Factors Constraining Women Farmers' Access to Agricultural Extension Services in Sierra Leone

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  • Women farmers in Africa traditionally have been involved in various aspects of farming while receiving little of the infrastructural support that male farmers enjoy. This study on access to agricultural extension services among the women of Sierra Leone illustrates the situation faced by women farmers throughout the Third World and Africa. African men perform the heavy jobs of land clearing, hoeing and fencing, but it is women who weed, harvest, transport, store, process and market produce, in addition to feeding and caring for livestock. The work of women farmers in raising food crops, however, is seldom perceived by officialdom as productive labour. Women often fail to be seen as \"serious\" farmers: men are the real farmers, and women are unpaid labour, or merely \"helpers.\" The perception of women farmers as nonproductive has hindered their access to land, extension services and credit sources, resulting in less than optimal production of the food crops for which they are responsible. Furthermore, invisibility in the field results in neglect of women farmers at the development planning stage. The study of Sierra Leone's women farmers is a necessary step towards recognizing their role in crop production and promoting their inclusion in planning programs. This survey analyzes the importance to women of the different extension services available to farmers, as well as the demographic characteristics of women involved in farming.

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    Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 3.0 International