Analysis Of Food Security Status Of Farm Household In Otukpo Local Government Area Of Benue State, Nigeria

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Analysis Of Food Security Status Of Farm Household In Otukpo Local Government Area Of Benue State, Nigeria (Daniel)


The study analyzed the food security status of farm households in Benue State, Nigeria. Primary data were used for the study and structured questionnaire was used to collect data from farm households. The analytical tools used to achieve the stated objectives are descriptive statistics to analyze the socio-economic characteristics of respondents and crop contributions to farm households‟ food security. The food security index was used to determine food security status of households while logistic regression model was used to examine the determinants of food security among the households surveyed and Kendall‟s coefficient of concordance to describe and rank the coping strategies adopted by farm households. The study found that the mean age of the farmers was 49 years and most of the sampled respondents were males. About 89% were married and 30% of the farmers had no formal education. The mean farming experience in the study area was 19 years. The Z-Statistic result indicated that there was a significant difference between expenditure pattern of food secure and food insecure households. The study showed that about 41% of the respondents were food secured while 59% were food insecure. This study also revealed that 9.2% of the total sampled households were found to be severely food insecure and had both adult and children food intake reduced to an extent that they witnessed severe hunger. The results of the Logistic regression model revealed that age, education, access to production credit, household size, dependency ratio, household farm income and non-farm income were the determinants of food security status of rural farming households in the study area. The months of April and May were the periods in which households experienced severe food shortage. The study indicated that eating less preferred food was the most widely used of all the coping strategies considered in the study area. The Kendall‟s (W) of 0.56 show that there was agreement among 56% of the rankers (respondents)which was significant at 1% as indicated by the p-value of 0.000. Most of the coping strategies used by farming households were moderate in terms of the frequency at which different coping strategies were used to temporarily mitigate the impact of food insecurity. These results have implications for agricultural food policy in developing countries, especially Nigeria, because large chunk of expenditure would go into importation of food in order to reduce the severity of food insecurity and hunger to the barest minimum level and it might be quite unsustainable at the long run especially in the period of recession. The study, therefore, recommended that farm households should be educated on the need to diversify their sources of income from agriculture to off- farm income generating activities. This is to improve food security at the household level.

Chapter One


1.1 Background to the Study

Food security is a concept that has developed considerably over the years. It is a complex issue that characterises the current world economy (Mohapatra et al., 2010:32). The United Nations defines food security as a condition in which all people at all times have access to enough food needed to live an active and healthy life (FAO, 2010:4). Food insecurity includes aspects such as limited access to food intake, hunger and vulnerability (Devereux, 2000:1). Research (FAO, 2010; Richardson, 2010:1) indicates that food insecurity has been increasing throughout the world, and that; hunger and malnutrition remains a serious problem especially in developing countries. The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) (2010:2) reported that in 2010 almost one billion people in the world were undernourished, which is 40% higher than the preceding two decades. Increased incidents of chronic hunger are mainly in developing countries (Goodall, 2009:4).

In Nigeria, agriculture is the most important sector of the economy from the standpoint of rural employment, sufficiency in food and fibre, and export earning prior to the discovery of crude oil (Kehindeet al., 2012). The agricultural sector is still the leading sector in Nigeria’s ailing economy. It provides over 70% of informal sector jobs created in the economy (Central Bank of Nigeria, 2016). The contribution of the agricultural sector to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the first quarters of 2016 is 24.18% (Central Bank of Nigeria, 2016).

Nigeria is facing huge food security challenges now and 67.1% of her population lives below poverty line (National Bureau of Statistics, 2016). Poverty and hunger have remained high in rural areas, remote communities and among female -headed households and these cut across the six geo-political zones, with prevalence ranging from approximately 46.9% in the South-West to 74.3% in North-Central and North-East (United Nations, 2016). In Nigeria, 37% of children under five years old were stunted, 18% wasted, 29% underweight and overall, only 10% of children aged 6-23 months are fed appropriately based on recommended infant and young children feeding practices (United Nations,2016). Nigeria has about 79 million hectares of arable land of which 32 million hectares are cultivated and over 90% of agricultural production is rain-fed (Nwajiuba, 2012). Smallholders, mostly subsistence producers account for 80% of all farm holdings. Both crop and livestock production remains below potentials (Nwajiuba, 2012); although the agricultural growth was 4.03% in the fourth quarter of 2016, this growth lies below the 10% necessary for attaining food security and poverty reduction (National Bureau of Statistics, 2017).

Based on the hierarchy of human needs, food is unquestionably the most vital need considering its centrality to human existence (Obayelu and Obayelu, 2012). The country today is facing incessant worsening food crisis era unnoticed in the last twenty years and with the potential of leading to national food disaster. However, various interventions have been made by the Nigerian government in modernizing agriculture in Nigeria which was previously characterized by sluggish growth, low factor productivity, declining terms of trade, and often linked to practices that degrade the environment (Obayelu and Obayelu, 2012). Since the late 1970s till date,Nigeria have implemented macro-economic policies, sectoral and institutional reforms aimed at ensuring high and sustainable economic growth, food security and poverty reduction. Though, Nigeria have recorded some level of growth in the agricultural sector (National Baureau of Statistics, 2017), however, the sector’s growth remained insufficient to adequately address poverty, attain food security, and lead to sustained Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth. Food security and poverty reduction have been a major campaign issue across all political parties in the country, yet provision of enough food to feed the entire population has eluded many governments because of their inability to meet the agreed Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) target of investment of at least 10% of the National budget on Agriculture.

In Nigeria, concerns regarding food security and its related issues are vital for poverty reduction. Attainment of food security is core problem confronting farming households; especially women and rural populations due to low productivity in staple crop production, seasonal variability in food supply as well as price fluctuations. These problems facing farming households come about as a result of over-reliance on rain-fed agriculture, inadequate or inappropriate usage of chemical inputs as well as inadequate improved varieties of crops and animal species (Victoria and Benjamin, 2012). Food security of farming households is of serious concern if Nigeria wants to come out of her present economic recession. Tragically, farmers who are vulnerable to food and nutritional insecurity have limited capacity to respond to agricultural programmes (Victoria and Benjamin, 2012). Nevertheless, the production of staple foods in rural areas is seen as a coping mechanism in situations of severe food insecurity and is geared towards household consumption in most part of Benue State. In rural areas, families have access to a small plot of land to engage in small-scale food production for their own consumption and to increase the family income. Hence, the study would analyse food security status of farm households in Benue State North-Central, Nigeria.

1.2 Problem Statement

Nigeria’s overall performance in terms of agricultural production and productivity remains inadequate and has failed to make significant progress in the food security front. The issue of food security therefore is a major concern in Nigeria. This is particularly more among the rural farmers who have the highest prevalence of under nutrition (Victoria and Benjamin, 2012). They also estimated that about 66% of Nigeria’s population lives below poverty line as portrayed by their level of food security. Moreover, the country is characterized by high reliance on food imports as malnutrition is widespread and rural areas are especially vulnerable to chronic food shortages, malnutrition, unbalanced nutrition, erratic food supply, poor food quality, high food cost, and even total lack of food despite the country’s vast potential food production capacity (Victoria and Benjamin, 2012). The connections among dwindling food production capacity, rising food prices and dependency on food importation and the consequence of food insecurity are nowhere more clearly demonstrated in recent times than in the sahelian food crisis, which affected many of the northern states of Nigeria (Ojeleye et al., 2022). The issue of food security therefore is a concern in Nigeria and calls for continuous attention and strategy.

Food insecurity and malnutrition also have profound implication for health and development, and present major obstacles to attaining the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG‟s). In Nigeria, understanding smallholder farmers– how much they earn, what they eat, as well as broader question about the role food security plays in livelihood outcomes is crucial to designing sustainable strategies to reduce hunger, poverty, and illness. In Nigeria, a Global Food Security Index (GFSI) rank of 91st among 109 countries in 2022, together with rising food prices, malnutrition and deaths as a result of wide-spread poverty is an indication of the prevalence of food insecurity in the county. It is also a sign of extreme suffering for millions of poor people as described by Global Hunger Index Report of 2022.
In the midst of this challenging and disturbing statistics, the population of Nigeria is growing at the rate of 3.2 percent yet agricultural growth is sluggish and fluctuating (National Bureau of Statistics 2021). Equally worth-noting are the high food prices and changing climatic patterns (Ojeleye et al., 2022). These situations have made it needful to examine the current food security status of farming households already trapped in poverty web. However, some research works done on food security in Nigeria such as Abubakar (2010); Obayelu and Obayelu (2012); Victoria and Benjamin (2012) are very general and consider the problems from national or regional points of views. While the aggregate data are generally available at the national level, little work has been done to understand the food security problems at the household level in specific states like Benue and despite the increasing global concern of improving food security, the nature and extent of food security at the household level in rural areas are not well documented. It was against this background that this research was undertaken to analyze the food security among farm households in Benue State.

1.3 Purpose of the Study

The aim and purpose of the study is to bring to light the status of food security among farm households in Otupko local government area of Benue State.

1.4 Objectives of the Study

The broad objective of this study was to analyze the food security status of farm households in Benue State. The specific objectives are to:

  1. Describes the socio-economic characteristics of farm households in the study area.
  2. Examine the food crop contributions to farm households‟ food security
  3. Assess the expenditure pattern of farm households in the study area.
  4. Determine the food security status of farm households.
  5. Analyze the determinants of food security of farm households in the study area.
  6. Identify the coping strategies adopted by farm households to mitigate the stress and shock of food insecurity.

1.5 Research Questions

  1. What are the socio-economic characteristics of farm households in the study area?
  2. What are the food crop contributions to farm households‟ food security? iii. What is the expenditure pattern of farm households in the study area?
  3. What is the food security status of farm households?
  4. What are the determinants of food security of farm households in the study area?
  5. What are the coping strategies adopted by farm households to mitigate the stress and shock of food insecurity?

1.6 Research Hypotheses

The hypotheses that were tested in this research study are stated in null form as follows:

  1. There is no significant difference between expenditure pattern of food secured and food insecure household heads.
  2. There is no difference between the socio-economic characteristics of food
    secured household heads and their non-secured counterparts.

1.7 Justification for the Study

Food insecurity continues to be a major developmental problem across the globe undermining people’s health, productivity and often their very survival. Efforts to overcome the development challenges posed by food insecurity necessarily begin with identifying the causes at household level (Lisa and Ali, 2007). This is due to the fact that identification of household behaviours relating to food access serves as a critical building block for the development of policies and programs for helping vulnerable population and the effective way of targeting assistance for them. Reliable information on household food security is a pre-requisite for accurate and effective design, monitoring and evaluation of developmental project. Hence many development agencies consider household food security as a guiding principle for designing interventions in rural areas. Measurement of food security at household level would provide the basis for monitoring future progress and assessing the impacts of various projects, programmes and policies on the rural farm household’s food security status.

The World Health Organization recommends an intake of between 2500 – 3400kcal of energy per person per day. It was recommended that an individual should consume between 65-86g crude proteins per day out of which 35g (or 40%) must be animal protein (Babatunde and Qaim, 2010; Otunaiya and Ibidunni, 2014). Many Nigerians have energy intake that is far below the minimum recommended daily per capital intake and the factors responsible are not well known; hence, predisposing people to the challenges of food insecurity. This study, would therefore, examined the determinants of food security among farming households in Benue State, Nigeria and the coping strategies to be adopted by the farming households in the event of adverse food security conditions. Household food security is also affected by factors that would be determined in this study. Understanding these factors would go a long way in assisting the farm households to get appropriate information on how to mitigate the stress and shock of food insecurity and to reduce poverty to a barest minimum level. The knowledge that would be drawn from the study would enhance the formulation of sound macro and micro economic policies necessary for the emergence of sustainable food security policies. It could also indicate those key variables (areas) that would be effectively managed to better the food security status of the majority of the Nigerian populace who are mainly agrarian.

The study would provide valuable benchmark information to the partially existing knowledge about the food security status offarm households in the study area. The outcome of this research work would be of tremendous benefit to the policy makers and help future researchers in the field since the study would make contributions on the subject matter upon which further research work can be done in the future. It would also be a base for statistical inference to other studies on analysis of food security and coping strategies in Benue State in particular and Nigeria in general.

1.8 Limitations of the Study

Major limitation to this study is lack of physical records, data collected on household food production, food purchase and food consumption were based largely on the ones supplied by the household heads in the questionnaire. The study did not consider the effects of the anti- nutritional factors such as phytate, oxalate, saponin, tannin, hydrocyanideetc that may be present in some of the various food items which may prevent the nutrients from being available for body metabolism. The estimation of food security based on calorie consumption in this study might have underrated the importance of protein and other nutrients in the diet. The implication of this is that special attention is not given to essential nutrients which are vital for growth and development of mankind.

1.9 Organization of the Study

The study was organized into five chapters.

  1. Chapter I of the study dealt with background of the study, problem statement, objectives of the study, research hypotheses, justification for the study, scope and limitations of the study and organization of the study.
  2. Chapter II of this study dealt with review of recent literature on food security status in Nigeria, conceptual and theoretical frameworks, socioeconomic characteristics of farmers, determinants of food security, measurement of food security, food insecurity types and causes in Nigeria, coping strategies to mitigate food insecurity, analysis of Nigeria government intervention against food insecurity, pillars of food security. Others include overview of food security in Nigeria, challenges and future prospects of food security in Nigeria, review of empirical studies and models and concluding remarks.
  3. Chapter III provided the methodology for conducting the study.
  4. Chapter IV is the presentation of results and discussion while
  5. Chapter V contained the summary, conclusions, recommendations and suggestion for further study.

1.10 Definition of Terms

Food Security

Based on the 1996 World Food Summit, food security is defined when all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient safe and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life.

Food Insecurity

The USDA defines food insecurity as a lack of consistent access to enough food for every person in a household to live an active, healthy life. This can be a temporary situation for a family or can last a long time. Food insecurity is one way we measure how many people can’t afford food.

Farm Households

Farm household means one or more persons sharing a single residence on a farm where the primary occupation of the household is the operation of the farm premises.

Coping Strategies

Coping strategies are the behaviours, thoughts, and emotions that you use to adjust to the changes that occur in your life.

Chapter Five

Summary, Conclusions and Recommendations

5.1 Summary

The study focused on the analysis of food security status and coping strategies of the farm households against food insecurity in Benue State, Nigeria. In order to achieve this multi-stage sampling technique was employed to select the farm households. The primary data were collected from 390 randomly selected rural farm household heads using structured questionnaire. The statistical tools used to analyse the data were descriptive statistics, food security index, logit regression model and Kendall‟s co-efficient of concordance. Descriptive statistics was used to describe the socio-economic factors influencing food security status of farming households. The results of linear regression analysis revealed that the socio-economic characteristics of the households in the study area have significant effect on their food security status. The average age of farming household head was 49 years and 70% were literate while the mean household size of the farm households in the study area was 9 persons.

The expenditure of the farm households in the study area was very low, with the average individual living in poverty below 2 dollars per day. The mean per capita expenditure was N 405 per day in the study area, putting these households at extreme risk of food insecurity. This study also showed that a farm household had an average monthly expenditure of N 9,576.53 on food items. This was estimated at a sum of N319.22 daily per capita food expenditure. The result of the determinant of household expenditure showed that the cumulative contributions of independent variables to the household expenditure had coefficient of determination (R2 Adjusted) value of 0.51.

Based on the recommended daily energy levels (L) of 2260 Kcal, the food security line (S) was estimated at N1262.43 per day per adult equivalent, also N8, 837.01 per week per adult equivalent, while N37, 872.90 per month per adult equivalent and finally N460, 786.95 per year per adult equivalent for rural farm household. The result showed that 40.8% of the sampled households were food secured while 59.2% of the sampled households were food insecure. Furthermore, the aggregate income gap (G) of -161.23 indicates that food insecure households would need N161.23 per adult equivalent to meet their daily basic food requirements.

In order to determine the factors influencing food security status of farming households, socioeconomic characteristics of households were regressed on their food security indices and result showed five variables: education, farm size, non-farm income, access to production credit and membership of co-operative association significantly influenced rural farm household‟s food security. The food security coping strategies adopted by farming households in the study area to mitigate effects of food insecurity were: reducing food consumption, sales of livestock, borrowing, working for money and begging.

5.2 Conclusions

Based on the findings of this study, it could be concluded that the expenditure of farm households in the study area was very low; with the average individual living in poverty i.e below the World Bank recommended two dollars per day. The mean per capita expenditure was N 405 per day, putting these households at extreme risk of food insecurity. Furthermore, there is high incidence of food insecurity among many of the farm households and age, education, access to production credit, household size, farm income and non-farm income are the determinants of food security status of the sampled households. Food crops like maize, sorghum, millet and rice played crucial role in the food security drive of farm households in the study area.

5.3 Recommendations

From the findings of this study, the following recommendations are made:

  1. Access to production credit was significantly and positively related to food security status in the study area; hence farmers should be assisted to access credit through reduced interest rate and waiver of collateral security requirement for a small amount of loans. Morever, commercial banks can be encouraged by government at all levels to give loans for small and medium scale productive activities by guarantee some proportions of the credit giving to such businesses.
  2. Government and farmers groups should provide agricultural inputs to farming households during farming seasons at affordable prices in order to increase their farms size and food production capactity since farm size was one of the factors that influenced farm household food security.
  3. Education was positively and significantly related to food insecurity status of the farmers, thus reduction in food security should involve an integrated approach by both the government and private sectors through regular orientation that promotes education among farm households on the need to diversify their sources of income from agriculture to off-farm income generating business.
  4. Co-operative membership was a significant factor that influenced food security; participation of farm household‟s in co-operative societies is important for them to be able to acquire the necessary funds needed. Besides, agencies of government such as Bank of Agriculture (BOA), Small, and Medium Scale Development Agencies of Nigeria (SMEDAN), should be made to give training to farm households on Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SME).
  5. Food insecure households should be assisted by both Government and NonGovernment Organizations to increase production of maize, sorghum, millet, rice and cowpea to enhance their food security status; through improve access to better food production technologies and provision of incentives that would motivate farmers to produce more; such as good market, accessible road, electricity and buying off the excess produce in the market in order to prevent glut and stabilize price.
  6. The Non-Governmental Organizations which intend to provide food aid to these communities should do that in the months of April and May since households normally face severe food insecurity and hunger during these periods. It would go a long way in mitigating the impact of food insecurity.
  7. Food insecurity coping strategies adopted by households in the study area can only temporarily minimize the impact of food insecurity. Therefore, Nongovernmental Organizations should empower them through vocational/skill development trainings in order to make the coping strategies more sustainable.

5.4 Suggestion for Further Studies

Further studies on food security analysis should be done on the upscaling of this study to cover all the six geo-political zones in the country.

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