STATE POLICY AND FOOD SECURITY IN NIGERIA: A COMPARATIVE STUDY OF THE AGRICULTURAL PRACTICES IN EDO STATE
Background of the Study
Food security has become an issue of global concern in recent times. Nigeria with her huge endowed natural and human resources is not spared. In Nigeria, food accounts for a larger and increasing share of family budgets for majority of rural and urban families. The Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO, 2008), an agency of the United Nations once raised alarm that Nigeria food situation was in dire straits.
State involvement in agriculture in Nigeria dates back to the colonial era, which marked the beginning of direct government involvement in agriculture development. The agricultural policy of the colonial government was primarily focused on encouraging only export crops like cocoa, rubber, palm, cotton and groundnut to support the Agro-industries in Europe. This started within the establishment of research stations in Samuru (1921), Umudike (1923) and Moor plantation (1924).
The government's priority at that time was to boost domestic production, particularly of the cash crops. This strong intervention pushed Nigeria to the position of the world's top producer of rubber, groundnut and palm oil, and the world's second largest cocoa producer at Independence (Onuwalaetal., 2004).
The Nigeria government was able to execute investment projects through earnings from export of agricultural products. In the 1940s and 1950s, Nigeria agricultural export commodities contributed over 75 per cent of the total annual merchandise exports (Ekpo and Egwaikhide, 1994; cited in Oni, 2012). Up to late
1960s agricultural products dominated Nigeria's non-oil export trade accounting for nearly 70 percent of the value of non-oil exports.
However, the introduction of petroleum into the nation's export trade had changed the composition and structure of the export trade. The oil sector which initially contributed modestly to the economy in the 1960s, became more important in the 1970s and it is now overwhelmingly important to the point of the economy becoming dependent on it, providing about 95 per cent of foreign exchange earnings as well as 65 percent of budgetary revenue (CBN, 2010) cited in (Oni, 2012).
Prior to the 1970s, there was no clear food consumption crisis in Nigeria (Aromolaran and Aromolaran, 1999). The food crisis became obvious when the contribution of agriculture to the economy began to decline in the early 1970s coupled with the outbreak of the civil war between 1967 and 1970 where food was used as a weapon of war. Nigerian government truncated food supply to the war-torn area which led to malnutrition. One of the major signs of malnutrition was kwashiorkor, a protein deficiency disease which was widespread during the period. Starvation in Nigeria/Biafra attracted international attention. Through the relief activities of international bodies different types of European foods were brought into the country and became available to a large number of people. Such foods included rice, milk, wheat flour, assorted kinds of canned foods and beverages. Gradually, many people developed a taste for these foods, which before the war, were only available and demanded by the elites.
In desperation to addressing this food crisis, Gen. Yakubu Gowon's military regime embarked on large scale importation of rice in the early 1970s to stave off hunger. But the Nigeria ports did not have the facilities to handle the huge importation of what came to be called the rice 'Amada.' The ports were choked by rice and a decongestion committee had to be set up (Ekpu, 2009).
The importation of rice could not tackle the long term problem of food security. This food crisis led to the drafting of the Second National Development Plan (1970 -1974). The development plan spelt out a more defined approach towards food production as the main nexus of the plan. The National Accelerated Food Production Project (NAFPP) was launched in 1972.
In 1976, General Obasanjo government initiated an agriculture programme called Operation Feed the Nation (OFN). This was intended to be some kind of agricultural revolution in which everyone was asked to be involved. The regime also established River Basins and Rural Development Authorities across the country saddled with the task of providing irrigation services to farmers. This was followed by the "Green Revolution" (1980-1983) launched by the civilian government of President Shehu Shagari. These programmes focused on strengthening agricultural production, providing subsidized inputs, community development and access to credit (Osakue, et.al. 1986). However, all these were implemented without a transparent framework to structure action and the successive government at the head of the country lacked continuity.
In 1999, at the return of democracy, the Obasanjo civilian administration publicly restates government commitment to combat hunger. A series of special programs was launched. They include:
(a) Special Programme for Food Security (SPFS)
(b) Root and Tuber Expansion Programme (RTEP)
(c) Fadama Development Project (FDP) (Bello, 2004).
Musa Ya' Adua's administration on assumption of office in 2007 listed food security as a core element of his seven-point agenda for the nation. While the Jonathan Goodluck"s administration developed a blue print on food sufficiency tagged Agricultural Transformation Agenda. The policy thrust was on food crop chain development.
However, in spite of these laudable objectives by previous administrations in addressing food shortage, a reasonable percentage of Nigerians still lack access to food to meet their dietary needs. The small holder farmers who constitute over 95 per cent of the labour force in the agricultural sector were not most beneficiaries of these government agricultural programmes.
Statement of the Research Problem
Nigeria faces huge food security challenges. About 70 percent of the population lives on less than N200 (US $0.70) per day, suffering hunger and poverty. Despite its reputation as petroleum resources dependent, Nigeria remains an agrarian economy. The sector provides over 40% of gross domestic product (GDP) with between 60% and 70% of the population productively engaged in farming.
Nigeria has about 79 million hectares of arable land, of which 32 million hectares are cultivated. Over 90 per cent of agricultural production is rain-fed. Small holders, mostly subsistence producers, account for 80 per cent of all farm holdings. Both crop and livestock production remains below potentials. Inadequate access to and low uptake of high quality seeds, low fertilizer uses and inefficient production system led to the shortfall (Nwajiuba, 2012; cited in FAO, 2012).
The agricultural sector in Nigeria had witnessed several problems ranging from farmer’s usage of crude and primitive implements for farming, inadequate capital, low level of education, inadequate infrastructural and storage facilities, weak agricultural policies, over-reliance on oil production by the government, land tenure system, poverty, ageing farming population, climate change, insurgency and Fulani-herdsmen menace across the country. Other issues militating against food sufficiency in Nigeria is appetite for food items not produced in the country. A former Minister in Nigeria, under the Jonathan administration, Akinwunmi (2012), once noted that Nigeria was the only country in the world that did not produce wheat but ate 100 per cent wheat bread.
Farmers in Nigeria also have limited access to credit facilities, for only one (1) per cent of total lending in banking sector goes to agricultural sector that accounts for 70 percent of employment opportunities. Also, the global economy is knowledge-driven and food system efficiency is dependent heavily and directly on agricultural technological innovations and innovations in relevant sectors. The low rate of educated rural farmers affects the application of new innovations to modern farming.
The crisis of insurgency in the North has forced some of the crop farmers and pastoralists to abandon their lands and relocate to the neighbouring countries of Chad, Niger and Cameroun. In addition, corruption in the administration of agricultural programmes has hinder the development of the sector. For instance, whereas the Obasanjo administration awarded contract to about 65 companies for the supply of fertilizers, the regime that succeeded it limited the number of contractors to three. Subsequently, the companies were linked to the late President Umaru Yar'Adua's family (Manuako, 2010).
Flowing from the above, climate change, corruption, low funding, insecurity, over dependence on the oil sector, structural imbalance in the economy and technological advancement can be attributed as the major causes of food insecurity in Nigeria.
Hence, this study attempts to evaluate the role of government policies in ensuring food sufficiency vis-a-vis its role in the advancement of modern farming techniques to boost food production in Nigeria.
Objectives of the Study
The aim of the study is to examine the Federal Government's policy on agriculture and challenges of achieving food security in Nigeria. The specific objectives are:
To identify the impact of state policy on agricultural productivity in the local government area of study.
To establish that agricultural development in Nigeria will help maximize economic self-reliance in sample area of study.
To identify the major challenges confronting agricultural productivity and hence food security in Nigeria.
To establish that state policy and food security can provide answers to food insufficiency for the teaming population in sample area of study.
What is the impact of state policy on agricultural productivity in the local government areas of study?
Will the establishment of agricultural development policy in Nigeria help to maximize economic self-reliance in sample area of study?
What are the major challenges confronting agricultural productivity and hence food security in Nigeria?
Can state policy on food security provide answers to food insufficiency for the teaming population in sample area of study?
For the purpose of this study, the following propositions will be tested.
• State policy tends to promote agricultural productivity in the local government areas of study.
• The agricultural policy of the government encourages economic self-reliance in the sampled area of study.
• The agricultural policy of the state promotes food security in the local government areas of study.
Scope of the Study
This research study is primarily concerned with the issue of food security in Nigeria; Government commitment to food security and agricultural development in Nigeria. Also, views on agricultural practices, prospects, challenges and gap in the country's quest for food sufficiency will be examined.
Significance of the Study
This study will be of immense importance to the Federal and State Governments, agricultural development institutions, rural farmers as well as the general populace on the need to enact and formulate the right policies and programmes that would help boost agricultural productivity and therefore food security in the country. It will also provide an in-depth knowledge of the role of state policies in ensuring food sufficiency, examine various agricultural practices and the prospect in the agricultural sector in Nigeria. Finally, the research will contribute to knowledge and existing literature in public policy formulation and implementation.
Operational Definition of Terms
It is pertinent at this point to define or explain some key concepts. This is to ensure good understanding or appreciation of what the study is all about
There is no academic consensus on the most appropriate definition of the state the term "state" refers to a set of different but interrelated and often overlapping theories about a certain range of political phenomena. The word state ultimately is derived from the Latin word "status reipublicae," the "condition of public matters." The early 16th century works of Machiavelli (the Prince) played a central role in popularizing the use of the word "state" in something similar to its modern sense. In political science, scholars have postulated different meanings to what the term "state" means or represent. For Engels (1880) in his work "The Communist Manifesto," claimed that the state is nothing more than "a committee for managing the common affairs of the bourgeoisie."
Dahl (1973) posited that the state is a neutral arena for contending interests or its agencies as simply another set of interest groups. It asserts that all groups have an opportunity to pressure the state. Ella (1988) identified the state and political power as the "Beast in the book of Revelation Chapter 13 (Christian Holy Bible).
However, the most commonly used definition is that of Weber (1919), in his work: 'Politics as a Vocation," he posited that the state is an entity that successfully claims a monopoly of use of physical force within a given territory.
Nnamdi (2014) posited that policy means a plan of action agreed or chosen by government, a business organization. It provides a framework which guide decision or within which decisions are made in a particular problem area.
Robert (1987) he opined that it is a statement of intent and it is implemented as a procedure or protocol.
According to Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO, 1996) food security obtains when all people at all times have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life. Maxwell (in Nana-Sinkam, 1995) opined that a country and its people are food secured when their food system operates in such a way as to remove the fear that there will not be enough to eat. He further stressed that food security requires that the poor and vulnerable have secure access to the food they want.
Furthermore, the World Bank (1991) cited in Attah, (2012) identified three pillars underpinning food security. These are food availability, food accessibility, and food utilization. This means that a nation whose food production level is unable to satisfy those three criteria is said to be food insecure. The major goal of food security therefore, is for individuals to be able to obtain adequate food needed at all times, and to be able to utilize the food to meet the body's needs.
The World Food Summit Plan of Action (1996) states that food insecurity occurs when:
People experience a large reduction in their sources of food and are unable to make up the difference through new strategies;
The prevalence of malnutrition is abnormally high for most time of the year and this cannot be accounted for by either health or care factors;
A large proportion of the population of group is using marginal or unsuitable strategies; and
People are using "coping" strategies that are damaging to their livelihoods in the longer terms or incur some other unacceptable cost, such as acting illegally or immorally.
Flowing from the above assertions of what food security denotes, the Nigeria food security situation can be said to be precarious and pernicious as a significant percentage of the Nigeria population is left with only the bilious taste of poverty.
The Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO, 2000) opined that agricultural practices are a collection of principles which apply to on-farm production and post-production processes resulting in safe and healthy food and non-food agricultural products while taking account of economic, social and environmental sustainability. In addition, Ogunleye-Adetona (2012) posited that agricultural practice which is broadly classified into subsistence and commercial farming is a process of farming in which farmers choose a particular type of farming practices.
In Agricultural Science scholarship there is a distinction between cropping system and livestock farming. Cropping system is a farming method where only crops is considered as the value chains while livestock farming deals with poultry, diary and animal husbandry. However, a farming system under agricultural practices is a combination of crops system and livestock production.