PROMOTING POLICY AND LEGISLATIVE INTERVENTION FOR FOOD SECURITY IN NIGERIA. “AN AUDIT OF EXISTING POLICIES ON FOOD RESERVE SYSTEMS By CISLAC ISBN: 978-978-50222-7-8 2012
A Nation is said to be food secured if food is always available, accessible and affordability in a balanced manner. Food security is therefore dependent on food supply at any given point in time. According to the World Food Summit of 1996, food security is defined as “when all people at all times have access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to maintain a healthy and active life”. For food to be accessible at all times there must be adequate resources to purchase the available food. Hence, poverty alleviation is a major component of food security.
Although several policies/agencies have been developed and implemented in Nigeria since independence to address food security, the country cannot be said to be food secured. Amongst these policies/agencies are the Agricultural Policy of Nigeria in 1988 which was later revised in 2001 to produce the new Agricultural Policy Thrust in 2002, National Seed Policy (1992), National Fertilizer Policy for Nigeria (2006), National Policy on Integrated Rural Development (2001), National Policy on Food and Nutrition (NPFN) and National Food Reserve Agency (NFRA). The programs include the National Program on Food Security (NPFS), National Program on Agriculture and Food Security (NPAFS) and Strategic Grain Reserves (SGR).
In furtherance to achieving food security in Nigeria were the other strategies keyed into which include the Millennium Development Goal 1, followed by the Federal Government’s “Seven Point Agenda” which has food security as its second priority goal, Nigeria vision 20:2020 and now the Transformation Agenda.
As documented in an audit of existing policies on food reserve systems, poverty and malnutrition have been identified as the major predisposing factors for food insecurity in Nigeria as about 70.1% of the Nigeria population lives below the poverty level. There is also a rural-urban and age differential in the distribution of poverty. Malnutrition on the other hand is manifested mainly as under nutrition and in-diet related non-communicable diseases.
Families in Nigeria have developed coping strategies for food insecurity which include cutting down on number of meals per day, postponing health expenses, gathering foods and roots, non-earners forced to work, use of self-assets, distribution of children to extended family members and abandoning spouse and children.
To achieve food security in Nigeria, several literatures and practitioners have suggested a close collaboration between stakeholders involved in ensuring national food security. These include giving special consideration for women in all rural development programs as more women are more involved in rural small-scale farming than their male counterparts, provision of easy access to credit facilities, providing incentives to youths to encourage their participation in farming activities thereby preventing rural-urban migration among youths, timely release of funds to all agriculture related activities, fairness in the distribution of subsidized fertilizers and other agrochemicals, seeds, seedlings, feed, vaccines and other items, encouraging mechanized farming by the provision of tractor services and other machineries necessary for rental at normal rates, and enhancing a good feedback mechanisms on performance of existing policies to assess the degree of success of the various programs using standard indicators. Continue reading