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1.1       Background to Study

Reducing food insecurity continues to be a major public policy challenge in developing countries. Almost 1 billion people worldwide are undernourished, many more suffer from micronutrient deficiencies, and the absolute numbers tend to increase further, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa (FAO, 2008). Recent food price hikes have contributed to greater public awareness of hunger related problems, also resulting in new international commitments to invest in developing countries agriculture (Fan and Rosegrant, 2008). Global Hunger Index (GHI) ranking of Nigeria as 40th among 79 food deficient countries in 2011, 40th again in 2012, 39th in 2013 and 38th in 2014 remains unacceptably high and has indicated that no remarkable progress has been made from all efforts geared towards hunger reduction (GHI, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014). The GHI Report (2012) further posit that rising food prices, malnutrition and deaths as a result of wide-spread poverty is an indication of the prevalence of food insecurity in the country. It is also a sign of extreme suffering for millions of poor people.

Agriculture is however one of the most important sectors of the Nigerian economy, it contributes more than 40% of the total annual GDP in 2010 (NBS, 2012). The sector employs about 70% of the labour force and accounts for over 70% of the non-oil exports and, perhaps most importantly, provide over 80% of the food needs of the country (Adegboye, 2004 and NBS, 2012). Agriculture provided adequate food for the Nigerian populace both in quantity and quality during the era before independence in 1960. Helleiner (1996), showed that in Nigeria, between 1950 and 1960, food production was at subsistence but self-sufficient level. The economy was experiencing rapid growth of 4.5% between 1958 and 1963, the driving force being a booming trade in agricultural commodities export, growing annually at 5.5%. The first decade of Nigerian independence (1960-1970) opened the way to food shortages as a result of declining agricultural production and increasing population growth rate. The increase in population at a rate considerably higher than the rate of increase in food production has continued to widen the gap between domestic food supply and domestic demand. This disparity has led to rising food prices (85-125% increases in many Nigerian cities) and declining foreign exchange earnings from agricultural exports. The interaction of these factors has led to food insecurity and the idea of self-sufficiency is becoming more and more difficult to achieve due to declining agricultural production and inefficient food marketing system (Helleiner, 1996).

In order to ensure self-sufficiency and food security in Nigeria, a number of agricultural development institutions and reforms were embarked upon by the federal government since 1970. These programmes include: National Accelerated Food Production Programme, NAFPP (1973); Agricultural Development Project, ADP (1975); Operation Feed the Nation, OFN (1976); River Basin Development Authorities, RBDA (1977); National Seed Service, NSS (1977); Agricultural Credit Guarantee Scheme, ACGS (1977); Rural Banking Scheme, RBS (1977); Green Revolution, GR (1979); Directorate of Food, Road and Rural Infrastructure, DFRRI (1986); National Agricultural Land Development Authority, NALDA (1992); National Fadama Development Projects, NFDP (1992); Nigerian Agricultural Cooperatives and Rural Development Bank, NACRDB (2000); National Agricultural Development Fund, NADF (2002); Commodity Marketing and Development Companies, CMDC (2003), Root and Tubers Expansion Programme, RTEP (2002), and the Food Security Thematic Group, FSTG (2009).

Food security exists when "all people at all times have access to safe nutritious food to maintain a healthy and active life" (FAO, 1996). Food security entails ensuring sustainable access, availability and affordability of adequate quantity and quality food to all citizens to meet up with their physiological requirements (Okuneye, 2014). The main goal of food security is for individuals to be able to obtain adequate food needed at all times, and to be able to utilise the food to meet the body’s needs. Food security is multifaceted. The World Bank (2001), identified three pillars underpinning food security; these are food availability, food accessibility, and food utilization. This infers from the concept that food security is not just a production issue.

Food availability for the farm household means ensuring sufficient food is available for them through own production. However, due to lack of adequate storage facilities and pressing needs, they mostly end up selling excess produce during the harvesting period, and sometimes rely on market purchases during the hungry season.

Food security for a household in the overall would therefore mean access by all members at all times to enough food for an active healthy life. Food security includes at a minimum the ready availability of nutritionally adequate and safe foods; and an assured ability to acquire acceptable foods in socially acceptable ways in the community (that is, without resorting to emergency food supplies, scavenging, stealing or other coping strategies). Aside from food production, which a large proportion of the Nigerian populace is involved in, accessibility is very important to attain food security level. Food security at national level does not therefore guarantee that all people, especially the poor, will have access to the minimum nutrition requirement because of existing regional, economic and social inequalities (Alderman et al., 1993).

Community food security exists when all community residents obtain a safe, personally acceptable, nutritious diet through a sustainable food system that maximizes healthy choices, community self-reliance and equal access for everyone (MHSHABC, 2004). This research intends to evaluate food security status among farm household and communities in Kaduna state vis-à-vis the global interest to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger as reflected in the Millennium Development Goal.

1.2       Problem Statement

Worldwide, about 852 million men, women and children are chronically hungry due to extreme poverty; while up to 2 billion people lack food security intermittently due to varying degree of poverty (FAO, 2003). FAO report in 2010 put growing extreme poverty figure at almost 2 billion people worldwide, while in Nigeria, more than two-thirds of the people are poor, despite living in a country with vast potential wealth (Omotesho et al., 2010).

Food insecurity is a major risk for Africa. Of the 86 low-income and food deficient declared countries the world over, 43 are in Africa where the majority of the world‘s 6.7 billion people live under the poverty line. In sub-Saharan Africa, although agriculture accounted for 70 % of the labor force and over 25 % of GDP, the continent has continued to register low priority for investment in agriculture (Eluhaiwe, 2008). The situation has resulted in a new global trend in the demand for food. Thus, there is therefore an urgent need to transform agriculture in Nigeria, to take advantage of these trends in food demand. For Nigeria to effectively increase its share in Africa’s agricultural space and harness the market opportunities, the need to re-focus the country’s agricultural financing policy to develop its agricultural food baskets and its commodity value-chains to meet the food market product demands, has become imperative.

Nigeria is still however, characterized by high reliance on food imports. Malnutrition is widespread in the entire country and rural areas and communities are especially vulnerable to chronic food shortages, malnutrition, unbalanced nutrition, erratic food supply, poor quality foods, high food costs, and even total lack of food. This phenomenon cuts across all age groups and categories of individuals in the rural areas. For example, there is a high level of malnutrition among children in rural Nigeria; the figures differ with geopolitical zones, with 56% reported in a rural area of South West and 84.3% in three rural communities in the northern part of Nigeria. Nationally, the overall prevalence of stunting, wasting, and underweight are 42.0%, 9% and 25%, respectively (Akinyele, 2009).

A number of studies have been done to assess the determinants of food security vis-à-vis the socio-economics characteristics, mostly in the south western states in Nigeria (Adio, (2000), Adegboye, (2004), Agboola, (2004) Babatunde et al., (2007) and Oyewole, (2012) but none from the community food security stand point. But then, there may be food insecurity for some rural populations because they do not produce sufficient food and/or do not have sufficient purchasing power to cover their food needs borne out of community food production resources and indices. The issues of adequate farm resources and supply could also come to play in determining food security status in communities. Rural poverty is a very important issue in Nigeria, that needs redress as over 90 of agricultural production is from the rural farming households with little access to productive resources (resource poverty) (Obamiro et al., 2003). Many factors which may vary from region to region are known to be determinants of food insecurity.

1.3       Objectives of the Study

The broad objective of this study was to evaluate the strategy for guaranteed food security, a case study of Edo State. The specific objectives were to:

1.         Determine expenditure and consumption patterns of farm households in the study area;

2.         Determine the food security indices of farm households in the study area;

3.         Identify the major determinants of food security status among the farmers;

4.         Describe the coping strategies adopted by farm households to minimize food insecurity during lean seasons.

1.4       Research Questions

This study, therefore, sought to identify and address the following questions:

1.         What are the expenditure and consumption patterns of farm households in the study area?

2.         What are the food security indices of farm households in the study area?

3.         What are the main determinants of food insecurity status among the farmers?

4.         What are the coping strategies adopted by farm households to minimize food insecurity during lean season?

1.5       Significance of the Study

Food security is national security, and any household head that is unable to feed his household is not deemed responsible. By extension, any nation unable to feed its populace cannot be said to be a responsible one. Beside, recent estimates has put the number of hungry people in Nigeria as over 53 million, which is about 30% of the country’s total population of roughly 150 million; and of this figure, 52% live under the poverty line (Ajayeoba, 2010). These are matters of grave concern largely because Nigeria was self-sufficient in food production and was indeed a net exporter of food to other regions of the continent in the 1950s and 1960s. Things changed dramatically for the worse following the global economic crisis that hit developing countries beginning from the late 1970’s onward. The discovery of crude oil and rising revenue from the country’s petroleum sector encouraged official neglect of the agricultural sector and turned Nigeria into a net importer of food. By 2009 for example the federal ministry of agriculture estimated that Nigeria was spending over $3billion annually on food imports (Ajayeoba, 2010).

The connections among dwindling food production capacity, rising food prices, and dependency on food importation and consequently food insecurity are nowhere more clearly demonstrated in recent times than in the Sahel food crisis, which also affected many of the 11 northern states of Nigeria situated in the Savannah belt: The National Emergencies Management Agency [NEMA] says roughly 30% of the population (about 15 million people) in this region are food insecure.

Reliable information on household food security is a pre-requisite for accurate and effective design, monitoring and development of development projects (Charletto, 2001). Hence many development agencies considered household food security a guiding principle for designing interventions in rural areas. Measurement of food security at the farm family level will provide the basis for monitoring future progress and assessing the impacts of various projects, programmes and policies on the beneficiaries’ food security status (Hoddinot, 2001). Also, the community based assessment measure, a relatively new concept of food security survey method, will ensure that underlying social, economic, and institutional factors within a community that affect the quantity and quality of available food and its affordability or price relative to the sufficiency of financial resources are evaluated and made fit for intervention projects.

This study hopes to contribute to the on-going debate in development literatures on the relationship between household food security status and community food resources with regards to helping policy makers in designing policies and programs implemented to improve community food security billed to address diverse range of issues, including participation in and access to Federal food/agricultural assistance programmes, economic opportunity and job security, community development and social cohesion, ecologically sustainable agricultural production, farmland preservation, economic viability of rural communities, direct food marketing, and diet related health problems.

1.6       Scope and Limitation of the Study

This research study was conducted in selected areas in Edo State for budgetary limitations. Moreover, farm households sampled randomly were limited to eight (8) communities. The farm household heads were the respondents who gave households production, consumption and expenditure data used for analysis in this study. The data obtained were mostly from memory as most farmers are not in the habit of keeping farm records. From experience, data from memory recall are not absolute. The study is as well limited to the year 2018 survey period.

1.7       Operational Definition of Terms

Food Security: is a condition related to the availability of food supply, group of people as well as individuals' access to it. It is also the state of having reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food.

Strategy: is a high-level plan to achieve one or more goals under conditions of uncertainty. Also, it can be described as a plan of action designed to achieve a long-term or overall aim.

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