In Nigeria, the population as of 2012 stood at 166.2 million according to the Nigeria National Bureau of Statistics (Adebayo, 2012). This number has increased, and the estimated population as of 2019 is slightly over 200 million people. These figures indicate that Nigeria is amongst the fastest growing, developing country in terms of population. On the contrary, the rate of food production increases at a rate lower than the population growth rate. A recent study by the UN ranked Nigeria among the top ten developing countries facing serious food insecurity. The rising population growth is attributed to many factors, including lack of financial incentives for farmers to produce more food, low mortality rate, lack of birth control measures, and religious beliefs (Clover, J. (2003). Informed by these findings, my analysis as a UN consultant is based on Nigeria. Informed by these findings, I have based my analysis on Nigeria. Being a consultant, I have subdivided the analysis into three comprehensive sections. The first section provides background information about food security and highlights the role that population plays in food security. The second part addresses the technologies that must be applied to minimize hunger and improve food security, while the last part outlines the specific factors applicable to Nigeria. Some of the measures that the Nigerian government should take to address food insecurity amid the rising population, including but not limited to controlling the population through birth controls. The government should also consider increasing budgetary allocation to the agricultural sector and establish price controls on food items (Adebayo, 2012). Additionally, drastic measures should be put in place against individuals found guilty of hoarding food commodities and those engaging in foodstuff smuggling activities.
The concept of food security first originated in the mid-1970s during a world food conference addressing the global food crisis. Many definitions have since been put forward, for example; the United Nations defines food security as a means through which all people have physical, social, economic access to safe, sufficient, and nutritious food all times to address their food and dietary needs (Adebayo, 2012). The World Health Organization (WHO) established three perspectives about food security that include food availability, food accessibility and food use. From the many definitions of food security; the main focus is the availability of food sufficient at the household level and for the society at large. Attaining food security requires a mix of sufficient food quantities, adequate income for all to have the purchasing power, and nutrition knowledge.
There is a close link between the availability of food and population dynamics. According to Malthus population theory, the global population grows at a geometric rate, the food production capacity and rate grow arithmetically (Ewugi & Yakubu, 2012). In the absence of controls on the population growth, the increasing individuals will have to share the scare food resources among themselves. Although such controls to reduce the pressure of population growth exists, governments in most developing countries have been hesitant to implement them. The preventive controls might be voluntary or compulsory limitations of population growth. To effectively manage food security, governments must investigate and address the reasons behind high population growth rates.
Malthus theory of population was not significant in Western economies because things did not turn to his expectations. However, in most African countries, such as Nigeria, his predictions became a reality. Although the rate of population growth has not been geometric in Nigeria as postulated by Malthus, it has been terrific (Abdulrahaman, 2013). The vices as envisaged in Malthus theory of population have manifested themselves in Nigeria, including internal conflicts and political instabilities that have claimed the lives of thousands of civilians. Food production falls short of the population’s need for food, which has resulted in the importation of food commodities. Excessive importation is not only detrimental to the country’s balance of payments but also hampers the growth of the infant industries and the agricultural sector at large. It also affects the farmers as there is simply no incentive to produce more in the long run. Thus, if the population is unchecked, it results in many other vices that only increase food insecurity in the country like Nigeria.
Technologies that Can Reduce Hunger and Improve Food Security
With the rising food insecurity in Nigeria, farmers must turn to new technologies to improve the food security and marketability of their farm produce. These technologies involve using social media platforms to stay in touch with other farmers in the sector and collaborating with companies that provide remote sensing, drone technologies, and beyond. One technology that should be considered by the Nigerian government is the aeroponics farming that works through suspending the roots of a crop in the air in a controlled environment (Tester, 2010). This kind of farming has plenty of benefits since it requires a little amount of water, labor, and electricity. It controls pests and crops take a short time to harvest. This method has been tested and proven on over 200 crop varieties, including rice, tomatoes, and onions. By ensuring that food is produced at any time of the year, this method results in higher productivity. By encouraging farmers to apply this technology through subsidies, the government can improve food supply exponentially.
Encouraging value addition companies to set up industries in Nigeria will increase farmers’ access to the market, reduce wastage, and eventually improve food security. Besides buying the farmers’ produce, these companies solve challenges such as storage, market access, and other logistics (Tester, 2010). Perishable foodstuff processing companies, for example, provide transportation services to farmers and prevent farm produce from going bad. Since these companies use temperature-regulated containers for transporting perishable goods, they address the issue of food wastage.
Agricultural biotechnology has also been reported to increase food production and food security, respectively. Although some genetically modified foods have been linked with safety issues, agricultural biotechnology has many success stories due to its potential to reduce global food insecurity significantly. Crop diversification and rotation is an emerging practice that improves the production and the quality of yields (Tester, 2010). Since this technique improves the level of nutrients in the soil, it significantly controls diseases and pests. The Nigerian agricultural sector should educate farmers on how to apply crop rotation and diversification to combat food insecurity in the long run.
Specific Factors that Interrupt Food Supply in Nigeria
Chief among the factors that affect the flow of food from the source to the people in Nigeria is the internal conflicts. Since the Boko Haram attacks started in 2009, thousands of people have been killed and thousands of households from North-Eastern part of Nigeria being displaced (Adebayo, 2012). The conflict has greatly contributed to the reduced levels of food productions as well as the flow of food within the affected areas. Given that vegetables, cereals, and other crops were traditionally produced in the North-Eastern region, the harmful nature of the conflicts have hindered the farming activities of these crops and hampered the transportation activities along the conflict-prone regions. As a result, the increasing food prices of vegetables and cereals without an equivalent increase in income only increases the food security crisis in Nigeria.
The underdeveloped markets for agricultural foodstuff in Nigeria is another disrupting factor that affects the flow of food from the farmers to the consumers. The unavailability of food market infrastructures, such as storage facilities and roads in Nigeria poses a great challenge to storage and transportation of farm produce from the producers to the consumers. Thousands of farmlands lack functional roads that can make transportation of foodstuff from the farms to the market (Adebayo, 2012). As a result, most farm produce gets bad in transit and eventually do not get into the market. Even the existing markets in Nigeria are either incomplete or disintegrated. The storage facilities for preserving raw agricultural foodstuff before they can be transported to the market are inadequate so, approximately 35% of the farm produce go into waste due to inadequate or lack of preservation (Adebayo, 2012). It is estimated that Nigeria loses farm produce to the tune of $9 billion annually due to poor preservation methods. As a result, post-harvest loss mitigation is gaining more appeal among policymakers in the agricultural sector in the recent past in Nigeria.
Lack of proper agricultural financing mechanisms hampers the enterprising programs within the agricultural value chains. Having a safe, accessible, and affordable food commodities require a clear roadmap that effectively promotes the development of the agricultural value chain (Adetiloye, 2012). Nigeria lags behind in terms of developing programs that allow the growth of agricultural-based industries focusing on packaging, storage, processing, and marketing of agricultural food commodities. Financing of such firms in Nigeria is left in the hands of banks that often view agricultural-based ventures as risky and less attractive. Financial institutions, on the other hand, prefer giving loans to high-risk ventures that promise high-reward. Due to high cases of default, the Central Bank of Nigeria, through the Anchor Borrowers program has been forced to reduce the volume of loans to small scale farmers. Empirically, an increase in agricultural financing will spur economic growth in the agricultural sector as farmers will have money to spend on farm inputs and fertilizers. Thus, insufficient agricultural financing or lack of it is a stumbling block to the development of the agricultural sector and the supply systems of food commodities at large.
Applying technological innovations in the agricultural sector and ensuring a more equitable distribution of food across Nigeria would reduce the rate of food insecurity. However, the greatest solution lies in controlling the population expulsion. The Nigerian government seems to have given fundamental issues such as population growth little attention over the last few decades resulting in food insecurities. More budgetary allocations need to be channeled to the agricultural sector going forward to enable it to conduct more research on ways to improve food security in the long run.
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Adetiloye, K.A. (2012).Agricultural financing in Nigeria: An assessment of the Agricultural Credit Guarantee Scheme and Food Security in Nigeria. Journal of International Economic Review, 3(1):39-48
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Ewugi, M. S., & Yakubu, I. (2012). Malthusian Population theory and the Nigerian Economy: A Political Economy Approach. International Journal of Human Resource Studies, 2(4), 197.
Tester, M. (2010). Breeding technologies to increase crop production in a changing world. Science, 327(5967), 818-822.