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The divergence between agricultural trade intensity (ATI) and food security in Nigeria
suggests that the linkage is ambiguous. Illustratively, the degree of openness in the
agriculture sector increased from 9% in 1981-1985 period to 12% in 2011-2015 while a 25% reduction in per capita daily dietary energy supply was observed during the same period. This crucial nexus in Nigeria has received very little empirical attention with existing studies being limited in terms of scope of food security and methodology employed. Therefore, this studyexamined the impact of ATI on the three dimensions of food security (availability, access and utilization)using separate models that were estimated using annual time series data for the period 1981 to 2015. Sequel to establishing that the data were a mixture of I(0) and I(1), the Autoregressive Distributed Lagged bound testing approach to cointegration was used to investigate the existence and nature of the long-run and short-run relationships. The error correction model-causality framework was employed to further investigate the extent and direction of causation between ATI and food security. The study finds that ATI has a negative and significantimpact on the three dimensions of food security in the long run;suggesting a worsening of the food insecurity situation in Nigeria over the long term. However, the positive impact of ATIon food security in the short run is not sustainable as it is offset by the negative and significant impact in the long term but provides impetus for making contemporaneous adjustments. The study concludesthat Nigeria has unduly relied on agricultural trade and failed to appreciate the multi-dimensional and general-equilibrium nature of food security, thereby leaving the country food insecure.Accordingly,the study recommends an overhaul of the entire Sustainable Food System (SFS)in terms ofsustainable food production, processing and storage; infrastructure, institutions and processes in a bid to enhance food security in Nigeria.
1.1 Background to the Study
Food security (FS) is achieved when people have physical and economic access to sufficient,
safe and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and preferences for an active and healthy
life (Food and Agriculture Organization - FAO, 2001). The availability, access and utilization
of food emerged from this definition as dimensions of FS, reflecting the importance of
changing socio-economic and structural challenges such asvolatile food prices, scarcity of
inputs, climate change, and demographic dynamics especially in developing countries.
Agricultural trade intensity on the other hand is a variable used to denote the degree of
openness of an economy to agriculture trade. It is viewed as the extent to which the agricultural
sector contributes to external trade (Ng and Yeats, 2003). It is often regarded as a measure of
trade liberalization in the agricultural sector.
In a bid to provide sustainable food security for its estimated population of about 178.5 million
(World Development Indicators -WDI, 2015), Nigeria‟s agricultural trade has increasingly
been liberalized since 1980s in linewith the rise of liberal economic policies on a global scale
(World Trade Organization - WTO, 2012). Consequently, agricultural subsidies declined from
an average of 45% in 1989/1991 to an average of 24% in 2013/2014, while tariffs have also
reduced from average of 35% in 1988/89 to 15% in 2013/2014 (National Bureau of Statistics -
NBS, 2014). Evidence shows that some of Nigeria‟s food security metrics improved within the
same period. According to a report by FAO in 2015, Nigeria recorded 11.2 million
undernourished people in 2012-14, down from 20.9 million in 1990-92 (i.e., a 46.4%
reduction) and 6.4% prevalence of undernourishment in 2012-2014, down from 21.3% in
1990-92 (i.e., a 69.7% decrease). Notably, the reliability of these seeming improvements is
offset by Nigeria‟s low living standard and inefficient distributive mechanism as indicated by
the high poverty rate of 62% and an average Gini inequality index of 56%.
The debate on the effects of agricultural trade liberalization on food security is still ongoing.
The proponents of open trademaintain that it raises availability of food through efficient
allocation of resources and facilitates the flow of products fromsurplus to deficit areas.They
opine that open trade raises incomes of exporters (in the form of higher prices than would be
received in autarky) and real incomes of consumers (through lower prices than would
otherwise be paid), thereby increasing food access (Thomas and Morrison, 2006; World Bank,
2012 and Lamy, 2013). The opposing view is that free trade is inimical to food security as it
stifles the livelihood of smallholding farmers and encourages export of food from deficit
regions and therefore recommends protectionist trade regimes (Madeley, 2000). Another strand
of the debate navigates between the first two, making a case for liberalized trade
complemented with appropriate domestic policies (See De Schutter, 2011; Burnett and
Murphy, 2014; and Clapp, 2014).
In response to the dictates of prevailing economic conditions in different periods, Nigeria has
witnessed a number of trade policy episodes. Specifically, trade policy in Nigeria has moved
between free and protectionist regimes based on the thrust of government policy. The second
half of the 1980s witnessed a significant shift in trade policy direction towards increased
liberalization. This change may be attributed to growing pressure to liberalize agricultural trade
consequent upon the adoption o
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