AuthorStone, Margaret Priscilla.
KeywordsWomen farmers -- Nigeria.
Women in agriculture -- Nigeria.
Agriculture -- Economic aspects -- Nigeria.
Marriage -- Nigeria.
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractMost scholars of female farmers of sub-Saharan Africa have come to agree that the transition from subsistence to market agriculture has hurt women's independent agricultural enterprises and incomes. Research conducted among a group of farmers known as the Kofyar of central Nigeria provides a case study which runs counter to this general consensus. Kofyar women have not suffered a loss of economic or social independence with the introduction of cash-cropping but have in fact embraced the new opportunities of the markets to produce crops for sale independently of their households. The Kofyar farming system as a whole is outlined, and the system of independent production is described within this context. The recent history of the Kofyar is sketched including, most importantly, their migration into an agricultural frontier, the adoption of yams as the primary cash crop, and the evolution of a complex set of mechanisms for mobilizing labor. The role of women in the cooperative labor network and in household labor is described and women's important contributions to all types of labor are linked to their access to labor for their own independent production. One of the basic arguments is that Kofyar women are prospering relative to other African women because their labor has been so crucial to the agriculture of the Kofyar both before and since the introduction of cash-cropping. The other basic argument for Kofyar women's relative success is that they are successfully exploiting the flexibility inherent in their farming system to maximize their own production. The use of intensive techniques such as intercropping and taking advantage of the flexibility in the timing of certain agricultural tasks on their major crops of groundnuts and yams are examples of this strategy. Women have, in other words, evolved a system of independent production which fits around rather than competes directly with male/household farming. The dissertation goes on to place women's independent farming within the broader social system by analyzing differences between women in marriage and childbearing statuses and histories. Regular differences in magnitude of independent production are found between women with contrasting social characteristics (e.g. age, marital status, divorce history, numbers of children). The portrait of the most prosperous woman is sketched. Kofyar women's activities are seen as an essential part of Kofyar development. The system in general has become more prosperous and women as important contributors to that prosperity are also benefiting as individuals from these changes.