FOOD SECURITY AND POVERTY STATUS AMONG MAIZE FARMERS IN KARU L.G.A NASARAWA STATE
1.1. BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
The idea of food security emerged between 1972 and 1974 during a global food crisis with the initial focus on national and global food availability. The focus later shifted to individual and household units of analyses in the 1980s (Maxwell and Frankenberger, 2015; Clay, 2011; Mequanent, 2014). Food security occurs when all people, at all times, have physical, social and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life (FAO, 2010).
Despite the persistent decline in global hunger, about 795 million people are chronically hungry and cannot lead a healthy active life (FAO/IFAD/WFP, 2014). Food security has been defined as “access by all people at all times to safe and nutritious food needed to maintain a healthy and active life” (FAO 2010).
Food security is thus people-oriented and implies a situation in which all households have both physical and economic access to adequate food for all members and where households are not at risk of losing such access (A-shami 2011).
If food security is attained, the result according to Talabi (2011), will be a contented, patriotic, and more productive populace and, therefore, an ideal environment in which to thrive. Mustafa (2011) viewed food security as a major element in national security alongside domestic law and order as well as territorial defense and other forms of security.
Furthermore, according to the checklist of fundamental human rights, the right or easy access to food means more to households who are food insecure than the right to basic education, participation in political and social life, and so on. Relating food security to the security of the State, Omole (2011) indicated that food is not an ordinary commodity, but a powerful instrument of State policy that can be employed to punish enemy and recalcitrant nations, reward friendly States, and influence the political and economic decisions of nations.
According to Beer (2016), food is an instrument of power and hence Government must be concerned with how to increase its availability. If there is a shortage of food, then the power of the State becomes weak. The level of food security is, therefore, one of the indicators of the level of development.
Thus, it is imperative to group the level of world economic development into high, medium, and low-income food-deficit countries (Oyakhilome 2011). Food security can, therefore, be seen to have social, economic, and political implications for any nation. Food insecurity is synonymous with not knowing where your next meal is going to come from (Wilson and Ramphale 2010).
And, according to Olayemi (2015) there is often a strong interrelationship between food insecurity and poverty. The poverty incidence in Nigeria increased from 65.6% in 2011 to 78.3% of the population in 2010 (FOS 2010). Furthermore, the distribution of extreme poverty by occupational category indicates that 67.4% of the poor in Nigeria were in agriculture (FOS 2013).
The rural, traditional, and mostly private agricultural sector is characterized by small-scale, poor, subsistence and semi-subsistence farmers and informal traders. The farmers cultivate small landholdings, which are often less than one hectare in size and in fragmented plots. Cereals have been known to be major foods in achieving food security of any nation. Maize is one of the world’s most important cereals along with wheat and rice.
Maize is currently produced on nearly 100 million hectares in 125 developing countries and is among the three most widely grown crops in 75 of those countries (FAOSTAT, 2010). Although much of the world’s maize production (approximately 78%) is utilized for animal feed, human consumption in many developing and developed countries is steadily increasing.
Maize has now risen to a commercial crop on which many agro-based industries depend on as raw materials (Iken and Amusa, 2010). Maize is a major important cereal crop being cultivated in the rainforest and the savannah agroecological zones of Nigeria and it has been in the diet of Nigerians for centuries. It is one of the important grains in Nigeria, not only on the basis of the number of farmers that are engaged in its cultivation, but also on its economic value (Ogunlade et al., 2010; Olaniyi and Adewale, 2012).
Introduced in Nigeria in the 16th century, maize is the fourth most consumed cereal during the past two decades, below sorghum, millet and rice (FAOSTAT 2012). Being among the primary food staples, maize consumption is widespread across the country and among households of different wealth. Following a peak in 2016 (35 Kg/year), per capita consumption of maize in Nigeria underwent an overall decrease throughout the 1990s, reaching a negative peak in 2015 (17 Kg/year) with a positive growth rate between 2014 and 2007 (aside from 2006, when the per capita consumption declined by 0.4 percent) (FAOSTAT 2012).
Despite the economic importance of maize to the teeming populace in Nigeria, it has not been produced to meet food and industrial needs of the country (Onuk et al., 2010). The demand for maize sometimes outstrips supply as a result of the various domestic uses (Akande, 2016) and this has negative consequences for household food security.
IITA estimates that approximately 60 percent of maize produced in the country is used for industrial end uses for both for human (flour, beer, malt drinks, cornflakes, starch, dextrose, syrup) and animal consumption, mainly poultry (UNIDO 2010). In Nigeria, rural poverty levels are relatively high. For example, a national poverty survey carried out in 2010 and 2010 indicates that the urban areas have poverty levels estimated at 43.2% while the rural areas have poverty levels that are as high as 63.8% (NBS, 2006).
Poverty is a plague afflicting people all over the world and it is considered one of the symptoms or manifestations of underdevelopment (Amao et al., 2013). “Poverty is a situation where people have unreasonably low living standards when compared with others; cannot afford to buy necessities, and experience real deprivation and hardship in everyday life” (McClelland, 2015).
Poverty is the main cause of hunger and malnutrition, which are aggravated by rapid population growth, policy inadequacies and inconsistencies or weak administrative capabilities, unhealthy food storage and processing techniques (Sanni, 2015).
Poverty in rural communities is related to poor physical facilities, food insecurity, obsolete agricultural practices, poor nutritional value, little access to savings and credit, general inability to educate children due to high cost, irregular water supply and electricity as well as the inability to cloth oneself (Amao et al., 2013). This study therefore investigated the food security and poverty status of maize farmers of Karu L.G.A Nasarawa state, Nigeria.
1.2 STATEMENT OF PROBLEM
Food security is a fundamental issue in Nigeria just like in many other developing countries, as each country is charged with the task of feeding its people at all times irrespective of unfavorable weather conditions. This makes food security one of the major aspects of agricultural policy in the country. Food security is closely tied to poverty, as food insecure populations are also the poor, living as they do on less than 1 US dollars a day.
This study recognizes the close link between household food security and poverty, particularly among small-scale agriculturalists, which are normally, associated with food security problems due to unfavorable weather patterns, lack of capital and labor, diminishing agricultural lands, and low agricultural productivity, among others.
In order to address these issues, this study concentrates on four major factors: the climatic, socioeconomic and demographic and health factors that influence food security in Karu L.G.A. These four factors impact negatively on food security and should be addressed through relevant policies to improve household food security situation and eradicate poverty. Socioeconomic measurements and food security and poverty status analyses were carried out to help support and explain the various baseline indicators.
These provide information on the capabilities and constraints under which farmers, their spouses, and other family members operated to achieve the goal of improved household welfare. The study will provide the basis to present food insecurity crises and poverty status of maize farmers in karu L.G.A, Nasarawa state.
- AIMS AND OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The major aim of the study is to examine food security and poverty status among maize farmers. Other specific objectives of the study include;
- To examine the levels and major determinants of food security and poverty among maize farmers in Karu L.G.A, Nasarawa State
- To examine the significance of household poverty as an important aspect of food security among the maize farmers
- To examine the impact of food security on the poverty status of maize farmers in Karu L.G.A, Nasarawa state
- To identify the effective coping strategies employed by the maize farmers in cushioning the effects of food insecurity
- To examine the relationship between food security and poverty status of maize farmers in Karu L.G.A, Nasarawa state
- To examine the socio-economic factors that influence household food security, in Karu L.G.A, Nasarawa state
- RESEARCH QUESTIONS
- What are the levels and major determinants of food security and poverty among maize farmers in Karu L.G.A, Nasarawa State?
- What is the significance of household poverty as an important aspect of food security among the maize farmers?
- What is the impact of food security on the poverty status of maize farmers in Karu L.G.A, Nasarawa state?
- What are the effective coping strategies employed by the maize farmers in cushioning the effects of food insecurity in Karu L.G.A, Nasarawa state?
- What is the relationship between food security and poverty status of maize farmers in Karu L.G.A, Nasarawa state?
- What are the socio-economic factors that influence household food security, in Karu L.G.A, Nasarawa state?
1.5 RESEARCH HYPOTHESES
H0: There is no significant impact of food security on the poverty status of maize farmers in Karu L.G.A, Nasarawa state.
H1: There is a significant impact of food security on the poverty status of maize farmers in Karu L.G.A, Nasarawa state.
H0: There is no significant relationship between food security and poverty status of maize farmers in Karu L.G.A, Nasarawa state.
H1: There is a significant relationship between food security and poverty status of maize farmers in Karu L.G.A, Nasarawa state
1.6 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
The study would be of benefit towards providing relevant information to farmers and rural households in Nigeria. This would be of immense benefit to the farmers who are resource constrained and lack adequate information on the right production system to adopt in other to optimize profit.
To achieve poverty reduction, it became necessary to empirically measure the poverty status and examine the determinants of poverty among the farming households. The study would also be of immense benefit to students, researchers and scholars who are interested in developing further studies on the subject matter.
- SCOPE AND LIMITATION OF THE STUDY
The study is restricted to food security and poverty status among maize farmers in Karu L.G.A, Nasarawa state.
- LIMITATION OF THE STUDY
Financial constraint: Insufficient fund tends to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire and interview)
Time constraint: The researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. This consequently will cut down on the time devoted for the research work.
- DEFINITION OF TERMS
Disaster – is a serious disruption of subsistence and normal functioning of a population causing widespread human, material or environmental losses, to such an extent that the affected society cannot subsist without outside intervention.
Drought – refers to a rainfall-induced shortage of some economic good brought about by inadequate or badly distributed rainfall. Famine – refers to a period with acute shortage of food.
Food security – refers to access by all people at all times to enough food for an active and healthy life (World Bank, 1988a). A new definition of food security is provided at the end of this study. Households are considered food insecure if they cannot meet 100 percent of food requirements through food production, food purchased and food-for work. Food production in this case refers to the amount of food in terms of cereals, produced within a household in order to attain food security.
Gross Domestic Product (GDP) – is the size of a nation’s economy and it is measured annually (the value of all, final goods and services produced within the borders of a country). On the same note, Gross National Product (GNP) combines the GDP with net income from abroad (WRI, et al, 2011). Purchasing Power Parity, on the other hand, refers to how much of a common market basket of goods and services each currency, can purchase locally.
The researcher would like to state that since alternative indices for measuring development in space and time are still lacking, in some parts of the thesis, these indices are still used to highlight some serious and relevant development issues. Per capita GDP and GNP, therefore, refer to average measure of resident’s wellbeing.
Small-scale/Smallholder farmer – is a farmer whose access to agricultural land ranges between 0.2 and 12 hectares as defined by the Central Bureau of Statistics and the two definitions are assumed to have the same meaning in this thesis. A new group of small scale farmers has been identified in this research.
Hazard – is a potentially threatening event, natural hazards include extreme events like drought, floods, epidemics and pests (DMCN-UNEP, 2010).
Household – is a unit of production, consumption and socialization feeding from family pot (Piwoz, 1985). Household food production or food crop production is the total number of bags or Kilograms of cereals produced annually by a household, while
Household labour – refers to number of family members in full-time farm work. The Household size, on the other hand, refers to number of household/family members who are present in the household at least 50 percent in a year, under one household head and dependent on one piece of land.
Poverty – The “poor” are the members of society who are unable to afford basic minimum needs of food, clothing, health, shelter and education. The overall poverty line for rural areas is Ksh. 1239 and Ksh. 2648 for urban areas (Ministry of Finance and Planning, 2015a and b).
A new definition of poverty has been provided at the end of the thesis, since the definition above lack data on all the relevant household incomes and expenditures are valued at market rates. Further, only a few households studied had access to remittances and off-farm sources of income.
Absolute poverty line is the minimum standard required of an individual to fulfill his or her minimum recommended calorific requirement and basic non-food needs (CBS, 2011).
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