Nigeria Has The Ability To Feed Its Citizens Despite Looming Food Insecurity

 

Abuja, Nigeria. October 16, 2013 - Today, 16th October 2013 marks the World Food Day. The Food and Agriculture Organization (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 undernourished. Unsustainable models of development are degrading the natural environment, threatening ecosystems and biodiversity that will be needed for our 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[1]. 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 implementation of policies 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”[2]

In commemoration of the World Food Day, NOIPolls, Nigeria’s leading opinion polling organisation has released the report of one of its studies conducted in March 2013, which focused on Food Security and Agricultural sector development in Nigeria.

In summary, the study revealed that most Nigerians, including Agricultural Sector Experts, are of the opinion that Nigeria has the ability of adequately feeding its growing population. However, experts claim that right policies need to be implemented and sustained in order to aver looming food insecurity. Interestingly, almost 7 in 10 Nigerians (68%), as well as Industry experts, affirm their support towards the on-going reforms in the agricultural sector; while acknowledging the contribution of the current Minister for Agriculture and the progress he has made so far. These form part of the findings of the NOIPolls Food Security/Agricultural Sector Poll.

Key Findings

A combination of research methodolgies was adopted for this poll; a nationally reporesentative quantitative survey and a qualitative survey with a panel of experts from the Agricultural Sector. In total, eight questions were asked but only five of these will be reveiwed in this report. For the full report on the Agricultural Sector please e-mail: editor@noi-polls.com.

In order to establish the perception of people about the food security situation in Nigeria, respondents were asked: To what extent do you agree or disagree that Nigeria has the ability to adequately feed her citizens? From the responses, the vast majority of Nigerians, about 9 in 10, agree that Nigeria has the ability to adequately feed her citizens (90% total: 32% + 58%).  A meagre 7% in total disagree with this statement (6%+1%).

Similarly, industry experts interviewed were of the opinion that Nigeria has the ability of feed her citizens. However, they explained that it isn’t enough to have the “ability” to feed the nation; there’s need for the implementation of right agricultural development policies in order to avert the looming food insecurity. They suggested that if right policies are not implemented and sustained over time, Nigeria may be unable to feed its citizens.


[1] www.fao.org

[2] Prof. Philippa Ojimelukwe

 

 

Respondents were subsequently asked the following question: What can be done to encourage more Nigerians to take up farming as a career path? The majority (40%) stated that “the agricultural sector needs to be supported”. It is pertinent to note that the respondents were referring to the support provided by the government. This was followed by 23% who were of the opinion that “Farmers should be educated on modern farming techniques and technologies”; while 21% suggested that “The practise of mechanised farming needs to be promoted”.

Industry experts, on the other hand, were of the opinion that the introduction of farming to school children from a young age, as part of the education curriculum, will get more people involved in farming. The experts were also of the opinion that the creation of an enabling environment for agri-business to thrive and provision for loan facilities would encourage more Nigerians to embrace agriculture. They pointed that agriculture in Nigeria is largely considered as a job for the old or for those in the rural area; unlike in the developed nations where agriculture is viewed as big business.

 

Furthermore, in order to gauge the level of awareness of the populace regarding recent agricultural programs, respondents were asked the following: Which of the following programs currently being implemented to support the agricultural sector are you aware of? The results show that the slight majority (26%) of the respondents said they were not aware of any of the programs mentioned. On the other hand, the responses revealed 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%).

As one would expect, the panellists 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’s worth noting that the panellists commended the administration for sustaining the 7 point agenda, introduced by late President Yaradua, as it remains a viable policy within which agriculture remains one of the seven pillars in this current administration, signifying continuity and sustainability. The panellists 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 stated 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.

 

 

Furthermore, respondents were asked the following question: Are you in support of the reforms currently being undertaken in the agricultural sector? The majority (68%) responded affirmatively indicating their support for the reforms currently being carried out in the sector, while 21% responded negatively. Furthermore, 9% of the respondents answered with “Not really” indicating they are in between and neither in support or not in support of the reforms. 2% of them refused to answer the question.

Generally, the panellists 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.

 

 

Finally, respondents were asked the following question: Which of the following challenges currently affecting the agricultural sector needs to be immediately addressed by Government? The majority (38%) mentioned that “Farming in Nigeria is mostly manual and small in scale”, followed by “Bad road network that affects farmers getting their products to the market” (25%) and “Lack of storage facilities that results in loss after harvest” (23%). Furthermore, 10% mentioned “Land degradation affecting output from farms” while 2% said “Imported food is cheaper, therefore farmers struggle” and 1% suggested “Loan facilities”.

Several issues were raised as the immediate challenges that need to be addressed by the Minister of Agriculture and the government. Panellists 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.

 

 

Conclusion

In conclusion, the study has revealed that while Nigerians are of the opinion that Nigeria has the ability to feed her citizens; industry experts are of the opinion that despite this ability to feed its citizens, more needs to be done to implement and sustain the right policies in order to avert a looming food insecurity.

Consequently, in order to encourage more youth to take up farming, most respondents from the nationwide survey suggested the need for increased support for the sector; while industry experts recommend the introduction of farming to children from a young age.

In addition, both nationwide respondents and agricultural experts expressed support for the on-going reform in the agricultural sector; with Industry experts commending the efforts and strides of the current Minister for Agriculture. However, they do emphasize that there is still a lot of work to be done.

Finally when asked which challenge in the sector should be immediately addressed by the government, respondents from the quantitative survey mostly mentioned the fact that Farming is mostly manual and small scale, and needs to be supported to become more mechanised.  Similarly, the panellists recommended the need to strengthen Agricultural Research Centres and Institutes across the country; as well as provide better Agricultural Education.

Methodology

The NOIPolls Agricultural Sector Survey involved the use of 2 research methodologies:

  1. A nationally representative Quantitative Survey that involved telephone interviews with respondents across all the geo political zones.
  2. A Qualitative approach that involved in-depth interviews with a panel of experts in the Agricultural sector.

The quantitative survey involved telephone interviews with a random nationwide sample. 1,001 randomly selected phone-owning Nigerians aged 18 years and above, representing the six geopolitical zones in the country, were interviewed. With a sample of this size, we can say with 95% confidence that the results obtained are statistically precise - within a range of plus or minus 4%.

The qualitative survey involved in-depth interviews with experts in the agricultural sector in order to gain insight into their individual evaluations of the sector. Interviewers used a composed interview guide, with open-ended questions and responses were audio recorded and subsequently analysed.

NOIPolls Limited is the No.1 for country-specific polling services in West Africa. We work in technical partnership with the Gallup Organisation (USA), to conduct periodic opinion polls and studies on various socio-economic and political issues in Nigeria. More information is available at www.noi-polls.com 

Disclaimer

This press release has been produced by NOIPolls Limited to provide information on all issues which form the subject matter of the document. Kindly note that while we are willing to share results from our polls with the general public, we only request that NOIPolls be acknowledged as author whenever and wherever our poll results are used, cited or published.

NOIPolls hereby certifies that all the views expressed in this document accurately reflect its views of respondents surveyed for the poll, and background information is based on information from various sources that it believes are reliable; however, no representation is made that it is accurate or complete. Whilst reasonable care has been taken in preparing this document, no responsibility or liability is accepted for errors or fact or for any views expressed herein by NOIPolls for actions taken as a result of information provided in this report. Any ratings, forecasts, estimates, opinions or views herein constitute a judgement as at the date of this document. If the date of this document is not current, the views and content may not reflect NOIPolls’ current findings and/or thinking.

 

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