Food is of paramount importance in any country of the world and for a government to keep up with the supply of food, a lot of considerations – physical, industrial and economic, environmental, social, demographic and political – must be made and efforts must be inclusive and sustainable. When this cannot be achieved to meet the needs of the people, its can result into the rise in food prices, hunger, malnutrition, migration, insecurity, and political instability (to mention a few challenges) in that country that cannot find alternate sources of food (such as importation) to meet the demand.
Nigeria is a country that has been called “blessed” uncountable times especially by citizens because of the natural resources it has and there are many “food baskets” of the nation even if one, in particular, stands out. Many (including the Minister of Agriculture) are of the opinion that Nigeria can be self-sufficient in food production to meet the needs of all Nigerians. While this is true, there are so many factors across the food value chain that affect food production in Nigeria from economic to sociocultural to political to demographic and environmental factors. To address these issues all stakeholders need to pay attention to every detail necessary to ensure food availability in a sustainable way – supply of agricultural inputs, farming practices, poverty, illiteracy, poor infrastructure across board – road, transport and electricity, poor storage and processing facilities; poor homegrown technology and innovation, poor leadership, political instability, and corruption.
When we work to overcome our many challenges, we can enjoy the fruits of our harvest in Nigeria. Talking about harvests, some states and regions in Nigeria have comparative advantages in terms of foods that are produced there.
Here is a list of foods produced in Nigeria according to the regions and agroecology as mapped out by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural development:
North East (Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Taraba and Yobe): Wheat, rice, maize, millet, sorghum, cattle, sheep and goats; cashew, sugarcane, cassava, cowpea (beans), tomato, cotton, tea and coffee; soybeans, garlic and fruits and vegetables.
South East (Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu, and Imo) : Rice, yam, Cocoyam, Ginger, Cassava, Cocoa, palm oil, Sweet potatoes, cashew, Avocado Pear, Bush mango (ogbono), Banana, Coconut, plantain, Fish, sheep and goat; pork, pineapple and vegetables
North West (Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Sokoto and Zamfara): wheat, rice maize, sorghum, sesame seeds, Irish potato, garlic onions, ginger, date palm, sugar cane, cassava, cowpea (beans), tomato, groundnuts, soybeans, cocoyam, cattle, goat and sheep; citrus mangoes, and vegetables.
South West (Ondo, Ogun, Oyo, Ekiti, Osun and Lagos) : rice, maize, yam, cassava, cowpea soybeans, cocoa, coffee, palm oil, banana, plantain, coconut, cashew cocoa yam, cattle, piggery, sheep and goats, fish, poultry, snails, fruits and vegetables.
South South (Akwaibom Cross River, Bayelsa, Rivers, Delta and Edo): Rice, yam, cassava, cocoa, coffee, banana, plantain, palm oil, fish, coconut, snails, cattle, sheep and goats; piggery, fish, and grass cutter.
North Central (Benue, Kogi, Kwara, Nasarawa, Niger, Plateau, and Abuja FCT): Rice, maize, cocoa, millet, sorghum, millet, yam, cashew, cassava, cowpea, palm oil, tomato, Shea butter, sesame seeds, sweet potatoes, Irish potato, soybeans, sugarcane, Bush mango (ogbono), cattle, small ruminants, citrus, mangoes, pulses, ginger, avocado Pear, other fruits and vegetables.
It is clear that some zones produce more of some particular food groups than others. For example, the North East and North West produce most of the cereals and grains that we eat in the whole of Nigeria while South East, South West and South South produce more plantain, Bananas, fish, and poultry. Some foods such as rice and cassava are produced in all the zones in Nigeria; the volume of production however differs.
When most people in Nigeria can have access (physical and economic) to all these foods that are safe, nutritious and enough to meet their needs in terms of quality and quantity, it would significantly contribute to better nutrition for them.