FOOD INSECURITY IN NIGERIA: A CRUCIAL CONCERN
Updated: Sep 1, 2021
Despite Nigeria’s agro-economic endowments, food insecurity is a colossal and recurring problem within Nigeria. Food security is the availability of and access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food. The first essential component of social and economic justice is adequate food production and distribution. Food availability is essential for effective growth and development, and a society is crippled without it (Otaha, 2013).
The actualization of food security in Nigeria is affected by a number of factors. Climate Change, as well as natural occurrences such as floods and draughts largely affect the agricultural sector (Uche, 2014). Floods were a major issue this year for rice production in Northwest Nigeria. Rice is one of the most consumed crops in Nigeria. According to a Reuters report, over 90% of the expected harvest was destroyed in Kebbi State by heavy floods. The huge loss amounted to about 20% of the rice grown by Nigeria last year (George, 2020). The year 2020 has been a rather difficult year for the global economy due to the advent of COVID-19. A reduction in labour market participation, trade restrictions, and inflation, has largely affected food prices, as Nigeria imports over 10% of its food supply (Olisa, 2020). Reports released by the National Bureau of statistics shows a surge in food prices triggered by the coronavirus pandemic (National Bureau of Statistics, 2020).
Furthermore, insecurity within Nigeria has also become a major threat to food availability. The present food crisis has been largely impacted by the state of insecurity within the country, which threatens the safety of local farmers (Agaptus Nwozor, 2019). The rampant and increasing killings has instilled fear in farmers, preventing them from freely working on their farmlands, which in turn affects output (ICRC, 2020). The shortage of output and the state of the globe, has resulted in the increase in food prices as can be seen below.
The increase in food prices is a massive problem. According to the World Bank, Nigeria is one of the 3 countries with the largest change in the number of poor, with an estimate of 5 million in 2020 (Daniel Gerszon Mahler, 2020). A report by the National Bureau of Statistics on four major states, shows the prevalence of food insecurity across all four states, with a large percentage of households, reported having to skip meals. The report also shows the inconsistency in social assistance in the states, with Kano receiving less than 5% (Team, 2020). The problem of food security is immense in Nigeria as local production cannot presently sustain the population due to the surrounding factors, and a large majority of Nigerians cannot afford to pay the increasing food prices, as incomes are reducing, and the rates of poverty and unemployment are increasing. Furthermore, social assistance by the Government is inconsistent and insufficient.
The situation needs to be evaluated urgently, and effective policies put in place to ensure the welfare of Nigerians on various levels. An effective social protection policy can be put in place, to cushion the effect of the food crisis, and cater to the welfare of vulnerable individuals. The policy should provide a transparent system to effectively monitor the distribution of resources (food), ensuring its passage through the right channels and delivery to the people. However, this can only be short term, as long-term strategic plans and policies are made and executed to promote long term sustainable food availability in Nigeria. Additionally, policy that promotes knowledge and awareness should be created to ensure more Nigerians are conscious of their choices and more proactive and sustainable, to have a uniform understanding of the need for sustainable food security.
An intensive policy that promotes high quality local food farming and production, to increase output should be considered. This should also be geared towards utilizing human resources to create more opportunities. However, the achievement of food security would be impossible if the insecurity that pervades and envelopes farming communities is not resolved. The state of security therefore needs to be evaluated and addressed. We have the natural resources and capacity. If effectively managed and harnessed, it will be sufficient to sustain the Nigerian population.
Omotayo Asani. Omotayo is a research analyst at Enyenaweh Research