Nigeria News

Nigerians believe country can feed itself despite looming food insecurity

Nigerians believe country can feed itself despite looming food insecurityThe NOIPolls, on October 16, released results of its Food Security/Agricultural sector poll carried out in March 2013, in commemoration of the World Food Day.
The study was carried out to determine Food Security and Agricultural sector development in Nigeria.
According to the report released by the organisation, “The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations (UN) announced at the beginning of year that the theme for the World Food Day in 2013 is ‘Sustainable Food Systems for Food Security and Nutrition’. According to the FAO, today almost 870 million people worldwide are chronically under-nourished. Unsustainable models of development are degrading the natural environment, threatening ecosystems and biodiversity that will be needed for future food supply.
“A food system is made up of the environment, people, institutions and processes by which agricultural products are produced, processed and brought to consumers. Every aspect of the food system has an effect on the final availability and accessibility of diverse, nutritious foods – and therefore on consumers’ ability to choose healthy diets.
Factors that constrain food supply and food demand invariably affect food security. Agriculture plays an obvious role in providing food and it is also an important source of income to purchase food particularly in rural Nigeria. Since agricultural policy issues and lack of policy implementation affect the food security situation in Nigeria, it is critical that ‘Government plays a more dedicated role in implementing policies that affect food insufficiency, food security and poverty alleviation’”.
Results from the study showed that the majority of the participants, including experts from the agricultural sector, believed that Nigeria had the resources to sufficiently feed its growing population. Experts in the sector, however, claimed that in order for the country to achieve this, certain policies would need to be properly implemented and maintained. 68 percent of the participants, as well as experts in the industry expressed their support towards existing reforms in the sector and acknowledged the efforts of the current Agriculture minister.
Participants in the poll were asked five questions:
1. To what extent do you agree or disagree that Nigeria has the ability to adequately feed her citizens?
Results showed that 90 percent (32% + 58%) of the participants agreed that Nigeria could adequately feed her citizens and seven percent (6% + 1%) disagreed.
2. What can be done to encourage more Nigerians to take up farming as a career?
Majority of the participants, with 40 percent, said that the agricultural sector needed to be supported (government support). 23 percent said farmers should be educated on modern farming techniques and technology and 21 percent said that mechanised farming needed to be promoted.
Experts opined that farming should be included in the education curriculum and introduced to children from a young age. The experts also said that an enabling environment for agri-business should be provided for it to thrive and also the provision of loans to encourage Nigerians to embrace agriculture. They also responded that in Nigeria, agriculture was seen as a job for old persons or those in rural areas but in developed nations, agriculture was viewed as a “big business.”
3. Which of the following programs currently being implemented to support the agricultural sector are you aware of?
A slight majority of the participants, with 26 percent, said that they were not aware of any of the programs mentioned. The responses, however, showed that “the program with the highest awareness was the seven-point agenda (24%), followed by the Cassava Bread initiative (21%).
Also, about 14% of respondents were aware of the Agriculture Transformation Agenda, the Commercial Agriculture Credit Scheme (12%), and the Growth Enhancement Support Scheme (3%)”.
The report also said that, “As one would expect, the panelists seemed quite knowledgeable about most of the past agricultural development programs, as well as the on-going programs being implemented by the Minister of Agriculture.
“It is worth noting that the panelists commended the administration for sustaining the 7-point agenda, introduced by late President Yar’adua, as it remains a viable policy within which agriculture remains one of the seven pillars in this current administration, signifying continuity and sustainability. The panelists also commended the efforts of the current Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development for his policies and programs aimed at boosting agricultural sector development in Nigeria.
“They further said that if the current agricultural sector reforms being implemented by the Minister are sustained, they would have great impact on the sector’s development and huge rewards in the years to come. In addition, the review of the Land Use Act was identified as very critical for the agricultural sector, as it would ensure the availability and access to land for agricultural purposes.”
4. Are you in support of the reforms currently being undertaken in the agricultural sector?
Majority of the participants, with 68 percent, indicated their support for the reforms currently being carried out in the sector and 21 percent responded in the negative. Nine percent of the participants responded with “not really,” saying that they were neither in support nor against the reforms and 2 percent refused to answer.
“Generally, the panelists had positive views regarding the on-going agricultural sector reform being undertaken by the Minister of Agriculture. They were of the opinion that all the policies and programs emanating from the reform process are well-thought ideas and genuine motives aimed at stimulating growth in the sector and the nation at large. It is believed that if the current reforms are well implemented and sustained, it could well ease Nigeria’s dependence on the oil sector, reduce importation of agriculture products and create enormous employment opportunities, particularly for the youths,” the report stated.
5. Which of the following challenges currently facing the agricultural sector needs to be immediately addressed by the government?
Majority of the participants, with 38 percent, said farming in Nigeria was mostly manual and done in small scale. 25 percent said bad road networks affected the ease of farmers getting their products to the market. 23 percent said lack of effective storage facilities resulted in the loss of harvested items; ten percent said land degradation affected the output of farms; two percent said farmers struggled because imported food was cheaper and one percent said loan facilities.
The report went on to say that, “several issues were raised as the immediate challenges that need to be addressed by the Minister of Agriculture and the government. Panelists saw a need to strengthen agricultural research centres and institutes across the country, so that farmers can have access to improved farming processes and methods emanating from rigorous and well-funded scientific research.
“Also, agricultural education needs to be better encouraged and enhanced by the Ministry of Education. Furthermore, food processing and production industries need to be located across the country to reduce post-harvest wastage.”
The poll was carried out through a national representative quantitative survey, involving telephone interviews with 1,001 participants of legal age from the six geo-political zones across Nigeria, and also a Qualitative approach involving interviews with experts in the agricultural sector.

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