Historical Analysis of Interventionist Programmes for Food Security in Anambramamu River Basin of Nigeria, 1960-1991
A Thesis Submitted to the School of Postgraduate Studies, University of Lagos
The importance of food in human life and in national development cannot be overemphasised. Based on this imperative, this study examines in historical context, the strategies, successes, challenges and limitations of the interventionist programmes inaugurated by the Federal and State governments, donor agencies and nonstate actors towards achieving food security in the Anambra-Mamu River Basin in the period between 1960 and 1991. It illustrates the rich biodiversity of plants and animals of nutritious values, which in the past served for food self-sufficiency in this geographical space located in the south-eastern Nigeria. The colonial regime adjudged the food situation satisfactory and hence adopted laissez faire policy which failed to lay the foundation for food security attainment. The effect was that the prevailing periodic food deficits in some places started manifesting as chronic under-nutrition owing to growing soil fertility and exponential population growth. At independence in 1960, the Eastern Nigerian Government initiated revolutionary formula which dramatically changed the equation and made food affordable to the populations. Unfortunately, these initiatives were damaged and in some cases destroyed by the Nigerian Civil War during which, widespread malnutrition and kwashiorkor took unprecedented toll among the citizens. The matter was aggravated in the post- civil war years by the structural changes in the economy, particularly oil boom which stagnated local food production, with the rules of the game tilting in favour of food import. High level of dependence on imported food discouraged the local population from engagement in food production and this encouraged extensive rural-urban migration. The Federal and Anambra State authorities as well as donor agencies intervened with plethora of programmes such as Operation Feed the Nation, Green Revolution and Food for the People Programme. Unfortunately, the gap between intentions and performance was quite substantial resulting to failures. Employing the dependency and food entitlement theories, the study demonstrates that the externally and vertically integrated character of the Nigerian economy of which the Anambra- Mamu area was a microcosm, led to fundamental contradictions and gross inequitable distribution of national wealth which made the interventionist programmes unable to achieve their objectives. Through multidisciplinary methodical strategies such as unstructured oral interviews, archival materials and government publications, materials from donor agencies, private documents, research dissertations, newspaper reports and articles as well as historical analysis approach, the findings of the research showed that the low income earners were unable to access food in the right quantity and quality to lead healthy and fruitful life. Their average daily food intake of 2,062 kilocalories and 45 grams of protein in the urban areas and 1,976 kcals and 39 gms in the rural areas fell below FAO's requirements of 2,400 kcals and 65 gms. Using the insights offered by economic history, the study concludes that the failure of the interventionist programmes consigned the vulnerable and marginal households to food poverty. It recommends among other strategies, improved agro-processing technologies, increased private sector investment, and utilization of comparative economic advantages offered by large-scale tree cropping, animal husbandry and provision of agricultural subsidies to reverse the trend.