at: the nlrvers -oForfla --- a. --
GENDER ISSUES IN FARMING SYSTEMS
RESEARCH AND EXTENSION
THE EE\EFITS CF ALLEY FARtINC FCR THE AFRICAN FARE AND HER
Internaticral Institute of
Farmrin Systems Prcgram
PME 53c !, Cyo Rcad
Alley farming is a ne. arc inrcyative approach to rural living
that will cnanr e the face of Nigeria. y paper will aescriIe the
technique no strategy I usec to illuminate my own reseacn
findings ana extend tne alley farming system tc family farmers in
the villajes of Iwo-Ate ana OwL-ILe in Oyc State, southwestern
Nigeriaa. It illustrates the needs for closer Lin s tet.een
research and extension, as well as Ten, wonen, anc cnilcren in the
development, introduction, generation, and orgcing management of
In many parts of the humic anc suDhuaic trcpics, particularly in
Africa, shifting cultivation with the related cush-faLLow
slash-anc-burn cultivation is still tne dominant crop procjction
system. In this system short crcpping periccs alternate with
lone fallow periods. The fallow perice restores soil fertility
and rios the Land of many noxicus weecs, pests, anc diseases. A
large area of the humic anc suchufic regions comprising !'ijeria
is cominatea ty low activity clay (LAC) scils. These soils are
characterized cy a Low nutrient status, low available water ans
nutrient reserve, ano are highly susceptible to soil erosion
(Kanc ana Juo, 1981).
The traditional oush falltw system is linkec to the regrowtn of
ceep rooted trees anc shrubs that recycle plant nutrients anc
build up organic matter. During the fallow pericc plant cover
ana Litter protect the soil from the impact of nijh intensity
rainfall ana with the roots binc tne soil, as well as increase
water infiltration ara reduce runoff arc soil erosion. iPoreover,
Litter mulch ana shading by tree ana shrub canopies recuce soil
temperature anc reduces weea infestation.
In acaition to restoring soil fertility, the CLsh falLc4 provides
supplementary fcooa animal feec staking material, firewood, and
Where land is abuncant the bush faLlcw has been founo to oe a
stable and efficient methcd fcr soil fertility regeneration for
crop production. Food crops grow well on newly cleared Lana
follcwinc a Lorg fallow or rest period.
Yet, increasing lane pressure, resulting from rapic population
growth, throughout Africa has resulted in a shortening of the
allow periods. Over-exploitation cf lane ccminatec ty highly
weathered, fracile scils ano ceforestation is attriouting to the
downward spiral of the environment. This includes soil
degradation, rapiaty cecliinng crop yields, ano increasing
invasion of difficult to ccntrcl weecs. Rising population force
farmers to demanc mcre from the Lanc, to recuce traditional
fallow periods, and open anc clear marginal anc fcrestea lancs
that past generations avoicea (Kan: et. al., 1984).
- 3 -
The Internaticnal Institute of Tropical Acriculture (IITA)
rancates research or innovative ciolocical tectncLc;ies. These
innovations assist limited resource farmers to enhance the
productivity of their soils, reduce their neea for expensive, noa
cften unctainalte, capital inputs, anc increase fcoa supplies.
Pany 'conventirona' agricultural methods are not wholly suitable
for tropical conciticns. Sirce the average farmer in Africa
cannot afford the costly inputs conventional American farmers uSe
to address production problems, IITA developed a low input, soil
manacerent technology that can sustain crop production cn the same
piece of land indefinately.
This promising system is alley farrinj. Alley faring is
discussed as a technology' in the croacest sense; it is a
management system, not a new piece of hardware.
Alley cropping is an agrcforestry system in which tooa crops are
grown in alleys forrrec cy legurinous heagerois. The heoGerows
are cut back or pruned on a regular oasis ano are allowec to rcw
freely curing fallow. The cuttings are usec as a nutrient ricn
mulch anc as animal focder.
Alley cropping is particularly amenable to African farmers since
it retains many of the basic features of the tracitioral Oush
fallow, being easily adopted by resource liaitea farmers. Tne
leguminous tree species in the alley cropping system:
* Provide green manure or mulch fcr companion fooc crops
and recycles nutrients from ceeper soil layers.
* Provide prunings, applied as mulch, and shace daring
fallow to suppress weeds.
* Provides favorable conditions for scil regeneration.
* The hedgerows provide an extensive rcotinc system, in
addition to mulch to control soil erosion.
* The prunings provide a nutritious source of animal
fodoer, staking materials anc not to be understresso--
f i re wood.
* The trees comprising the hecgercws are lesguiinous anc
biclogically fixec nitrogen to the ccrpanion food crop.
In 1984 the International Livestock Center for Africa (ILCA)
introduced alley farming to family farmers in tio villages in
southwestern Nigeria. This outreach program was oasec on a mocel
attempting to integrate small ruminant production with alley cropping
- 4 -
through a cut ano carry feeding of 25% of the leucaena anc yliricicia
tree foliage. In crcer to give sufficient benefit to the farmer's
crops and avcio the possibility of dining the scil, 75% of the
prunings should be applied as mulch to the scil (Sumoerg, 19c4).
B. STATEMENT CF THE PROBLEM
An important objective in the initial phase was the identification,
description, ana monitoring of the client population fcr the ILCA
alley farming moael. The monitoring was concerned with explaining the
contrasting participation of particular categories of ien ano women.
Upon completion and analysis of an initial demographic survey
administered in the villages, ILCA concluded that only 29% of the
women in the area farmea, most in ccllacoraticn with their husoanos.
At this point, ILCA wanted to know why so few women farmed, anc why
even fewer planted alley farms (Report to the Fcro Founoation, 1984).
This research, which was supported oy a grant from the Fcro
Foundation, to assess the potential involvement of women in alley
farming. Findings, based on participant cbservations, show that
specific attention must be focusseo on women, if the benefits cf alley
farming are going to have maximum environmental and socio-eccnomic
Observations and inquiries produced increasing returns regarding the
activities of women's Lives. Initial information indicated that the
majority of women dc not farm. With baseline cata on Yoruba women's
involvement in agriculture sc weak, my fielo work was to acquire
- 5 -
valio/ pertinent, ano reliable data.
The increasing replacement of locally produced ccmmcuities with
manufactured ones anc higher school fees continue to pressure the
community members to seek every means possible to raise their income.
Both villages are now very "accessacle to the cutsice worla." As a
result, urban traders come to the rural areas anc export cutl
quantities of produce from the farmers. These very farmers once
relied on their wives and other village women to trade their prccuce
for them. In adoiticn, some of the ien in the village with access to
transport are harvesting fielcs ana acing their share of trading in
urban centers too. The neeo for the small time itinerant female
trader is aiminishinc.
With no other means to make a living, more and more wcmen in the
villages are farming. The majority of produce women grow ano harvest
is usec for their families. The crops that homen process anc sell are
purchased from other farmers. This is a matter of economics because a
womar's losses ano gains can be calculated nore readily. The crops
women grow can be harvested arc processed for their families as they
need it. If a woman buys a crop from a neichtoring farmer, then she
is under pressure to harvest the whole fielt as scon as possicle so
that the farmer can replant it.
Because women have been at the bcttom of the production hierarchy, in
terms of resources; the structures, relationships, anu activities
concerning them ciffer frcr those affectirc men. They are cften
relegatec peripheral status, so their activities are more liKely to ce
misunderstood, underestimated ana miscalculatec.
Previous ano currert information ana Literature availatLe on rural
Yoruba women indicates that they are isolatec in nome-oasea incustries
like food processing for tracing purposes. It was not what tne
literature stated but what it left Lnstatea that create inaccurate
images of these wofen in agriculture. The literature on women in
southwestern Nigeria is not wrong, tut inaoecuate for cesiuning
outreach programs in agriculture.
In the 1984 Report to the Ford Foundation, Okali ano Cassicy repcrtec
that they were tola ty villagers, in reference to alley cropping, the
"Women are waiting to see what happens." Yes they were waiting, out
not because they are 'less serious,' 'laggarcs,' 'followers,' 'Less
progressive,' 'less courageous,' or 'Less enthusiastic' about farming
than men. For reasons aetailec in this report, women were thought not
to be actively f.arming. The initial impressicr resultec in outreach
designed and targeted for men.
Therefore, the village women's impressions of alley farminS were
comprised of pieces of information passed on cy the male viLLajers.
The sketchy information provided to the womer Left a great ceal of
uncertainty in their minos as to what alley faring was aLl aoout.
Hoekstra (1984) states that, "Risk anc uncertainty aocut the outcome
- 6 -
- 7 -
of an activity illt Lower the farmer's perception cf tne expected
future benefits," anc that "Uncertainty atcut the outcome of an
activity will, in general, Leac to a Lower valuation of benefits tndn
risk because the outcome is more unkno.n."
Agricultural development selcom helps these who carnct take an
additional risk anc uncertainty to change. Any uncertainty is too
great for a subsistence farmer to accept. Rural women not
sufficiently irformec about alley farming will reject it. The results
of the demographic survey create an impression of women as only fooc
processors anc tracers and attricutec to the low participation cy
village women in the first year of ILCA's alley farminG program.
During the sixties many navigable roads were built in Nigeria. At
this time rural areas intiatedtea many 5-day markets. The markets
brought better roaa maintenance ana greater accessioitity many remote
rural areas. Farmers began tc sell increasingly more cf their farm
produce directly to the urban traders.
As a result of the ease with which the urban traders, who are capanLe
of exporting bulk quantities of procuce, can access rural areas ana
make direct contact with the farmers, preconinantly men, rural women
are finding it is no longer economically viable to trade long
distances. The direct Link that is being fcrged between the urban
traders ana the farmers, is transforming the open market in Ife Oaan
from a place that usec to market area agricultural prccuce only to a
place where women go to buy manufactured provisions.
Women with no other reans to earn an income are farming to supplement
their other income generating activities. As a result of tneir many
sources of income anc their natural maternal instincts, women are
financing of their children's school fees. Anc cue to their tencency
to frequent the markets, many are responsible for purchasing those
items needed, but not procuced at home (i.e. salt, sujar, meat).
II. INSTRUMENTS AND METHODS: AWOiN CMC ILE IWE (THE 3TLDE.TTS)
After living in the villages for a short time, I realize that many of
the women were inceec farming, ano most on their own. My initial
observation was, if alley farming was presented anc explained in a
comprehensive fashion aescrioig all the potential benefits accessiote
uncer different management systems, women woult be more interested in
alley cropping. So in accition to my assigned outies, I began to worK
closely and continuously with the village schools staff, students, arc
their mothers to gain more accurate picture of family members'
involvement in agricultural production.
In research at the household level, better results anc reliacLe data
were obtained by Living ano interacting with those around we as a
fellow communitymemter, adaptinr my methods of inquiry to situations
confronted, arc by keeping all possible channels of communication
open. To recuce tension, suspicion ana cata distortion I never
carried a camera with me ana kept taking field notes tc d miniuir. So
I must acmit that I have few slices to present at this time.
- 9 -
My research *as ;3sed cn participant ocservaticn, I sought acuitional
means to illuminate wonen anc ren's rctes in agriculture.
A simple data collection schedule was cesignea and auministerec as an
assignment. Information was reccrcec ty illiterate household Renfers,
through their children, on their laoor, production costs, income, anc
other farming activities.
I worked closely with the teachers, principals, ano students, trying
to transfer the appropriate Kncwlecge, information and skill neeced tc
understand anc complete the simple surveys. In acoition to
substantiating my findings on farming women, the students' assignments
provided me with information necessary to form a comprehensive picture
of rural Yoruba households.
The bonding forged with the village schools anc the students resulted
in increase acceptance anc accessicility tc the village housenclds.
The students served as transmitters of the alley farming technologies.
This approach has many advantages which incluae:
1) increasing researcher anc villager cooperation oy
having members of the target population participate
directly in oata collection anc technology generation;
2) reaucirg errors that can creep into communication translates
between two Languages;
3) reaching a larger segment of the population; ano
- 10 -
4) increasing involvement cf the ccrmunities in ILCA's
alley farming program.
The school teachers introoucec alley farming in the Agriculture
classes and then hac the entire class participate in planting a
one-acre plot with Gliricicia and Leucaena.
When the school planted their alley farms, it served as a
demonstration plot fcr the whole community. All the agriculture
students were given acequate seed tc plant part of a row in tne
schools' field, with plenty Left over to take home. This allowed the
students to trying the technology home in the form of comprehensive
information and seec, allowing househclo members to plant their own
Student participation shec icght on aspects arc processes of farming
overshadowed and misjudgeo by outsiders, anc enatlea ie to reach a
larger numoer of farming women.
As the year progressed I cevelopec a more hclistic view of alley
farming. I began to target the entire househcLo for the introduction
ano acceptance of this system. I realized that if all wemoers of the
household, especially those family-metmers who worked on the farm, hao
an adequate uncerstarding of alley farming ano its' cotentiaal impact,
then the family coulo access and maximize its' potential benefits.
During the 1985 planting season nearly twice as many iomen planted
- 11 -
Despite earlier reports on Ycriua women's low participation in farmin,
(Spiro 191, (;kali 1964, Francis, 19 5) it is my contention that
sufficient nuaners cf women aare presently engagec in farming in tne
villages to justify further intervention in the fcrm of alley farrin;.
Moreover, my findings conclude that potentially hign nurrters of women
are definitely attracted to ane interested in a system cf farming
which offers increased returns unoer a sustainable system to continue
to promote alley farming specifically to women.
The attractions of alley farming incorporating a livestock have Ceen
set out. Yet, there are several important reasons why the alley
farming system should also oe more avidly promoted to women. Tnese
1) Rural women appear to be increasingly forced cut of the
uroan trading markets. They are seeking alternative forms
of generating income. Alley farming can offer this.
2) According to Ycruba custom and tradition, men are the cwrers
of the Land. This is ccomon throughout many parts of Africa
Yet, in Yorucalanc, notocy is ceniea Lano to farm. Up tc 5C
of the women in my stucy farmec cr rented land. Cnce a wowar
receives permission to plant
on another's lared her crop is established/ and the farm is
maintained then that piece is ccnsioered hers. cut with the
increasingly shorter fallow periocs, when she is force to
let the farm revert to bush she loses ner hold. CoupLeo
with increasing land scarcity, women appear to ,e in a
degenerating position in regarcs to access to farmland.
It also costs a great ceal to clear new Land as frequently
as a rctatioral fallow system requires. Alley farming
offers sustainable and enhance cropping and livestock
production with increased land tenuresnip. Alley farming
reduces women's need for new lance to farm ano increases
their sense of security cf their existing farmland.
3) Women are unable to overcome the problems of increases
time, money, anc lacor spent on the necessary items neec l
for comestic consuipticn both food and fcou prcoccticn
items. In aocition, depleted soils result in foco crops c
in protein and other valuable nutrients for nuran healtn,
being used in the family diet. Alley farming offers I
potential resolutions to these problems by providing a
additional fuel supply, regeneratec soils for growing mce
nutritious fooo crops, ano the Leucaena anc Gliricicia seec
leaves, ana pocs offer a source of high protein food fc-
human consumption, (AID Draft, 1985).
4) Women suffer from limitec means of storing anc increasing
their capital. Alley farming offers potential for
improving their capital income ny the mecium anc lon3-terb
increases in returns from crcppinc. This capital .itl
stored in the usual manner, namely livestock. This lives c
in turn will experience inprovec health anc nutrition from
the Leucaena and Gliricicia foccer use.
Reconienaations for alley farming irclude the whcle hcuseholto as alley
farming benefit women, men, children, and infants. After my villageI
experience and interactions with alley farming men, women, and chilorenY I
1) Suilaing up the common identity of families anc compounds
with alley farming members. This can be achieved by faFring
support groups similar in structure ano function to
cooperatives. This woult prcvice the members with access
to information and support on the state of the art of alley
2) Further research on the potential of Leucaena anc Gliricioia
as human fooc and Labor save through the use of the trees
3) Increased attention on the short, mecirm, ano long-term
strategies in promoting and managing alley farms (Hockstra,
1984). There needs to be greater anc enhanced collacoration
between research institutions, like ILCA no IITA, extension,
and the alley farming families. The need for a system such
as alley farming is crucial, there is nc time to spare on U
petty rivalries ano competition.
- 13 -
Alley farming reduces many corstraints impircins cn African women's
role in agriculture. And as primary collectors of firewooc anc
contitutors to the family diet, alley farming women may te more
effective users, with more environmental impact, then men. Yet, I
woulc like tc rake one aaoitional ccrment. Mcst of us have a good
sense of what is taking place rural Africa. omen are farmin.. we
must strive to use, anc encourage others, to use neutral terminology.
Ey targeting men as farmers, adopters, ano users of technologies;
farming women ana their children are impressed that their role in
agricultural production is not ifpcrtant.
The comprehensive nature of alley farming cictates introducing and
providing the necessary support in such a manner so that it catches
the attention cf all Africans regardless of their gender.
- 14 -
1935 Agency fcr International Develcpient, L.S.A.
Leucaena: Let's Use It. Draft report, washinjtcn bureau for
ATFTica ~CTTT-ce5-T ecnical Resources, Acriculture and Rural
Development Division (AFR/TR/ARD).
1985 Atta-Krah, A.N.
"A Developmental Approach to On-Farm Research: A Pilot Project
Improving Swall Ruminant Procuction ir humido est Africa."
International Livestock Center for Africa, Humic Zone Proram(
Itaaan Nhieria. Paper prepared for the ICAROA/IDAC R eioral
Workshop on Research Methccclogy for Livestock Cn-Farn Trials,
1985 Francis, P.
"Land Tenure Systems and Agricultural Inrcvations: A Case Stucy
from Southern Nigeria." aper presented at a seminar on
Problems of Agricultural Development anc Land Policy, Lana
Acwinistration Research Center, University of Science anc
Technology. Kumasi, Ghana.
- 15 -
1985 Hoekstra, D.A.
The Use cf Econcrics in Ciadrosis anc Desian of Acroforestrz
Ssteis. 'Ternninan-Fi t ncunciT" crF- 3earc- i rf'or esrFy
TTtITT7. ;airc:i, Kenya.
1934 International Livestcck Center focr Africa: Report to the
^Fr -ZFouSy Lnria t o 'n. ^ Fepo rt sum ttec Ey -'Ihr'r R- Tl
ruwinant Procuction program in the Humid Suo-Tropics. Icaaan,
i e r i a.
1981 Kang, B.T. anc A.S.R. Juc
"iManagement of Low Activity Clay Soils in southern Nigeria."
Paper presented at the Fourth Irternaticnal Soil Classifica-
tion workshop. Kigali, Rwanca.
1984 Kang, E.T., G.F. Wilson, and T.L. Lawscn
Ale_ c2rcE2in:__ A StabLe ALternative tc Shi ftinQ Cutivation.
lniernatSonat Tnsfftute oT'TroptcT-~FcGTTFe; Icara'f ei~ Fi
1985 Ckali, C.
"Community' Response to a Pilot Alley Farming Project,
International Livestock Center for Africa, Icacan, Nigeria."
African Issues Center, Ecston, Mass. 5cston University.
1984 Spiro, H.M.
"Women in Agriculture: The Research Gaps." Paper presented
at the Wcrkshop on women in Agriculture, hosted by The
International Livestock Center for Africa, Itadan, NiSeria.
1984 Sumberg, J.E.
"Small Ruminant Feed Procuction in a Farming Systems Context."
Paper presented for the Workshop on SnaLL Ruminant Proouction
Systems in the Humic Zone of West Africa. International
Livestock Center for Africa. Icaoan, Nigeria.