By Abdallah el-Kurebe, currently at IITA, Ibadan
Ibadan – The Global Food Security Index, GFSI of the Economist Intelligence Unit has ranked Nigeria as the 80th among 105 countries with food affordability, availability and quality.
The Index was disclosed at the Biosciences for Farming in Africa, B4FA Media training workshop on Plant Breeding and Genetics, currently taking place at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, IITA, Ibadan.
Course Leader, Mr. Bernie Jones said that Nigeria scored 34.8 and therefore ranked 80th out of the 105 countries assessed by GFSI.
He explained that the country’s ranking was based on Affordability, Availability and Quality and Safety.
According to the Index, Nigeria recorded weak scores in the areas of “Public expenditure on agricultural research and development, 0.0; presence of food safety net programs, 0.0; gross domestic product per capita, 3.0; proportion of population under global poverty line, 9.6; food consumption as a share of household expenditure, 9.6 and protein quality, 12.8.”
Nigeria, according to the Index however, was scored more favourably in “sufficiency of supply, micronutrient availability, volatility of agricultural production, diet diversification, protein quality, agricultural import tariffs and gross domestic product per capita.”
The 105 countries grouped as those with “Best environment”, Good environment” and “Moderate environment,” Nigeria was categorised among countries that “Need improvement.”
In an interview with Vanguard, a Plant Physiologist with the Institute of Agricultural Research of the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Dr. Inuwa Usman said that Nigeria produces only one tone per hectare against some other African countries like Zimbabwe that produce between five and six tones per hectare.
According to him, “Between 1992 and 1994 on the average, West Africa yielded only 1.0 tons of maize per hectare. For the potentials of the new crop varieties, like maize, we are talking of six to seven tons per hectare instead of the present one to two tons. The National average for Nigeria is now two tons per hectare,” Dr. Usman explained.
He opined that Nigeria must look at the modern technologies that are capable of bringing multiple food production. “The productivity of Nigerian farmer is very low and our agricultural productivity is now ranked among the lowest, globally.”
“There is the need to improve on this because of the implications it has on food security and this is where biotechnology comes in,” Dr. Usman added.
He suggested for the need of Nigeria to cue into the prospects of biotechnology in order to meet up with its nutritional requirement.