lack of effective communication could be a barrier. Williams and Williams (1971) said that labor constraints on women farmers do not allow many of them to adopt agroforestry innovation developed in onfarm trials. Also, Buckland (1996) said in particular, women face severe constraints in access to work both because of their own commitments and their inability to pay for hired labor or labor saving technologies.

Moreover, the role of women as key players in agricultural production is under estimated. Men are reportedly continuously dominating farm decision making, even in areas where women are the largest providers of farm labour (Enete and Amusa, 2010). As a result of this, some women have developed attitude of the under privileged, like withdrawal, inferiority, passivity and lack of self-awareness. So, it is important to focus on women farmers for agroforestry practices to be widely spread.

Perennial crops such as oil palm (Elaeis guineensis, Jacq) and coconut (Cocos nucifera. Linnaeus) have played and will continue to play important roles in the agriculture of the humid and semi-humid tropics where they are cultivated on a large scale in both plantations and smallholdings for food and nonfood industrial purposes (Jalani et al., 2003). These tree crops also play an important role in the aspect of agroforestry practices; serving as wind break when planted around the house, the fruit serves for economic purpose when marketed. For instance, the palm fruit, fresh fruit bunch and coconut can be sold to generate revenue for the family as part of the household income. It can also be use as demarcation, that is, boundaries between houses or properties.

This is a deliberate combined use of trees and arable crops on the same area of land. Although the practice was initially proposed to improve environmental performance agroforestry system in Europe (Palma, 2006), it is now adopted almost globally. For example, the combination of oil palm and cocoyam, oil palm and maize, oil palm and plantain, because oil palm, plantain and maize can be grown on the same piece of land.

Oil palm is seen as a long term profit oriented investment but planting oil palm with other crops makes it more profitable venture. The crops planted before the canopy of the palm closes bring more income to the investor. There is neither time wasted nor resources left unused. According to Onwubuya et al. (1989), intercropping oil palm with various food crops had no advert effects on the growth and development of the oil palm. Thus the cultivation of oil palm is a positive aspect for entrepreneurs. It is now second only to soybean as a major source of the world supply of oils and fats (Mohd et al., 2004) and source of employment.

The specie of oil palm in Nigeria referred to as "the tenera hybrid palm", produced and distributed by the Nigerian Institute for Oil Palm Research (NIFOR) for cultivation, is asserted to have a potential yield of 20-25 tonnes of fresh fruit bunch (ffb).[ha.sup.-1].[year.sup.-1] with an average annual palm oil yields of 3.5 tonnes.[ha.sup.-1] (NIFOR, 1985). For instance, under proper managements of the NIFOR, the Okomu oil palm in Edo State, Nigeria yields of about 17 tonnes of ffb.[ha.sup.-1].[year.sup.-1], and extraction rates between 19 and 22% oil to ffb have recently been achieved. The yields of oil palm also increases with age. This signifies the profitability of oil palm crop.

Based on the above premises, the objectives of the current work were: i) Ascertain what constitutes constraints to the use of their knowledge of agroforestry; ii) Determine the perception of women farmers about their benefits; iii) Profitability of oil palm and its role in agroforestry practices. The main aims of the study was set to ascertain what constitute constraints to the use of the agroforestry knowledge, determination of the perception of women farmers to the benefits of their utilization and also the profitability of oil palm coupled with its role.

2. Material and methods

2.1. Study area

The population of the study consists of all women involved in farming in Oluyole local government with an area of 629 [km.sup.2] and a population of 202,725 (2006 census) in Oyo State, Nigeria (Figure 1). There are 10 wards in the Local Government and 4 wards were randomly selected and an average of 25 women farmers were randomly interviewed in each of the 4 wards giving a total sample size of 100 respondents.

2.2. Data collection and statistical analysis

Two sets of data, primary and secondary were used in this study. The primary data collection was done through a formal questionnaire. The questionnaire had closed and an opened-end questions that were administered in the form of interview, especially to collect information from the non-literate respondents on the perception and possible constraints to their participation in agroforestry. The secondary data used was directly from the NIFOR.

The descriptive statistics was used to organise and analyse the data collected while the frequency distributions and percentage coupled were used to interpret and summarize the information obtained.

3. Results and discussion

3.1. Constraint on agroforestry practices

The Table 1 shows that the respondents could not practice border planting because of lack of availability of seed (5%). This problem correlates similar reports on lack of planting such as seeds and seedling (Adekunle, 2009), pest infestation (1%), shade (2%), lack of labor (4%) and land constraint (7%) and, (81%) had no constraints. Table 2 shows that the major constraint is problem of land availability (30%). Thirteen percent had constraint because of lack of finance. This shows that compared to the usual practice, most of the respondents could neither get land freely from their relations nor afford the financial compensation involved in leasing from individual landlords (Fabiyi et al., 2007; Adekunle, 2009). Three percent had labor constraint.

The distribution of respondents on constraints of taungya shown in Table 3; a large proportion of the respondents (87%) has no constraints in this practice, 4% each considered the shade of the trees as constraint to practicing it. These farmers considered the need for them to vacate the site for another place as soon as the trees begin to close canopy (Adekunle, 2009). Although very small percent (4%) simply reported that it is difficult to carry out, this cannot be overlooked since it will be difficult to implement unless the practice is made attractive and economical to villagers. The cost of establishing a taungya has been equated to the establishment of industrial forest plantations (Sutisna, 1999). Three percent had the constraint of lack of development of the country while 2% is due to lack of finance.

On another band, the distribution of respondents on constraints of alley cropping exposed in Table 4. The data reveal that the major constraint, 3% by respondents in alley cropping is the shade. Ninety seven percent had no constraint. The large percent of respondents practicing it without constraints could be attributed to the numerous benefits derived such as the wood from the hedgerows planted used for firewood and for making of charcoal coupled with leaves from hedgerows that are pertinent source of fodder for animals as well as for the maintenance of soil fertility (Jolly et al., 2006). Table 5 shows that major constraint the respondents faced in the practice of apiculture is the sting of bees (14%) especially for any one wearing red cloth on the farm. This corroborates the account that bees, especially the defensive kinds of bees in Africa always target dark colors instead of lightest possible color in hot climates, besides their strong reaction to certain smells such as perspiration, alcohol, soap and perfume (Leen et al., 2005).

Finally, Table 6 shows that 17% are faced with the problem of finance, 14% are with the problem posed by thief stealing their livestock while main constraint in the respondents' practice of grazing is the disease attack on the livestock (24%). However, majority of the respondents reported no constraints. The financial issue can be attributed to the fact that livestock is seen as a guarantee that is too risky to be financed. In fact, agricultural activity is generally considered more risky than most other rural economic activities (Toure et al., 2012).

3.2. The perception of women to benefits of agroforestry

The perception of benefits of agroforestry made known in Table 7. About 16% of the respondents perceived agroforestry benefits to them as low probably because they do not totally depend on farming for their sustainable livelihood. Further analysis reveals the percentage distribution of women engaged in non-agricultural economic activities as primary occupation. It is observable in the rural area that women are given to many income generating activities. Therefore, some are engaged in both non-farming activities livelihood. The later facts thus explain why 69% of respondents belong to the medium perception categories while 15% who might be totally depending on agriculture for economic reasons constitute the percentage that highly enjoy the benefit of agroforestry. This findings correlate that this practice is not famous in the studied area (Laakso and Tyynela, 2006).

3.3. Recommendations

In view of strengthening the individual financial capacity, the managers of oil palm just like cocoa agroforestry, oil palm agroforestry should be encouraged. This will go along way in harnessing the general benefits it offers especially, bio-fuel in order to reduce government total dependability on the crude oil as a source of revenue for economic development. Besides, proper orientation is also needed for both the rural and urban dwellers on the needs for oil palm agroforestry and to patronize the NIFOR for good yield and hybrid oil palm seedlings for plantations. The beekeepers should be orientated on the need to wear lightest possible colors and other protective measures as well as avoid certain bees-affinity smells to avoid being stung in hot climates. When designing the agroforestry enterprises, marketing possibility should be surveyed with inclusion of agroforestry system in the complete business plan for the farm to enhance desired objectives. Moreover, seedlings and seeds should be distributed to farmers while compensation should be given to women engaging in tree planting and caring.

4. Conclusions

This study has been able to identify the general barriers to the utilization of women knowledge in agroforestry and the vital roles that oil palm agroforestry play and will continue to play if given the right placement in our farming systems. It has also been vividly shown that the problem of population growth coupled with economic pressure, as well as dependability on other source of economic development, for instance crude oil, especially the government of Nigeria has shifted the attention from viable agroforestry of oil palm and others. Thus, there is a high rate of deforestation of the country's natural resource.

The main constraint in the practice of border planting and shifting cultivation is generally attributed to land which makes it difficult to practice taungya system by most of the women. Meanwhile, the only constraint regarding practicing alley cropping is the shade the tree casts on the crop when it is matured and the attack on the livestock by diseases and this has been perceived by the respondents that the benefit is low from agroforestry. The farming and nonfarming activities engaged for livelihood also contributed to the 69% of respondents belonging to the medium perception categories and 15% who totally depend on agriculture for economic and enjoy the benefit of agroforestry.

The general observations underscore the need for special agroforestry goal-oriented programmes will empower, encourage and recognize women farmers, especially through education, financial supports and regular information dissemination in the rural areas. This help to sustain food production and boost the economy of the nation.

[FIGURE 1 OMITTED]

DOI: 10.5261/2012.GEN4.04

Received: 07May 2012

Accepted: 15 October 2012

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Bankable, A.S. [1] *, Adekoya, A.E. [2], Nwawe, C.N. [1], Akinbile, L.N. [2]

[1] Agricultural Economics, Nigerian Institute for Oil Palm (NIFOR), P.M.B. 1030, Benin City, Nigeria

[2] Agricultural Extension and Rural Development, University of Ibadan, Nigeria

* Corresponding author: joke oseni@yahoo.com
Table 1. Distribution of respondents on constraint on border planting

Constraints            Frequency   Percentage (%)

Availability of seed       5             5.0
Pest infestation           1             1.0
Shade                      2             2.0
Land                       7             7.0
Lack of labor              4             4.0
No constraint             81            81.0
Total                     100          100.0

Table 2. Distribution of respondents on constraints on
shifting cultivation

Constraints          Frequency   Percentage (%)

Finance                 13            13.0
Land                    30            22.0
Shade                    9            9.0
Labour                   3            3.0
Long planting span       1            1.0
No constraint           44            44.0
Total                   100          100.0

Table 3. Distribution of respondents on constraints of taungya

Constraints           Frequency   Percentage (%)

Shade                     4            4.0
Difficult                 4            4.0
Lack of development       3            3.0
Finance                   2            2.0
No constraint            87            87.0
Total                    100          100.0

Table 4. Distribution of respondents on Constraints of alley cropping

Constraints     Frequency   Percentage (%)

Shade               3            3.0
No constraint      97            97.0
Total              100          100.0

Table 5. Distribution of respondents on Constraints of apiculture

Constraints     Frequency   Percentage (%)

Bee sting          14            14.0
Finance             2             2.0
No constraint      84            84.0
Total              100          100.0

Table 6. Distribution of respondents on Constraints of grazing

Constraints     Frequency   Percentage (%)

Finance            17            17.0
Theft              14            14.0
Disease            24            24.0
No constraint      45            45.0
Total              100          100.0

Table 7. The perception of women to benefits of agroforestry

Constraints   Frequency   Percentage (%)

Low              16            16.0
Medium           69            69.0
High             15            15.0
Total            100          100.0

Source: field survey (2002)
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Author:Bankable, A.S.; Adekoya, A.E.; Nwawe, C.N.; Akinbile, L.N.
Publication:Spanish Journal of Rural Development
Date:Oct 1, 2012
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