Gender and transportation issues in production and marketing of agricultural products in selected rural communities in southeastern Nigeria
The objectives of this study were to investigate gender characteristics, types and nature of transportation available, experience of farmers and factors influencing the choice of transport mode and freight charge in a rural setting. Data were collected from 60 rural farmers using structured questionnaires and interview schedules. Results showed that the majority of rural farmers (71.7%) were women, whilst the male counterpart was poorly represented (28.3%). Palm oil was the main agricultural product in the study area. Rural farmers, who had been farming for 5 or more years were 78.3% of the total, suggesting that only a small fraction of the teeming unemployed youths are attracted to this type of work. These subsistent farmers depended mainly on commercial mini truck and pickup van operators for the carriage of produce to the nearly-by city giving flexibility followed by cost as the most important factors influencing their choice. Results indicated that distance and the cost of vehicle fuel were the most important determinants of freight charge, whilst the use of Terminal Park was rated low. Although farmers appreciated the flexibility offered by the operation of mini trucks and pickup vans, it was suggested that freight rate may be lower if bigger vehicles like lorries are used. In order to achieve this, it was recommended that the government should establish/license in these rural areas, intermediate produce buyers and
cooperative societies with capacity for bulk buying and the deployment of bigger and more cost effective vehicles.
Keywords: Rural farmer, agricultural product, gender, transportation, palm oil