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1.1     Background to the Study

Agriculture is an important components of the agribusiness value chain considered as necessary to be able to produce and meet the quantity demand of markets (Adesina, 2012; United Nations Industrial Development Organization, UNIDO, 2011). The use of such in African agriculture is, however limited, with serious implications for the goal of increasing agricultural productivity and the supply of adequate raw materials for agro-industrial processing and for consumption.

The World Bank (2007) reported that African agriculture is plagued by extremely low levels of agro-chemical use relative to other developing regions. Citing the average for sub-Saharan Africa as 12.5 kg/hectare of arable land, substantially below both the global average of 102 kg/ha, 89.6 kg/ha in Latin America and the Caribbean and 106.7 kg/ha in South Asia respectively. West African states were found to have the lowest average levels of agro input usage, pegged at an average of 10kg/ha. This is reportedly due to high cost, hence the heavy dependence on government subsidized inputs, as a result of poverty. Such subsidy programs have also been characterised by pervasive problems of late delivery, poor quality and supply of inappropriate quantity and types of fertilizer, due to corruption (Banful, Nkonya, and Oboh, 2010). To be able to produce and meet the quantity demands of markets, farmers need to have access to improved seeds, fertilizers and other farm inputs (Adesina, 2012; Banful, Nkonya, and Oboh, 2010). The Federal Government of Nigeria, therefore, in its quest to develop agriculture and empower rural farmers for increased productivity, developed and to look at the factors influencing women and youths in participating agricultural activities is critical components of the Federal Government's Agricultural Transformation Agenda (ATA), designed for the specific purpose of providing affordable agricultural inputs like fertilizers and hybrid seeds to small scale farmers in order to increase their yields per hectare and make them comparable to world standards (Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development FMARD, 2014). The policy is aimed at developing the agricultural input component of the agricultural value chain by removing difficulties in the agricultural input sector and transforming agriculture in Nigeria from a development program (dependent on grants) to a self-sustaining business venture (Adesina 2014).

According to Adesina (2012), the scheme’s approach is such that beneficiaries are targeted through the use of electronic system. Private sector stakeholders (companies and agro dealers) are involved in the distribution and delivery of fertilizers and other critical inputs directly to farmers to ensure accessibility, affordability, development of the input value chain, and ultimately increasing small holder farmers’ output, income and improved livelihoods (FMARD, 2014).

Mobile phones serve as the “Electronic-wallet” (medium) through which inputs are allocated (Atofarati and Monye, 2013).Registered farmers receive electronic vouchers for subsidized inputs via their mobile phones, which they redeem electronically at the rural input retail shops, after paying the cash balance due (Adesina 2012).

Perceptions, according to Vithessonthi (2005), have direct influence upon people’s decision-making and the outcome of their decisions. Oladele and Fawole (2007), in a similar vein submits that studying farmers’ perception is regarded as recognizing the importance of farmers and their reactions to new technology and innovation. This is because farmers are not just passive consumers but active problem solvers with a stake in agricultural development. Therefore, the need to take into cognisance their perception of innovations and policies like the E-wallet which they benefit from directly cannot be overemphasized.

There are currently no empirical evidence of the socio economic and institutional factors influencing the perception of farmers on the E-wallet. It was in line with this that the study aimed to investigate the factors influencing women and youth in participating agricultural activities in Jema’a Local Government Area of Kaduna State Nigeria.

1.2     Problem Statement

Ensuring timely access to agricultural inputs by farmers, among others, increases the potentials for higher yield, good resource utilization and improved rural life and livelihoods. However, the agricultural input sector in Nigeria has over the years been plagued by challenges of inefficiencies, ranging from: lack of awareness, diversion of inputs from intended beneficiaries, untimely distribution and poor access to supplies, often too low to meet quantity demanded (Takeshima and Saweda, 2013). Even when made available, inputs were not easily accessed without difficulties as the process for accessing such subsidized inputs are cumbersome (Chirwa and Dorward, 2013). Access rate to inputs in previous subsidy schemes have been reported to be significantly low (30%), despite the huge sums devoted towards such goals. This led to poor yield, because most farmers depend on government subsidized inputs and rain fed agriculture in Nigeria and other African countries (Folayan, 2013).

To look at the factors influencing women and youths developed to address such challenges. It is important that for youths and women to effectively utilize policies and programmes aimed at improving their farm productivity levels, their perceptions in addition to their experiences of such programmes must be positive and favourable, for the objective of the programme to be achieved.

This study therefore, aimed at analysing factors influencing women and youths in participating agricultural activities in Jema’a local Government Area Kaduna State, Nigeria, questions were answered by this study:

What are Women and youths characteristics in the study area, are farmers aware and to what extent do they access farming, how do farmers’ perceive the farming in improving access to farm inputs, what are the factors influencing women and youths in participating agricultural activities, what constraints do women and youths face in Agricultural activities

1.3     Objectives

The general objective of this study was to evaluate the factors influencing women and youths in participating agricultural activities in the Jema’a Local Government Kaduna State, Nigeria. The specific Objective of the study is to:

i.                   Examine women and youths perception in improving access to farm in-puts.

ii.                 determine the factors influencing women and youths in Agricultural activities

iii.              identify and describe constraints to effective utilization of farming to women and youths.

1.4     Justification of the Study

Improving access to cheap and affordable production inputs is clearly one of the objectives of agricultural subsidy programs. This is evidently due to the important roles input plays in the agricultural sector. For these goals to be achieved, it is important that the pulse of farmers be felt periodically by policy makers and solution providers in the agricultural sector. Evaluating women and youths perception is one of such ways through which information regarding farmers’ experiences of the farming scheme could be gleaned to serve as feedback to policy makers in order to complete the communication cycle.

This study therefore provides useful feedback to all stakeholders in the agricultural sector, namely; Policy makers in Government (both Federal and State), International and Local Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), Private Sector, Academic and Research Institutions and others with interest in agriculture. Improvements, amendments and additions can therefore be made where necessary in order to ensure that the program achieves the objectives for which it was established; to make inputs available and accessible to farmers at the right time, right channel and in the right quantity necessary to support their scale of operation, for agriculture to be developed into a sustainable business and Nigeria to meet its domestic food needs and industrial raw material requirements.

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