iv. Community-based agricultural and rural development schemes:
This includes various development schemes and programs like “farm settlement” and “back-to-land” schemes. Such schemes are developed to encouraged the public participate more in farming through making farming implement more easily accessible and providing them with various incentives.
v. Provision of infrastructures:
The government embarked on infrastructural projects such as building new link-up roads in the rural areas and carrying out maintenance of existing ones, electrification of the rural settlements, supplying farmers with necessary farm inputs as fertilizer, seedlings and equipment; leasing farm machineries like harvesters and tractors as well as storage facilities to farmers or outright sale to farmers that can afford them to facilitate mechanized farming practice and reduce post-harvest loss.
vi. International Centre for Soil Fertility and Agricultural Development (ICSFAD):
Nigerian government also inaugurated the International Centre for Soil Fertility and Agricultural Development (ICSFAD) in conjunction with the United States. The objective here is to study the factor affecting increased agricultural production in the Nigeria. The Centre will carry out assessment of soil of various types from different Nigerian locations with the aim of determining the type of fertilizer that will be appropriate for farmers on each soil type.
vii. Policy instrument
This refers to the policy instrument and direction through which the government carries out activities such as
a. Banning the importation of some agricultural products which the county can locally produce at sufficient volume. This ban has tremendously help to boost the livestock production and agriculture.
b. Making fertilizer available to farmers at a subsidized rate
c. Improving financing of the agriculture sector through provision of additional funds for state-owned agricultural banks to enable them grant more soft-loans to farmers, and encouraging the conventional banks to grant low-interest loans to all classes of farmers.
7. Strategies for Achieving Food Security in Nigeria
Going by its definition, food security however will not be achieved by simply increasing the production of food. Even when food is sufficiently available, a poor hungry man will remain food insecure as long as he cannot afford to buy it  . Hence, all four components viz.; availability, accessibility, utilization and stability must be present. Efforts to combat food insecurity will therefore, not only make food available but also ensure that that people can consistently afford to make it ready for consumption. Omorogiuwa, et al. (2014) in “The role of agriculture in the economic development of Nigeria” stated that Nigeria is blessed with abundant fertile agricultural land and favorable climate as well as enviable human resources.
How then can food security be objectives be met in Nigeria? The panacea lies in improving agricultural productivity; enhancing science and technology; building farmers capacity; facilitating access to the market; and good governance amongst others  . In this case, the strategies for achieving food security are categorized into economic, social, environmental and technological strategies.
7.1. Economic Strategies
a. Promoting decent employment in the agriculture sector: this is particularly effective in the rural areas. A great proportion of the rural population depends on agriculture for survival, yet they are the most food-insecure part of Nigeria. Like in other developing nations of the world, rural farmers in Nigeria are highly informal with casual approach to farming activities. This makes them highly vulnerable to exploitation. Policies and programmes should be implemented to facilitate equitable market place for the informal farmers such as training and monitoring schemes.
b. Promoting the non-farm economy in the rural areas: again the rural population who are most susceptible to food insecurity are the targets here because the Nigerian urban economy is mostly non-farm based. As important as agriculture is to the rural people, there is need for diversification. While some rural farmers may begin to enjoy the dividends of access to the transforming equitable agricultural market enabling them to find their rout out of poverty and food insecurity, others may not be so successful. The whole rural economy cannot be based on agriculture. Some may need to exploit other non-farm opportunities which may as well be economically viable such as paid employment or trading. The government needs to provide orientation program and the enable environment for diversification of rural economies.
c. Provision of credit and incentives: according to Oni, et al. (2009), access to credit facilities has been shown empirically in various studies to have improved farmer’s productivity. It is important for small-holder farmers to have access to credit facilities particularly during the sowing period to enable them to enable them afford quality seeds, pesticides, fertilizers as well as hire/purchase of equipment needed for production. Fund may also be needed for labor support during harvest and for storage facilities  . Other incentives such as subsidy on fertilizers can also help improve farmers’ productivity
7.2. Social Strategies
a. Social networking and organized farmers cooperation: this is another important factor identified in Oni, et al. (2009) that can significantly improve the livelihood of small-holder farmers through inter-connecting and cooperating with one another. This helps protect the interest of the most vulnerable farmers in a group and can serve as base for human resource development enabling the weaker farmers cope with risks  . It can serve as a viable capacity building platform for farmers and other social groups to form a force and gain access to credit facilities, inputs, markets and other resources  .
b. Accessible education: this is indeed a mechanism that facilitates productivity in any field of career  . Lack of or inadequate education is the bane of farmers in Nigeria particularly in the rural settlement. This is mostly not because of their lack of interest but because they lack access to it. The government needs to make education affordable for the low-income urban and rural people. This will improve their ability to navigate opportunities and technical know-how in employing farm implements.
c. Provision of infrastructure: even in the most developed urban centers, lack of basic infrastructures as access roads, electricity and portable water can have immense impact on the economy. For farmers to be productive these basic amenities need to be accessible. Electricity for an instance cannot be compromised to power storage facilities of sometime farm equipments. Road and transport give them access to the market and thus improving their economy.
7.3. Environmental Strategies
a. Improved management of industrial effluents: Islam, et al. (2006) in their research of Impacts of industrial effluents on plant and soil in Bangladesh showed that industrial effluents significantly reduce deplete the nutrient content of soil which reduces the growth, yield, and nutrition of agricultural products. In Nigeria, oil spillage, gas flaring and other industrial effluents have consistently constituted a scourge for the agricultural sector, crippling productivity. There is a need for an improved monitoring system of industrial compliance to Environmental Management Plan (EMP) and follow-up program to reduce impact on agricultural productivity.
b. Regulation of the use of fertilizers and other agro-chemicals: the importance of fertilizers and agrochemicals in today’s agricultural practice cannot be overemphasized. However, they also have their associated environmental consequences. Where nitrogen from fertilizers washes into water bodies it causes eutrophication killing aquatic lives. Phosphorus can also make algae to accumulate in water bodies depriving fishes of oxygen leading to suffocation and thereby affecting the supply or availability of fish for consumption   . Measures should be taken to control the usage of fertilizers and pesticides by farmers through trainings and orientation programs.
7.4. Technological Strategies
a. Crop rotation and diversification: crop rotation, mixing and diversification is an important practice that can improve quality and yield of agricultural produce  . This technique basically help improves soil nutrients and can be used to control pests and diseases. This system should be encouraged amongst farmers.
b. Irrigation system: Oni, et al. (2009) also observed that irrigated farms in the dry savanna agro-ecological zones give higher productivity than non-irrigated farms in the same region. This system will be particularly useful in most part of the northern Nigeria.
c. Promotion of mechanized farming system: Ojo & Adebayo (2012) noted that the despite the use of indigenous CRP rotation system in Africa, Asia and the Latin Americas, food insecurity has been on the rise as these techniques are not enough to meet the demand of the fast growing populations. There is the need for mechanization of agriculture in Nigeria to improve production through the use of equipments, machineries and implements. Although, some large scale farmers have been using the mechanised farming system, there is the need to promote mechanized farming amongst small-holder farmers. To achieve an overall inclusive agricultural mechanization, the Nigerian government needs to engage other public and private corporations as well as financing institutions  .
d. Agricultural biotechnology: although agricultural biotechnology which involves genetically modified foods is still not generally accepted due to unresolved safety issues. It represents one of the success stories of science and technology in recent times which has an immense potential to significantly reducing the global food security challenges  .
Although food insecurity is a global phenomenon, it is more prevalent in the developing nations including Nigeria. Fortunately, Nigeria is blessed with abundant fertile land for agriculture and enormous human resource. Nigeria has a rich history of agricultural practice but it all soon changes with the discovery of oil in the now unenviable oil-rich Niger-delta region of the nation. The prospect of huge financial resource that could be generated from the oil resource distracted the nation from its agricultural blessing as all attention was diverted. The so-called financial returns from the oil resources are consistently manipulated and diverted by government officials and alas it is the common man who suffers the consequences. Hunger, starvation and malnutrition are ravaging the nation.
Food security can, however, still be restored in the country but some factors are still militating against the restoration such as insufficient production, gender inequality, inefficient policies and corruption, conflicts and civil insecurity, climate change and natural disasters, low technology for processing and storage amongst others. To surmount this challenges, the government must go back to the drawing board to provide enabling environment through promoting decent employment in the agricultural sector and non-farm sectors as well as providing credit facilities to serve as platform for the most vulnerable to cope with the economic realities particularly in the rural areas. While social networking and cooperation among small holder farmers will give them a voice, the government needs to provide basic infrastructures such as access road and electricity and make education more accessible to build farmers capacity. Oil spillage and other industrial effluents constitute a major source of pollution of soil and water and other components of the environment, thereby reducing agricultural productivity. There is the need for government to develop a robust monitoring mechanism to control indiscriminate discharge of effluent. Lastly, modern science and technologies must be adopted to improve agricultural productivity.
Conflicts of Interest
The authors declare no conflicts of interest.
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