Academic journal article International Journal of Business and Society

Inclination towards the Use of Technology among Rural Women Entrepreneurs in the Agriculture Sector

Academic journal article International Journal of Business and Society

Inclination towards the Use of Technology among Rural Women Entrepreneurs in the Agriculture Sector

Article excerpt

(ProQuest: ... denotes formulae omitted.)

1.INTRODUCTION

The Oxford Dictionary defines technology as "the study and use of science for practical tasks in industry, business, etc." (Oxford, 2011). In other words, technology can be defined as a technique, method or process used in the production of a product or service or to achieve an objective. Technology may be embodied in machinery, computers, manufacturing equipment, production processes and others.

Technology has played a big role in developing the agriculture industry. The use of technology is widespread not only in farms but also in processing factories, particularly in food processing. Processing technology in the food industry includes refrigeration, curing, drying, bottling, canning and sugar coating (Omar, 2010). This technology has not only been used by processors and largescale food producers, but it has also spread to industrial use by the micro, small and medium enterprises. Food processing operations involves separating, stabilising, structure-forming, converting, and packaging operations. In fact, high-technology applications are also available in the food processing industry. For example, chromatographic separation, ohmic heating, ultrasound processing and intelligent packaging (Hightech Europe, 2009).

It is noted that the food processing industry in Malaysia is increasingly being dominated by women. The participation of Malaysian women in the labour force is relatively low (45.7%) as compared to neighbouring countries such as Thailand (70.0%), Singapore (60.2%) and Indonesia (51.8%), as reported by the Economic Planning Unit of Malaysia. The government, through the 10th Malaysia Plan (RMK-10) agenda, seeks to empower women to be more involved in the economy. Among the main ideas in the 10MP is the achievement of productivity-driven growth and innovation. This can be attained through increased use of technology. This scenario is the basis for the study with the focus on rural women entrepreneurs who conduct businesses in the food processing and agro-based sector and to understand their inclination towards the use of technology in their business operations. This study was carried out in line with the national agenda to achieve productivity-driven growth and innovation involving rural women.

2.LITERATURE REVIEW

The labour force is one of the main factors contributing to Malaysia's economic growth. As the economy has shifted from the agriculture sector to the industrial sector and then to the services sector, the structure of the labour force has also changed. Most of Malaysia's labour force participation over the past 30 years had been dominated by men. Several scholars concluded that lack of local participation is often associated with lack of information and communication on resource conservation and management (Kunasekaran, Ramachandran, Yacob, & Shuib, 2011; Johari, Ramachandran, Shuib, & Herman 2015; Ng, Chia, Ho, & Ramachandran, 2017). However, these studies failed to focus the significance of women participation.

The women workforce had evolved a long time ago even before Malaysia's independence in 1957. However, the participation of women in the labour market was low because of the role they held in a traditional family unit such as bringing up their children and doing domestic chores (Nor and Said, 2016). Most of them had engaged in non-market activities at home or in an informal sector such as the family labour in the paddy field/cultivation which did not require approval, certification or specific academic achievements (Shaheen et al., 2011). Moreover, the occupational segregation and discrimination in the career of women may have led them to abstain from the job market (Wye and Ismail, 2012). However, as economic structures change, a lot of improvements have occurred in the development of human capital. This, together with the growing demand for female workers have led to an increase of women participation in Malaysia's labour force. …

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