Effect of Dry Season Tomato Farming on Poverty Alleviation among Women Farmers in Niger State, Nigeria
Generally, the study examines the effect of dry season tomato farming on poverty alleviation among women farmers in Niger State, Nigeria. Specifically, it examines the demographic and socio-economic characteristics of the women dry season tomato farmers, their major sources of resources for tomato farming, marketing and marketing channels for tomato produced as well as the monthly income generated from the sales of harvested tomatoes and the effect on poverty alleviation in terms of provision for food, clothing, housing, health care and children’s education. Three Local Government Areas (LGAs), from each of the three geo-political zones of the State were purposively selected .A total of 15 villages were randomly selected from these LGAs and based on the preponderance of women tomato farmers, respondents were purposively selected to give a total of 233 . Findings showed that over one-half of the respondents (52.4%), had formal education and married (53.2%), with majority (91.3%), of them having four and more people in their households.Morever,41.6% of the women practiced farming as their major occupation. Furthermore, over two-thirds of them cultivated 0.5ha of tomato farm, while only 2.1% of them cultivated above 1ha. Findings indicated that majority of them had more than four years tomato farming experience and access to farm land was never a problem but many of them (51.9%), relied mostly on family labour. Niger State Agricultural Development (NSADP) plays a leading role in the provision of relevant technical information to most of the women farmers especially, in the areas of improved seed varieties among others. Results showed that many of the women (61.7%),usually sold their produce at the village markets ,mostly every week either in retails or in bulks or both(47.6%) with an estimated monthly income of between N6,000 and N15,000 by many of them (63%).In view of this, their expenditure performances indicated that many of the women farmers were above average in meeting the following basic needs; food (52%), clothing (48.1%), housing (57%),health care (39.9%) and children’s education (19.4%).Generally the effect of dry season tomato farming on poverty reduction as indicated by majority of the women farmers was on the high side. Chi-square tests showed significant relationships between some independent variables and the effect of dry season tomato farming as strategy for poverty reduction; household size ((Χ2=246.29,P<0.05), children’s education (Χ 2= 353.3,P<0.05) and tomato farming experience (Χ 2 =121.7, P<0.05 ) as well as correlation between income generated and the effect of dry season tomato farming (r=0.85, P<0.05).Cobb-Douglas multiple regression analysis model showed a significant relationship between contributions to household expenditures and the effect of dry season tomato farming (F=6.54,P<0.05). Housing (t= -3.85,P<0.05), clothing (t=-3.56,P<0.05) and food(t=-2.31,P<0.05) were inverse but significant in explaining 62% variation in the effect of dry season tomato farming on poverty reduction. This implies that the more the income realized to meet these basic needs the less the effect of poverty and vice – versa. Analysis of Variance also showed a significant difference between household size, income generated and the effect of dry season tomato farming on poverty alleviation (F=172.5, P<0.05).Conclusively, income generated from dry season tomato farming, to certain extent helped in poverty reduction among women farmers. lt is recommended that improved credit assistance and labour saving devices should be put in place to further empower women economically , while special attention is being paid to health care and children’s education.