AGRICULTURE AND FOOD SECURITY FOR COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT IN NIGERIA

agric

 

AGRICULTURE AND FOOD SECURITY FOR COMMUNITY

DEVELOPMENT IN NIGERIA

 

BY

Oji Emmanuel Wichendu

Department of Curriculum Studies/Instructional Technology.

Ignatius Ajuru University of Education Rumuolumeni, Port Harcourt

 

 

Abstract

This paper is focused on Agriculture and food security for community Development (CD), recalling that Agriculture has been a common practice of cultivation of food crops and rearing of livestock, marketing, processing and packaging of these for man’s use. secondly, that Agricultural production before the discovery of crude oil, was the most important and viable sector of the Nigerian economy, as it provided the required basic needs such as food, shelter, employment, income, foreign exchange, raw materials of the industries and so no. with the advent of oil boom in he 70s, crude oil products became the major source of revenue to the economy, and agricultural activities were relegated to the background, especially the rural-urban migration that made the able bodied young men and women to move to the urban centres in search of white collar jobs, leaving the aged men and women behind to till the soil and reduced the agricultural production output of the nation, which affected the GDP. The recent drop in oil price in world market compounded the issue to what is today known as “global food crises and global economic melt down”. The paper itemized the role of Agriculture in Nation building, issues on food security, past and current programmes and polices of food security, challenges of the Nigeria, conclusion and recommendations.

 

Introduction

The synergy that exists between agricultural production and food security for community development cannot be over emphasized, since agriculture is the foundation upon which food security and community development is built. It is very necessary to note that human existence on earth depends largely on agricultural activities and its allied industries, that is why there is hardly nation building. This paper avers that, one of he most vital needs of man is an adequate supply of nutritious food and to a very large extent the proportion of raw materials required for sustaining the productive or manufacturing industries of every nation’s industrial plans is attained through full capacity utilization level of agricultural produce and products.

 

The Role of Agriculture in Nation Building

          Agriculture contributes to creation or generation of employment/career opportunities to able bodied men and women, especially the school leavers. Agriculture creates room for occupation and professionalism in the areas of agricultural education, agricultural engineering, crop science, farm management, animal science, or husbandry, economics and extension, veterinary medicine, Horticulture, Silviculture, fisheries and so on. It assists to enhance the productive income of the rural farmers, which is added to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the nation. Ojoko (2000), mentioned that, Agriculture through education helps school leaver or graduates targeting to work in the agricultural sector to acquire and develop their requisite skills, knowledge and positive attitudes to agriculture. It builds the graduates agriculturists capacity for sourcing of credit, management and marketing of products Osah, (2011). Agriculture attracts social infrastructure to rural communities such as roads, pipe borne water, transportation, hospital, school etc. agriculture encourages research activities through application of genetic principles on improved farm input.

The role of agriculture in nation building cannot be over emphasized and exhausted in this paper, because indicators of agricultural development suchas high yield of crops and livestock for the masses or people, and raw materials for feeding the industrial sector are serious pre requisite for food security for community development.

 

Issues on food security

          Food security is an opposite of food crises or scarcity. This issue of food security is a global discourse, especially on how to increase yield of produce and preserve food for human and livestock consumption. Nwosu (2004), mentioned that the level of food crises in the globe have grown to the stage that food has become a serious world problem. It is the most precious of all resources available to mankind. It has become a political weapon. Nwosu (2004:13), further pointed out that Willy Brandt, before the United Nations General Assembly in 1973 said: “Morally it makes no difference whether a man is killed in war or is condemned to starve to death by the indifference of others.” Even if we maintain average projections for population growth during the next fifty years, world wide demand for food will continue to increase several fold. Any projections that will seriously solve the food problem and understand the strain demand for food will impose on the world. So, we do not need to look into the future. Measaurovic and Pestel cited in Nwosu (2004), adds that the situation of the world food crises is already critical, even when the people or nations in various parts of the world differs depending on availability, type and course, climatic and cultural factors and so on.

UNESCO records, food estimate, according, cited in Nwosu (2004), outlined, that between 400 and 500 million children suffered from malnutrition and starvation in 1973, and this is not new, because it has been calculated that the availability per capita of food world wide has not increased since 1936. That 20 years ago world food stockpiles for emergence relief amounted to an eight-day supply. Today, those reserves are sufficient for only thirty consumption-early three fold reduction. That before the world war II, the world was about equally divided into region that imported food and regions capable of exporting food. Since that war, some regions like Latin America and Eastern Europe that were exporters have been importers, only North America and Australia can be considered major potential sources of food supply, excluding African continent.

It is in view of this fact that the issue of food security became discourse of global concern including Nigeria.

 

Past Programmes for Food Security in Nigeria

          In Nigeria past agricultural intervention programmes and policies efforts have been made in the area of agricultural production and food security. These programmes are: Establishment of Niger Delta Development Board (NDDB), Niger Delta Basin Development Authority (NDBDA), Operation Feed the Nation (OFN), Green Revolution (GR), Farm settlement schemes (FSS), Community Block Farming (CDF), National Agricultural Land Development Authority (NALDA), National Directorate of Employment (NDE), Directorate of food, Road and Rural Infrastructure (DFRRI), people’s Bank of Nigeria (PBN), Better Life for rural women (BLRW), Establishment of Agriculture Development Programmes (ADPS), The use of Agricultural Science graduates as programme facilitators of the ADP’s, establishment of more school, colleges and Universities of Agriculture. Establishment of research centers amongst others.

 

 

Past Agricultural Policies of Food Security in Nigeria

The policies include:

 

Agricultural policy of 1988 had the overall goal of ensuring self-sufficiency in all the sub-sectors as well as structural transformation necessary for the socio-economic development of the rural areas.

 

Agricultural policy of 2001 had the following objectives:

* The achievement of self-sufficiency in basic food supply and the attainment of             food security.

* Increase production of agricultural raw materials for the industries. * Increased production and processing of export crops using improved technologies. * Generating gainful employment * Rational utilization of agricultural land resources * Promotion of the increased application of modern technologies to agricultural production * Improvement in the quality of life of rural farmers. Lawson (2008).

These government Agricultural intervention programmes and policies failed and proved ineffective as a result of certain reasons that has to do with; * Political instability * Bad governance * Diversion of fund * Political agitations * Changes in policy content * Improper implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the programme Okorobia (2010).

 

Current Agricultural intervention programmes and policies for food security include;

* FADAMA I, II and III. Projects. * Root tuber Expansion Programme (RTEP). * Women in Agriculture (W.A). * National Farmers Database (NFDB). * All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN). * National Programme for Food Security (NPFS). * Youths Farmer Field School (YFFS) * Formation of Co-operative Societies * Establishment of Micro – Finance Banks. * Establishment of Songa Farm Centres * Micro Project Programmes 3 (MPP3) *Transformation of National Directorate of Employment (NDE) *National Poverty Eradication Programme (NAPEP). *State Economic Empowerment Development Strategies (SEEDS). Uzoka (2010). The current programmes and policies of food security has not been fully assessed, as to determine whether the stated objectives have been actualized or achieved. But rather they are faced with the following challenges; * Issues of who are the real famers? * Education of the rural farmer to adapt to new technological innovations in agricultural productivity. * Disbursement of fund direct to the real farmers especially the rural ones. * Delay or late distribution of farm inputs before planting season *Proper monitoring and evaluation of the programme periodically, * Inadequate information and communication on when to collect and plant improved farm inputs and applications of chemicals. Egocentrism among the youth towards agriculture as an occupation * Good ready market/market structure * Gap between the farmer practice/research and the extension recommendations. * Gender imbalance on who should produce a particular type of priority crop (Men or Women) * Labour issue (scarcity and high cost)

As a result of rural – urban migration. * Proper funding of research activities * Land issue based on rapid population growth and demand for land for other purposes * Inadequate rural infrastructure, especially good roads to evacuate produce, electricity to process agric-bye–products.

The development challenges facing agriculture in Nigeria stems mainly from many government officials misconstruction of the purpose of governance and of the opportunities they have as individuals in government, Osah (2011), In a plan language observed that, many Nigerians at the various levels of government is the exercise of supreme authority and power in public affairs, while cleverly enriching the incumbent civil/public officer through perpetrating or condemning corrupt practices.

 

 

The place of CD as a result of strengthening agriculture and food security.

          Therefore, the place of community development in this paper is not in doubt, because agricultural practices that will lead to food security is not done or practiced in the open Heavens, rather on the surface of the earth, which is the land that is owned by individuals or the community as a whole. Mohana (2009), deformed community as a collective of people having common interests, often living in the same place showing the same institutions, laws and regulations or a network of people shaped by joint experiences, sharing certain common values, having specific concerns, feeling, bonded to each other, and often living in a particular geopolitical area. So, when such practices are carried out by either the government or individuals, it is certain that the community members will benefit through the stated community development objectives of such programmes. Such benefits to the communities are called “community development indices of expectation”. Community development is an age long practice in Africa and Nigeria, because from he earliest period of human history, men have sought to improve their lot, and CD is only a modern way of doing this, (Oyabamiji and Adekola, 2008).

In farming activities, age grade groups usually engage in cmunal work. They may help other members of the group in clearing, planting or harvesting or helping the community to build road. Community development concept started in Cambrige summer conference of 1948, which defined it as:

A movement designed to promote better living with the active participation and if possible on the initiative of the community, but if this initiative is not forthcoming spontaneously by the use of techniques for arousing and stimulation it in order to ensure its active and enthusiastic response to the movement. (Oduaran, 1994: 7).

 

This definition gave a guide to United Nation Organization (UNO) conference in 1963 that today enjoys wider acceptability of CD as:

A process by which the efforts of the people themselves are united with those of government authorities to improve the economic, social and cultural conditions of community, to integrate those communities into life of the nation and to enable them contribute fully to national process, (Onyeozu, 2007: 21)

 

Summarily, it is a movement, method and process. CD is a veritable tool for national development, because of the qualitative shift in nation entrepreneurship (agricultural production and allied industries) and innovations, with the aim of providing more conducive participatory environment to occupational environment to occupational agriculture that will assist in mobilizing national resources and maximum national output to the nations Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The neglect of government agencies to Community Development (CD) agenda has adversely affected the transformation policies that will lead to agricultural productivity and food security, especially in Nigeria. This is because genuine development is dependent on transformation of material, human and natural resources of the immediate environment to goods and services through the application of skills and labour power.

It is therefore very necessary to say that any nation or country of the world that fails to develop her communities through skills and productive talents of her people like farmers, for positive transformation agenda of the national economy, would distant her empire from growth and development, because Community Development (CD) is purely centered on spirit of self-reliance ad self-sufficiency of the individuals, especially those in the rural areas. Community Development (CD) area based on a value premise which believes in Empowerment, participation, communication, sustainability, poverty alleviation maintenance of national resources (i.e. ecological soundness and respect for humanity and nature). It is based on this premise that Osuji, cited in (Oyabamiji and Adekola 2008: 12), observed that:

A significant proportion of opinion contents that the people are the formation of national development, while the government can definite, energize and create conductive policy and programme environment for nation building and development. The people are the real foundation builders and transformation of the society, with their creative energy and labour, the people constitute the real engine for the social, economic, political and cultural development in a nation.

 

Conclusions

          it is the belief that agricultural productivity in Nigeria has a good prospect to food security for community development, if only the government and programme managers adopts and implement fully the content/objectives of the current programmes and policies of food security outline. In practical terms this can only be achieved by removing all the bureaucratic bottlenecks that arise as a result of funding, monitoring, evaluating and re-education of rural farmers on the need to improve their capacity of agriculture production, bearing in mind the increasing and rising cases of population growth globally. Also, bearing in mind that huge amount of money is invested by the government and donor agencies, the essence of investing in agriculture is to realize maximum value from every naira and kobo invested for nation building inform of food supply.

In strong terms, it is believed that enhanced agricultural activities through improve high yield will result to food security improved income level, good communication and mobilization, self-help, sustainability, provide social infrastructures, participation in decision making, empowerment, reduce poverty level of the rural farmers are the tools or indicators that bring about community development and a means to an end of food crises or scarcity in Nigeria, if only those at the upper echelon of power abide by improving their political will. This goes a long way to say that there is a synergy that exist between agriculture and food security for community development.

 

 

Recommendations

Based on the challenges outlined, this paper suggest that for good transformation in agriculture, food security to be achieved, it is very necessary for integration of community development process into the national development agenda as to enhance socio-economic growth that has been set out in the programmes and policies of agriculture.

The activities of the Agricultural development programmes (ADP) should be strengthened, by way of motivation and proper funding to ensure proper monitoring and evaluation. The rural (real farmers ) should be encourage to participate in decision issues ad policies affecting agricultural productivity.

Rural farmers should be funded directly and adequately through the fund made available by the Donor agencies. More farming centres should be created in NYSC camps farms and strengthen prisons farm. There is also the need to involve church groups and schools. Social infrastructure like electricity should be providing as to attract rural industrialization. Land availability to farmer’s school leavers and graduates.

Food wastage in our homes, festivals, ceremonies should be curtailed. Food wasted should be recycled as livestock feeds another useful purpose which will assist in reducing consumption rate competition with man. Government officers at high cadre, political appointees should be made to attend intensive training or short course on good governance and management of public funds. Technology issues will be resolved through building local capacity and thereby develop and raise local content for the development of Agriculture by use and maintenance of our indigenous technology.

 

References

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Lawson, M.I. (2008). Gender/Youth in Agriculture. A paper presented at the  Training of Facilitators for farmers field schools (FFS) Extension approach.    Rivers State, Nigeria.

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