ood, along with clothing and shelter, is one of the most important necessities in the world because it is necessary for human survival. These three elements are commonly referred to be a man’s fundamental necessities. Food security in Africa is under severe threat due to a variety of variables, some of which are natural and others which are man-made, depending on the conditions and countries concerned. A world that is food secure is one in which everyone has access to safe, nutritious, and inexpensive food that allows them to live active and healthy lives.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Food Security is “When all people, at all times, have physical, social, and economic access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious food that fits their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life,”. Nearly one billion people are malnourished, hungry, and calorie-deficient on a daily basis (PAI, 2015). Food security affects more than human health and welfare; it also contributes to economic and political stability. It has long been observed that most countries in the world with political instability are always associated with food-insecure territories; food insecurity in such countries may have been caused by political instability. One often leads to the other, but in the impacted areas, they are inextricably linked. There are three dimensions to food security: food availability, food access, and food sufficiency.
Food insecurity occurs when people do not have enough safe, nutritious, and socially acceptable food to live a healthy and productive life on a long-term basis. Food insecurity can be long-term, seasonal, or transient. Food instability and malnutrition cause a great deal of hardship among people. According to the World Health Organization, persistent hunger and malnutrition are responsible for almost 60% of all childhood fatalities in underdeveloped countries. Malnutrition leaves children weak, susceptible, and less able to battle common childhood illnesses such as diarrhea, acute respiratory infections, malaria, and measles in impoverished nations.
Food Insecurity: What Are the Root Causes?
Food insecurity in Africa has various reasons. This presentation will focus on Nigeria, as described above, where it was determined that food insecurity has been on the rise in the country since 2009, and will serve as a model for other African countries because African countries face comparable difficulties of varying magnitudes. The following are a few of the most well-known and common causes:
Political Uncertainty and War:
The insurgency has recently become Nigeria’s most serious threat to food security. Nigeria, like many other countries throughout the world, is undergoing one of its most difficult periods since gaining independence from the United Kingdom in 1960. The North East, one of Nigeria’s six geopolitical zones, is currently under siege by insurgents. The North East provides not only staple foods such as grains, wheat, and other grains, but also a higher percentage of dairy products and animal protein in the form of meat. Agricultural activities in the affected areas have been disrupted, as well as enterprises worth millions of dollars. As a result, the area’s food security, as well as that of nearly the entire country, is jeopardized, leading to an increase in the price of food items throughout Nigeria. More than a million people have been internally and externally displaced, with over 10,000 deaths. The surviving inhabitants in the impacted areas are unable to continue their farming activities, resulting in a shift in the country’s agricultural value chain and a fall in food output. The issues began in 2009 and became very serious in 2014.
Increased rural-urban mobility as a result of urbanization, like in other parts of the world, is a major factor in Nigeria’s developing food insecurity. According to the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), cities will house 70% of the world’s population by 2050. This will interrupt agricultural productivity, increasing food insecurity.
Exponential growth of the population:
Food insecurity in Nigeria is caused by another factor. Nigeria is currently the world’s sixth most populated country, with a population of over 178 million people and a 3 percent yearly growth rate. As in other parts of the world, this has raised the demand for food goods.
There has been no commensurate growth in agricultural production with this dramatic increase in population. Nigeria will overtake America as the world’s third most populous country by 2050, according to the United Nations (The Guardian, June 13, 2013).
Underdevelopment of the agricultural sector:
Poor agricultural sector development is another issue that poses a serious danger to Nigeria’s and Africa’s food security. The majority of African countries, including Nigeria, need long-term agricultural policies that will improve food security. This is because Nigeria, like the bulk of African countries, has had unstable leadership until recently, resulting in policy reversals. Nigeria, for example, did not have stable political leadership until 1999, when the country reverted to full democracy without the use of military force. This has resulted in policy inconsistencies that could have put the country on a more stable path, ensuring an uninterrupted food supply. On the contrary, successive governments have pursued various agricultural policies that have resulted in the cancellation of existing ones, even when the existing ones have proven to be successful and long-term. Some government measures obstruct markets, create trade barriers, and deprive farmers of price signals. Export restrictions and trade bans isolate local markets and provide farmers with little incentive to increase production for the following season, restricting the potential supply response to rising prices.
Changes in climate caused by global warming:
Another factor for Africa’s food shortage is climate change. It has altered the pattern of productivity. Rain and water are less predictable now than they were previously. Rain arrives either too late or too early, or only for a brief time. Farmers are perplexed as to when they should plant their grains and other veggies. The rain arrives too early some years, and as they plant the grains, the rain stops, causing the grains to rot beneath the ground.
Food Insecurity’s Consequences/Effects
Children in underdeveloped nations are weak, susceptible, and less able to battle common childhood ailments such as diarrhea, acute respiratory infections, malaria, and measles because of continuous malnutrition.
Food insecurity and malnutrition have negative effects on adolescents and adults as well.
Reduced energy levels, delayed maturation, growth failure, impaired cognitive ability, limited learning capacity, decreased ability to resist infections and diseases, shortened life expectancy, increased maternal mortality, and low birth weight can all be symptoms of malnutrition.
Food insecurity can lead to political unrest, as well as emotions of alienation, impotence, stress, and anxiety, as well as lower productivity, work and school performance, and money earnings. An obsession with obtaining food may disturb household dynamics, leading to wrath, pessimism, and annoyance, among other vices.
Suggestions for Resolving Food Insecurity Issues
Researchers and other stakeholders have worked tirelessly to find a solution to Africa’s continuing food problem, which includes Nigeria. To alleviate the effects of food insecurity on the population, governments should take proactive measures to safeguard their people from starvation, as we are seeing in some African nations, notably Nigeria. To achieve this, this article will recommend the following, among other things, among the several strategies to reduce the prevalence of food insecurity in Nigeria and other African countries:
Consistent Policy Framework:
To begin with, the leaders must carefully stick to a distinctive agriculture strategy that will be subjected to periodic assessment by experts concerned, rather than the current policy somersault that we are witnessing. Once this is accomplished, succeeding governments will be able to pursue food security with the zeal that is required.
Roads, portable water, electricity, and other social amenities should be provided to rural dwellers to prevent or reduce rural-urban migration. This will ensure that there is adequate labour for agricultural activities in rural areas, thereby increasing food productivity, which will not only ensure food security but will also provide employment opportunities to the growing population, thereby reducing the pressure on the environment. The government should also encourage mechanized farming as a means of reducing food insecurity, as agriculture is now a serious business enterprise all over the world, and the world has moved beyond the era of subsistence farming, where agriculture was seen as a means of feeding the immediate family with little or no income drive. Modern agriculture not only feeds the family, but also the world, providing millions of jobs and a reliable source of income for farmers as well as a source of foreign cash for many countries.
Controlling Population Explosion:
Similar to other African countries where poverty is rampant, population is largely uncontrolled because methods of combating this threat, such as contraceptives, are still unpopular, particularly in rural areas, resulting in population surges and undue competition for insufficient food. Governments and other development partners such as the World Bank, UNICEF, FAO, WFP, and others should join forces with the government to help educate people about birth control so that food security can be guaranteed.
Storage facilities availability:
To avoid the waste that usually occurs during harvest season in Nigeria, the government should do everything possible to ensure that adequate processing and storage facilities for agricultural products are available throughout the year, ensuring all-year food security and, as a result, increasing farmers’ income levels and reducing poverty, which is the Nigerian government’s ultimate goal. The current scenario in Nigeria is so concerning that the vast majority of harvested products rot during the farming season, while the government spends massive sums of money offsetting import expenses for the same commodities during the off-season.
Trade Barriers Should Be Removed:
To ensure the free flow of food commodities across African borders, trade barriers should be removed. Though there are a number of existing trade agreements with other African countries, particularly in Western Africa, enforcement has been a major issue. If these trade accords are completely implemented, food insecurity in Nigeria and other African countries will be reduced.
Food insecurity must be viewed as a security threat not only to the country but also to the continent as a whole, prompting each country to devise means to combat the threat head-on, avoiding the negative consequences that often accompany food insecurity in countries that have previously experienced unrest. If the situation is taken seriously and the recommendations of various policymakers are implemented, the continent will be self-sufficient in terms of food security.