CHAPTER ONE INTRODUCTION 1.1 Background to the Study Agriculture has traditionally been regarded as the mainstay of the Nigerian economy as it supplies food, raw materials and generates household income for the majority of the populace. Agricultural production has contributed to foreign exchange earning, government revenue and employment (Adebayo and Okuneye, 2005). The sector is a major source of foreign exchange earnings contributing 23% to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). It has an annual growth rate of 5.50% and employs about 70% active workforce of the population (CBN, 2014). Cassava (Manihot esculenta Crantz) is a starchy root crop that belongs to the family euphorbiaceae and grown widely in West Africa. Nigeria is currently the largest producer of cassava in the world with an annual output of 54 million tonnes of tuberous roots (FAO, 2014). The crop has become a basic raw material for many small scale businesses such as cassava flour mills, bakeries, fast food firms, restaurants, gari processing firms and is currently an income generating activity (Odii, 2012). Cassava production has been increasing for the past 20 years in area cultivated and in yield per hectare (FAO, 2004). Cassava is virtually grown in all parts of Nigeria with rainfall greater than 100mm and accounts for over 70% of the total production of tuber crops in Africa. This achievement has been attributed to the improved, high yielding, pest and disease resistant varieties produced through research collaboration of International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Ibadan, National Root Crop Research Institute (NRCRI), Umudike and other research institutes. The major area where the crop is grown extends from the coast in the south to the middle belt. By zone, the north central zone produces about 7 million tonnes of cassava a year. Benue and Kogi states in the north central Nigeria are the largest producers of cassava in the country (IITA, 2004). Cassava occupies a prominent position in foreign exchange earnings following presidential cassava initiative of the federal government of Nigeria. This initiative brought cassava and its potentials to a national limelight. The initiative had as its goal the promotion of cassava as a viable foreign exchange earner and also the development of the production system to sustain the national demand (Sanni et al., 2009). Nigeria has been recognized as one of the leading producers of cassava in the world since 2002 (FAO, 2004). The position and capability of women meeting the challenges of agricultural development cannot be overemphasized (Albright, 2006; Rahman, 2008). In Nigeria, women play a dominant role in agricultural production (Adisa and Okunade, 2005). Their active participation in African agriculture at large is also not new. Damisa and Yohanna (2007) also asserted that the role of women in agricultural production can never be underestimated as they perform crucial roles in the domestic economic life of the society. Women play significant roles in agriculture, the world over. About 70% of the agricultural workers, 80% of food producers, and 10% of those who process basic foodstuffs are women and they also undertake 60-90% of the rural marketing; thus making up more than two third of the workforce in agricultural production (FAO, 1995; Rahman, 2004). They are almost entirely responsible for processing cassava which provides them with additional income earning opportunity and enhances their ability to contribute to household food security. Women contribute about 58% of the total 3 agricultural labour in the Southwest, 67% in the Southeast and 58% in the central zones of Nigeria (FAO, 2005). Government intervention and the efforts of non-governmental organizations have led to a number of measures that support the production, processing and marketing of cassava. Through this effort appreciable progress has been made in the development of processing technologies and rural infrastructure. Several labour-intensive operations in processing notably, grating, dewatering and milling have been mechanized (FAO, 2004). According to IITA (2004) engineering research in Nigeria and other African countries resulted in successful mechanization of some of the labourous and timeconsuming cassava processing operations. Thus, the use of appropriate technologies or machineries is essential to meet for home consumption and industrial uses. Consequent upon this, there is need to appraise the level of acquisition of these appropriate technologies in order to appreciate the prospects and constraints. The adoption of improved agricultural technology is influenced by many factors ranging from socioeconomic, institutional to technological factors (Voh, 1982; Atala, 1984; Bolorunduro et al., 2000). 1.2 Problem Statement The Food and Agricultural Organization (2010) observed that in many developing countries, wide adoption of research results by farmers is quite limited. This is partly due to the fact that many of the farmers in developing countries live in the rural areas where they have inadequate sources of information. About 75% to 80% of Nigerians live in the rural areas relying on agriculture for their employment and yet spend high proportion of their income on food because of low production and processing level. This situation is further worsened by food losses that occur as a result of inadequate processing facilities (Ayichi, 1995; Kotze, 2003). Poor processing is a major cause of post harvest losses in the world with special emphasis on developing countries such as Nigeria (FAO, 2004). According to IITA (2004) only about 45% of harvested cassava in West Africa are processed into dried chips and flour. Cassava is the most perishable of the roots and tuber crops and can deteriorate within two or three days after harvest. So there is need to process it within the shortest time after harvest. Moreso, cassava contains a poisonous substance called cyanogenic glucoside which is usually removed during processing. It is for this reason that instead of being sold as fresh produce like other roots and tubers, cassava is mostly sold as processed product. Cassava processing is labour intensive, often characterized by low quality, low output per unit of time and full of drudgery. Emphasis is therefore required on appropriate technology for increasing food availability through increased processing and preservation. The modern cassava processing technologies such as the mechanical grater, screw press, mechanical sifter, and fryer (toaster) are in existence in Ankpa Local Government Area. However, enough research has not been conducted to study the factors that influence adoption of improved cassava processing technologies by women processors and how they affect the quality and quantity of the processed products. The only study available is on the role of women in cassava processing. There is therefore the need to initiate studies to probe into the factors that influence the adoption of improved cassava processing technologies by women in the area. This will enable the women processors to overcome the constraints militating against them and confidently adopt the improved cassava processing technology for optimum and better cassava processing enterprise. This study intends to ask the following questions: i. What are the socio-economic characteristics and institutional factors of women using improved cassava processing technologies in the study area? ii. What is the level of awareness of improved cassava processing technologies in the study area? iii. What are the sources of information on improved cassava processing technologies in the study area? iv. What is the level of adoption of improved cassava processing technologies in the study area? v. What are the socio-economic, institutional and technological factors influencing the adoption of improved processing technologies among women cassava processors in the study area? vi. What is the effect of the adoption of the improved cassava processing technologies on output and income of the women cassava processors? vii. What are the constraints to adoption of improved cassava processing technologies in the study area?