Nigeria’s Food Security
Ensuring adequate food supply for all Nigerians
Despite its considerable arable land resources, Nigeria is a net importer of food. The country spends more than USD3 billion annually on bringing in food, even though at one point, agriculture was the nation’s greatest source of foreign exchange. Most agriculture is carried out by small farmers, and processing and storage facilities are limited, restricting the country’s ability to withstand a food emergency. But matters have improved over the course of the decade, and the government and other stakeholders are working on programmes to guarantee the nation’s food security for the coming years.
Government Programmes for Food Security
Former President Yar’Adua made Food Security one of the items in his Seven Point Agenda for government, and the current administration also considers ensuring food security to be a high priority. In September 2008, the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Water Resources launched a new National Food Security Programme to bring about sustainable access to affordable and high-quality food for all Nigerians. The government set aside USD1.3 billion for the programme, with the short-term objective of raising agricultural productivity by shifting from traditional subsistence farming to commercialised agriculture. In the medium to long term, the government hopes to expand capacity in the sector, improve storage and processing facilities and create a more efficient regional infrastructure, with the intent of in the future obtaining more than half of Nigeria’s foreign exchange from agriculture.
The National Food Reserve Agency (NRFA), a parastatal of the Ministry of Agriculture, was established in 2007 to oversee Nigeria’s food security strategy. The agency has regional offices in each of the country’s six geo-political zones. It aims to store 5% of national food output to ensure supply in the event of a food crisis. It oversees the National Programme for Food Security, promotes the involvement of the private sector in agriculture and facilitates farmers’ access to agricultural machinery and feedstock.