The position of rural women in terms of their lack of involvement in traditional belief systems, and the social norms this creates and reinforces, helps to disallow most women from participating in some agricultural activities in south-western Nigeria. As in many places across Africa, there has been a strict division and demarcation terms of labour used by gender in agriculture, and as a major employment sector, this has contributed to women lagging behind men in most indicators of socio- economic development. This study, conducted among rural communities in Ekiti and Ogun States, was designed to asses the socio-economic characteristics of the respondents (102 in total), identify which activities were performed by men, women, or both in agriculture, highlight the constraints posed by traditional beliefs and practices on women farmers, and also the productivity level of the respondents.
Primary data were collected through the use of well structured interview schedule, and descriptive statistics such as percentages and frequency distribution were used to analyse the resulting qualitative data. A regression model was then employed to test for the existence of any relationship between the socio-economic characteristics of the respondents and their productivity. The study revealed that women participate in most of the agricultural activities, combining them with other income generating activities and the upkeep of their families. It was found that gender, religion and farming experience all affect the productivity of farmers in the study area: men and Muslims show higher productivity, reflecting a greater level to access to production inputs, while farming experience correlated strongly with higher productivity. Most of the respondents identified input accessibility, land acquisition, and cultural beliefs as major constraints to women’s participation in agricultural activities.