Food security is a term that is well discussed in the world because of its role in boosting the world’s economical growth and overall development.
In case you reside in Nigeria and you don’t know the meaning of food security and how it affects the country’s agricultural sector and the cost of living of its citizens, you’re advised to read this write-up as we are set to discuss everything you need to know about food security in the West African powerhouse.
Food Security: Meaning, Importance And History
There are many definitions given to Food Security as some well-meaning organizations in the world, such as The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and World Bank, have specific but similar definitions for it.
According to FAO’s definition in 1983, Food Security is a phenomenon or practice aimed at “ensuring that all people at all times have both physical and economic access to the basic food that they need”
As for World Bank via its 1986 ‘Poverty and Hunger’ report, Food Security means an “access of all people at all times to enough food for an active, healthy life.”
However, we define Food Security as the act of providing healthy, safe and highly nutritious food for everyone’s consumption at all times.
In other words, Food Security is the state or situation whereby every individual has access to enough nutritious food at all times in order to remain healthy and energized to carry out his or her daily activities. With adequate food security, all countries are expected to have abundant foods for their citizens.
B. Importance Of Food Security
1. Food Security Guarantee Availability Of Food To Everyone
One of the importance of food security is that it enhances the availability of food for everyone’s consumption. An adequate food security practice will ensure that there are surplus food to eat and to export (if the need arises)
2. It Ensures Unrestricted Accessibility To Nourish Foods
It’s one thing to have large quantities of diverse foods, but it’s another thing to make the food accessible to everyone. An accurate food security will ensure that everyone has physical, economical and social access to the available food irrespective of class, financial status or location.
3. It Boosts Country’s Economy
If a country can ensure regular supply of food, its economy is expected to grow. This is because the Gross Domestic Income of the country will increase.
Citizens will also have all the required energy to carry out their day-to-day dealings which will help in generating more finance into the government’s purse.
4. It Helps To Reduce Crime Rate
It is believed that many people go into unlawful activities in order to earn their daily bread, hence the reason for increase in crime rate in many countries.
Food Security ensures that average members of a country can get enough food at affordable price because there will be surplus of food. Other important of food insecurity include:
- It helps to prevent inflation
- It helps in reducing over-reliance on foreign products.
C. History Of Food Security And How it Fares In Nigeria
It is believed that food security has been in existence for many years but it wasn’t generally practiced as a global activity. As at that time, every country has its own way of ensuring that food was surplus for citizens’ consumption.
Food Security eventually became a global concept in the mid-1970s after the world experienced a global shortage of food which led to famine and massive number deaths throughout the world.
Leading countries of the world came together to discuss how they could put an end to the lack of food facing many countries of the world.
World Food Conference was initiated in 1974 — a platform where world leaders came together to provide measures and strategies on how to prevent humanity from experiencing shortage of food (which is also known as food insecurity or famine).
Since the World Food Conference, Food Security has been an issue that concerns the whole world as world leaders often come together to provide solution to challenges facing the concept in any part of the world.
Some governmental and non-governmental institutions were equally set up in order to promote the concept of food security in all nooks and crannies of the earth. Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) is an organization created to ensure the reduction in the population of undernourished people around the world.
The 1994 UNDP Human Development Report, and 1996 World Food Summit (WFS) which was held in Rome (Italy), further helped in publicizing the importance of food security to people and economy of any country.
How Does It Fare In Nigeria?
As regards to food security in Nigeria, the nation was one of the first African countries to adopt the concept of food security as it was known for its ability to provide enough food for citizens’ consumption and for export purposes in the early 40s and 50s.
This was possible as a result of the country’s fertile soil because over 75% of its land is good for agricultural purposes and food production. The country also possessed great hardworking individuals who were known for their untiring farming capacity in the olden days.
Unfortunately, the over-reliance on crude oil — which was first discovered in the country in 1956 — was Nigeria’s greatest undoing as the government and concerned agencies completely switched attention off agricultural sector.
Despite being the world’s largest producer of yam, cassava and cowpea in 2012 (According to The International Fund for Agricultural Development), Nigeria couldn’t maintain adequate and supply of food for its citizens.
The country can no longer provide enough food for citizens talk-less of exporting food to neighboring countries. According to the Global Hunger Index in 2019, Nigeria was ranked 93rd out of 117 nations with highest number of hungry citizens.
. In the same vein, the latest UNDP Human Development Index revealed that the West African giant was 158th out of 189 countries with number of undernourished and poor citizens.
This is to tell you that the country has obviously failed in its mission and desire to provide quality food security for its citizens.
Major Reasons Why Nigeria Can’t Provide Adequate Food Security
Considering the country’s fertile soil and large human resources, it is surprising that Nigeria still depends on its foreign counterparts for food. We take a deep look at the major reasons why the country is failing to provide its citizens with adequate food security:
1. Insufficient Agricultural Production
This is one of the greatest factors affecting the country’s desire to have adequate food security.
According to World Bank in one of its stats released some years ago, 90% of locally-made food in the country are made by peasant farmers who are only involved in subsistence farming system. This obviously leads to lack of high food production in the country.
The government at all levels (federal, state and local) are not helping matter as they fail to provide accessible loan programs to rural farmers. They neither provide mechanized farm tools for commercial farmers, nor make favorable policies that will enhance massive production of food in rural areas.
2. Lack Of Good Storage Facilities
If a country as large as Nigeria can’t boast of adequate storage facilities, then, the country is automatically condemned to experience food insecurity or shortage of food.
Nigeria is known as a nation that loves to consume what it produces without plans to store because there are no sufficient or adequate preservatives measures.
3. Increased Rate Of Corruption
Nigeria’s Corruption Index — as released by the Transparency International in 2019— revealed that the country is ranked 146th out of 189th most corrupt countries in the world. The country managed to score 26 points out of 100, two points below its previous score of 28 in 2018.
Though The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) faulted the latest global ranking, it won’t be out of place to say that the Buhari-led administration is yet to fight corruption to the best of its ability.
Every sector of the country has one or two record of corruption cases, which ultimately answers the question: ‘why the country is not getting it right when it comes to food security?’
Nigeria — according to Forbes — was the world’s third most dangerous place to be in 2019, no thanks to the increasing number of terrorists in the country.
Boko Haram, Bandits, Fulani Herdsmen, and unattached (individual) criminals have rendered many people homeless across the country.
Boko Haram’s constant attacks in North-eastern part of the country, especially Borno state, means that the production of Sesame (Beniseed), Guinea Corn, Millet, Cowpea (Beans), Potatoes and Groundnut have reduced tremendously since the militant group began their operations in 2009.
According to Cadre Harmonies analysis in November 2019 (via FAO’s official website),close 2.6million people didn’t have access to food in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states due to Boko Haram insurgency.
Recently, Fulani Herdsmen have also become a huge threat to the security of lives and properties (including farms) of people living in the middle belt and Southwest regions of the country.
The social unrest across the country is surely playing a huge role in the country’s inability to produce a laudable food security for its citizens.
5. Climate Change
Flood, harsh sunlight, dry air and inadequate rainfall all have negative effects on plants growth in Nigeria, and that’s not expected to change judging by the present alarming climate change.
Climate change is one factor affecting the whole world and it requires major attention from all and sundry because we could wake up one day to realized that the earth is no longer conducive for human health.
Developing country like Nigeria is likely to witness the highest adverse effects of climate change which could leads to severe food insecurity. Other cause of poor food security in Nigeria include:
* Nigerians’ unimpressive gesture towards locally-made products.
* Lack of mechanized farm tools
* Government Instability or Lack of Good Governance
Should Nigerians Expect A Better Food Security in the Future?
Though things are not going as planned, Nigerians should hope for a better future as they have some roles to play too.
First, they must develop right attitudes towards Nigeria-made products. Nigerians must not make locally-made products look inferior to imported ones.
They must vote for the right government during election period because government have 70% roles to play if the country must enjoy quality food security. Let’s keep hoping and praying that the country get it right this decade.