The Role of Women in Nigerian Agriculture

Over the years, women have established more defined roles in agriculture. In Nigeria, women are involved in agricultural production, processing and utilization. A woman’s role in the agricultural sector is significantly affected by socio-economic factors such as income, education and access to infrastructure. In order for agriculture to advance in Nigeria, gender specific policies and services tailored to women in the value chains should be developed.

The Engagement of Women in Agricultural Production

According to the Federal Ministry of Agriculture & Rural Development, women account for 75 percent of the farming population in Nigeria, working as farm managers, and suppliers of la-bour. Though women constitute a large portion of the farming population, women’s possibilities in agriculture are hindered by formal and tradi-tional rules. Generally, the extent of gender in-volvement in agricultural production varies across ethnic groups in Nigeria. Nigerian women farmers work alongside with their male coun-terparts with some clear distinctions in activi-ties between them. In most cases, the men exe-cute the tedious tasks such as land clearing and felling of trees, gathering and burning of bush, and making ridges, while the women engage in planting. In addition, women also participate in weeding, harvesting, on-farm processing, and selling of farm produce. Generally, women are rarely connected with agricultural export crops such as cocoa, rubber, cotton, but rather in-volved with the production of food crops such as maize, cowpea, melon, pepper, cassava, and veg-etables. In some cases, women participate in small scale animal production including small ruminants, poultry and aquaculture.

Women involvement across value chains

Aggregators & Distributors

Aggregators and distributors are the first point of contact after food products are harvested. Bulk buying of food products is highly capital intensive, therefore women are restricted from this process due to low access to funding.


The transportation of agriculture products in Nigeria is exclusively male dominated. Women are in-volved in the sale of packaging materials used for most crops and processed foods such as maize, garri and yam flakes.


The processing landscape in agricultural value chains is mostly at the informal and small-scale level. At this stage, women handle the bulk of the processing. In contrast, at the formal processing level, established processing companies are owned by men.

September 20, 2014

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