What is food security? Well, in attempting to answer this question, there are two key words that stand out here – food and security.
Food, according to the dictionary is any substance that people or animals eat or drink to stay alive.
Rice, beans, millet, fish, meat, water, dairy products, vegetables, fruits, alcohol, wine and soft drinks are some of the foods and drinks we know.
Security, on the other hand is about protection and freedom from threats, violence, danger, worries, bloodbath or even death. So, in my own words, food security is basically about having food to eat with your family.
Let us zero in on Nigeria and look at some statistics on agricultural transformation. Nigeria, as you know has an estimated population of about 150 million people from 774 local government areas and 36 states and Abuja. Good market, if you ask me.
But, about 80% people in Nigerians live in the rural areas. These citizens are mostly old, uneducated peasant farmers with crude, obsolete tools, trying to keep their souls and body together.
On the other hand of the same coin, there are big time farmers in major cities across the countries, who are into modern, mechanized large scale farming.
These farmers in most cases export their farm products to developed countries like the United States of America, United Kingdom, among other countries to earn foreign currencies. Little of these products are left for local consumption.
So, with about 98.3 million hectares of land mass in Nigeria, only 73.7millionn, representing less than 50% are under cultivations, even as 80% of funds provided by the Nigerian government cannot be accessed by the poor, old, uneducated farmers at the rural areas.
Yet, we are preaching the gospel of food security. It is the rich and well connected big time farmers that get to access the funds.
No wonder with the N18, 000, some workers cannot feed themselves with their salaries for two weeks.
Research has shown that in the last ten years, our beloved country has spent more than $2 billion importing all sorts of foods and drinks raging from rice, bean, meat, fish, dairy products and wheat from other countries to Nigeria.
So, what I am driving at here is simply that it is the business of government to create an enabling environment for farmers, big time and peasants to operate from in order to feed the citizens.
Truth is that all over the world, government does not have the capacity to run businesses and succeed.
The serious business of ensuring that food and drinks are available to the citizen of any country should be left entirely in the hands of private investors, with government provide the funds, power supply, water, fertilizers, tools and seedlings, among other items.