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close this bookRural women and food security: current situation and perspectives. (1998)
close this folderNear East
close this folder3 Constraints faced by women farmers
View the document(introduction...)
View the document3.1 Exclusion from power and decision-making
View the document3.2 Poor institutional support
View the document3.3 Lack of land rights
View the document3.4 Lack of credit
View the document3.5 Inappropriate technology
View the document3.6 Insufficient education
View the document3.7 Neglect by agricultural extension services
View the document3.8 Exclusion from research

3.7 Neglect by agricultural extension services

Agricultural extension provides farmers with information and training in new technologies to grow agricultural produce more efficiently. In the Near East region, extension services rely mainly on conventional methods, such as farm visits and village meetings, to provide technical information to the farmer. Data from the region show that the vast majority of extension officers are male and most, if not all, of their target farmers are men, in spite of women's active involvement in food production. This is largely a result of tradition, which limits contact between the sexes and discourages women from attending meetings outside the house. Women's heavy workload also prevents them from taking time off to attend meetings and courses away from home.

According to Saito and Spurting (1992), in the Near East, women constitute 19.5 percent of all extension staff and only 9.5 percent of all field extension staff, indicating that, while some women may be trained as extension officers, very few of them venture out of their offices to contact farmers. Data at the country level indicate even fewer female extension officers. In Yemen, the Sudan, Morocco, Egypt, Tunisia, Cyprus and Iran, the percentages of female extension workers are estimated at 19.6, 12, 11.7, 4.8, 4.2, 2.6 and 1.9, respectively (FAO, 1995c). When extension is provided to rural women, it is usually on topics such as food and nutrition, health, child care and home management. While these are important elements for food security, what is severely lacking is training in equally important domains such as growing high-yielding crop varieties and more productive farming practices. Since women farmers in this region have difficulty in gaining access to information and are hard to reach by conventional extension methods, carefully produced radio programmes may be used as a way to provide them with technical information on improving their farming operations, especially as this medium is widely available in many rural households.