PROJECT TOPIC: Identification Of Skills Needed By Women Of Agriculture In The Production Of Amarantus Cruentus For Economic Security

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1.1    Background of the study

Vegetable Amaranth (Amaranthus cruentus L.) is a member of the family Amaranthacea. It is also called Alayyahu in Nigeria (Vorster, 2002). Amaranth is usually green in color, but a purple one is also grown in some part of the country. The plant can grow up to 2m tall, seed are black in the wild plant and white in the domesticated farm and are eaten as a cereal grain. In Nigeria, amaranths ( Amaranthus sp.) is grown basically on rotted dung, dilapidated place or on irrigated fields and fallow lands with no deliberate or with just little cultivation performances. Seeds are usually broadcasted on beds or flat land. To avoid overcrowding the plant is thinned at some certain stage of growth and thus removed from the first harvest. They are grounded in to flour, popped like popcorn, cooked in to porridge, and used in to confectionery foods. The leaves can be cooked like spinach, (Gruben and Denton, 2004).

Basically, plant height is a genetically controlled character, but several studies have indicated that plant height can be increased by the application of plant growth regulators. It was observed that there was a substantial improvement in the growth and development due to the application of various agro-chemicals, fertilizers, micronutrients and the effect was more pronounced with the foliar application of GA3 (Ganapathi, 2006).

Vegetable (Amaranthus Cruentus) popularly known as spinach is an herbaceous leafy vegetable grown in Sub-Saharan African countries; the vegetable is unique among all vegetables in terms of short duration of maturity, profitability and it can easily be cultivated on small areas (Oluijide and Oladele, 2007). In Nigeria, for example this vegetable is widely grown for subsistence and it offers a significant opportunity for poor households to generate income through commercial production of the vegetable which engages relatively higher youth labour in various farm operations (Emokoroet al, 2007). The vegetable can therefore support rural, peri-urban and urban populations in terms of subsistence and income generation without requiring huge investments (Department for International Development and Research for Development, 2010). This is important, especially for the resources of poor (youths) farmers with low capital investments.

The vegetable (Amaranthus Cruentus) is one of the most important green leafy vegetable of the tropics, it provides minerals and vitamins (especially vitamin A) which are highly beneficial for the maintenance of good health and prevention of diseases (Onyangoet al, 2008).

Africa has experienced mixed progress in reducing food insecurity and child malnutrition in the past 20 years (Garcia 2012). Approximately, one third of children under 5 years of age in Africa are stunted and more than a quarter are underweight. Micronutrient deficiencies affect mainly women and children and contributes significantly to the global disease burden of children by limiting proper cognitive development, impairing physical development, and increasing susceptibility to infectious diseases (Asare-Marfo et al. 2013). Most countries in Africa are still struggling to address problems of under-nutrition and micronutrient deficiencies (Lopriore and Muehlhoff 2003).

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