Food Security in Nigeria: Can Community Based Advisors pave a way? (1), by Professor MK Othman

Food Gist > Blog > Food Gist > Food Security in Nigeria: Can Community Based Advisors pave a way? (1), by Professor MK Othman

BreakThrough

At the risk of bugging my readers with
the demographic analysis of population in Nigeria, which I have discussed
several times in the past, I still have to discuss it for emphasis. Food
security cannot be discussed without discussing the number of people needing
such security, their current level of food security and their potential to
attain food security need through analysis.

Today, Nigeria has over 200 million people from a mere population of 37,860,000 in 1950, which overshot to 159,708,000, equivalent to 422 percent in 2010, became 186,988,000 in 2015 and bypassed 200,000,000 people this year (2019).

The Nigerian demographic rate expands at
alarming rate of 850 babies per hour with an average death rate of 280 people
per hour giving a population increase of 570 people per hour that is 13,491
people per day and 4.92 million people per year. This statistics indicates that
a child is born in every 4 seconds in Nigeria while one person dies at every 13
seconds with an addition increase of one person in every six seconds.

At this rate, Nigerian population will
be 262,977,337 by the year 2030 and 401,315,000 by 2040, which will make it the
third most populous country in the world after India and China. In 1950,
Nigeria was the thirteenth most populous country in the world but today,
Nigeria holds the seventh position in the world population raking. Nigerian
population accounts for 2.7 percent of the World with a total of 195 countries.
Furthermore, the population amounts to 16 percent of the African population
with 58 countries. It seems the only two countries Nigeria cannot beat on
population ranking are China and India.

Naturally, the population explosion in
Nigeria came with catalogue of challenges such as increase in crime rate,
poverty rate, hunger and other social vices. Among these challenges, the most
disturbing is food insecurity with her twin sister: extreme poverty.

Readers may recall of my article in this Column last year titled “World Food Day: Goalkeepers’ Report and Food Security in Nigeria” () or World Food Day: Gate Keepers Report and Food Security in Nigeria, Professor MK Othman. In the article, I quoted Goalkeepers (Bill and Melinda Gates) report presented in October 2018. The report provides a rather gloomy picture on Nigeria’s stride against poverty. “Nigeria will have 152 million people in extreme poverty out of a projected population of over 400 million by the year 2050”, the report further indicated “going by this figure, it means that Nigeria will represent about 36% of the total number of people in “extreme poverty” Worldwide”.

Again, the report revealed that,
“Extreme poverty is becoming heavily concentrated in sub-Saharan African
countries. By 2050, that’s where 86 per cent of the extremely poor people in
the world are projected to live. The challenge is that within Africa, poverty
is concentrating in just a handful of very fast-growing countries, more than 40
per cent of the extremely poor people in the world will live in just two
countries: Democratic Republic of Congo and Nigeria. Even within these
countries, poverty is still concentrating in certain areas”.

Poverty in these areas is rooted in
violence, political instability, gender inequality, severe climate change, and
other deep-seated social crises. Poverty is also to high rates of child
mortality and malnutrition. As a result, poorest people have significantly
fewer opportunities to get out of poverty than most of the billion of people
who escaped poverty. So, the system makes poor to be poorer until a concerted
effort is designed to take people out of poverty. Hardly people get themselves
out of poverty.

The current heinous crimes of
kidnapping, armed robbery, banditry and insurgency have strong correlation and
permutation with the high level of poverty in the country. It is therefore important
that all hands have to be on deck to prevent Nigeria attaining the position of
“Headquarters of the extreme poverty” in the year 2050 as prophesized by the
Goalkeepers.

What is extreme poverty? “Extreme
poverty” refers to people living below the international poverty line of
$1.90/day, equivalent to N674 a day in 2011 prices, equivalent to $2.07 (N735 a
day in 2017 prices as set by the World Bank.

Surprisingly, Nigeria has all it takes to be a great nation as extensively discussed in my article last month “Nigeria, Creativity in Nigerians and the Missing Link” () or Nigeria and Nigerians’ Creativity – the Missing Link (I), by Professor MK Othman. In this article, three important issues in the country were presented. The first issue is Nigeria as a nation with her very rich and unquantifiable natural resources in all crannies of the country. The second issue is Nigerians as citizens with their unlimited ingenuity, resourcefulness, capacity and making waves in all nooks and corners of the seven continents of the World. The third issue is the missing link that is supposed to connect the country with these special breeds of Nigerians to transform the country into a true giant of Africa and acclaim its rightful position of one of the 20 economic colossus of the world among the comity of nations.

Among all the natural resources endowed
to Nigeria, agricultural resources are the most versatile, easy to exploit and
with great potential to transform large population from level of poverty to the
level of prosperity, greatness, economic prominence and prodigious social
stability. Yes, agriculture has a magic wand for unlocking unlimited richness
for all and sundry.

On Agricultural resources, Nigeria has seven distinct climate zones, which provide average annual rainfall ranging from 700 mm in the far north (Sahel Savannah) to 4,000 mm in riverine and mountainous areas in the south. Rainfall provides billions liters of water annually in addition to several other billions liters of water from River Niger.

The river passes through the country and
drains an average discharge of 5,589 m3/s into the Atlantic Ocean.
River Niger with a length of 4,180 Km and drainage basin area of 2.1 million Km2
is the third largest river in Africa after River Nile and River Zaire.  River Niger has six major perennial rivers as
tributaries crisscrossing the length and breadth of Nigeria making it the most
endowed country with unlimited water resources available for all kinds of
agricultural development and even transportation.

With the network of rivers in the
country, it is possible to travel from Maiduguri to Lagos through boat
transportation thereby reducing the pressure on the road network. Only very few
countries in the world have these rare opportunities.

Land resources are similarly in
abundance in Nigeria. The country has 91 million hectares of arable land with
merely 50 % utilization despite the quantum of water resources, soil fertility,
favorable topography and climates.

Despite the resources, agricultural
sector is grossly under performing as manifested in food insecurity,
malnutrition at the household and national levels. Studies have shown that 90
percent of agricultural production in the country is the output of inefficient
methods and very low use of improved agricultural inputs by small-scale
farmers.

For instance, studies conducted by
NAERLS revealed that as at January 2019, average fertilizer use in Nigeria was
18Kg per hectare compared to African average of 48 Kg per hectare, Asia average
of 150 Kg per hectare and the global average of 100 Kg per hectare. Similarly,
mechanization intensity in Nigeria stands at 10 tractors per 100 hectares,
which is lower than African average of 22 tractors per 100 hectares, Asia 64
tractors per 100 hectares. Again, only 5 percent of farmers in Nigeria were
found to be accessible to and can use improved seeds. Thus, 95 percent of
farmers in Nigeria are hardly aware of improved seeds.

The low agricultural productivity in
Nigeria is largely due to absence of agricultural extension services in several
places. In few places where such services exist, they are poorly and untimely
done. Agriculture cannot grow without adequate and well-timed agricultural
extension delivery services along the value chain of the various agricultural commodities
in the country. The absence of agricultural extension services is largely due
to comatose condition of a hitherto vibrant and perfect extension service
structure; the Agricultural Development Program (ADP) in all the 36 states and
FCT.

The structure popularly known as “ADP –
System” is almost completely dead and very difficult to revive; perhaps, the
system has outlived its usage. This is why the need to strategize and innovate
a system that can withstand the test of time cannot be overemphasized. Thus,
the development of an innovation called “community based advisors” as a viable
and sustainable option to the ADP system becomes handy. What is the concept of
community based advisors? How can it be a pathway to food security?

Professor Othman is the Executive
Director of National Agricultural Extension and Research Liaison Services
(NAERLS), ABU Zaria.

The post Food Security in Nigeria: Can Community Based Advisors pave a way? (1), by Professor MK Othman appeared first on Neptune Prime.

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