STRATEGY FOR ENSURING FOOD SECURITY IN TARABA STATE, NIGERIA
The study identified strategies for ensuring food security in Taraba State. Specifically, the study was designed to identify the determinants of food security; examine the production patterns of food by farmers, identify the factors responsible for food insecurity: and determine the strategies of ensuring food security. The study was carried out in Taraba State of Nigeria in the year 2011. The population of the study comprises all heads of households in Taraba State. A multi stage sampling technique was used in the selection of respondents. Two agricultural zones were selected using a simple random technique. These were Zing and Bali zones and they were selected using simple random sampling techniques and the process gave rise to the selection of four communities/cells per zone bringing the total number of communities/cells sampled to eight (8). From each sampled cell, a list of farmers was obtained from the farmers’ association and from the list of farmers’ households. Fifteen (15) heads of households were sampled using simple random selection techniques. The total number of respondents for the study summed up to one hundred and twenty (120). A set of interview schedule and questionnaire were used for data collection out of which 117 were found analysable. Frequency, percentage scores, mean scores, and standard deviations were used to analysed the data collected. Results from the study showed that majority (79.5%) of the respondents were males. The age limit of respondents shows that 56% were between the range of 20-29 years and the mean age was 32 years. The educational level of the respondents reveals that the farmers have enjoyed one form of education or the other with about 53.0% having OND/NCE as their highest educational qualification. Further results show that 65.8% of the respondents were single while 31.6% were married. The mean household size of farmers was 7 persons. The mean years of farming experience of the farmers was 8.4 years. The majority (59.0%) of the farmers had 1-5 years of farming experience. Majority (62.4%) of the farmers engage in trading and their main source of information was through extension pragents with 47.9%. Majority (84.6%) of the farmers grew maize grains and some crops like rice, yam, guinea corn, and cassava. The monthly income of the respondents revealed that majority (58.8%) have an estimated monthly income of below N20,000. The food security analysis of the farmers revealed that the availability of food items for the respondents were as follows: maize (X = 3.09) cassava flour (X = 3.09), and rice (X = 2.90) depicting availability of the respondents to a large extent while food items from proteins were perceived to be available to a great extent. The means scores show that most of these food items are available Taraba State. On the accessibility of food in Taraba State, majority (76.9%) of the respondents accessed their food items from both farm and market while 18% of the respondents got their food items from farms only. Most (57.3%) of the respondents purchased their food items with money. The prices of the items were moderate (63.2%). The access to food by the respondents as a determinant of food security is not a problem in the entire State. The study also identified some barriers to food access in the state. It revealed that religion (59.8%), culture (64.1%), poor government policies (64.1%), geographical location (60.1%), inadequate market information (61.7%), all have more than half of the respondents agreeing to them as various barriers to their food access. In the utilization of food, carbohydrate food items were not eaten in a higher proportion during the last one day of the interview, while in the case of proteins such as beans, fish, eggs, and milk, they were eaten by the respondents on a 12 – 24 hours basis. The study also showed that the farming pattern which is mostly being practiced among respondents is mixed farming (93.2%) and mixed cropping (82.0%). This could be one of the reasons for high availability of many food items across the various respondents in the state. It is therefore recommended that subsidies should be provided on agricultural inputs by the state government, local government, and other private organizations. Also, opportunities should be provided for farmers to participate in planning and decision making in agricultural programmes and policies in the state.