Engaging agriculture as a weapon to redefine security in Nigeria
Several causes of violence, conflicts and so on can now be traced to deprivation of food, means to get food or adequate access to it. Stability in Nigeria as well as in other countries is for the most part a function of food security in the country in terms of price, access, nutrition and sometimes stability in prices of the food. Hunger and malnutrition is as dangerous as or even more so than other causes of breaches in security because the effects are not restricted to the poor or less privileged, even the armed forces would be affected adversely.
In essence, the paper puts forward that as a developing country with aspirations of being developed, agriculture should be engaged vigorously to create a situation of food security in all parts of the country in order to avoid the consequences that follow lack of action.
ENGAGING AGRICULTURE AS WEAPON IN REDEFINING SECURITY IN NIGERIA
This paper therefore discusses on the metamorphosis that made security be viewed in relations to the needs of man such as food. The traditional concept of security involved the activities of the armed forces just like in several wars man has witnessed. Nigeria as do the rest of the world are in need of this security; food security which a well engaged “agro-potentials” can bring. Several causes of violence, conflicts and so on can now be traced to deprivation of food, means to get food or adequate access to it. Stability in Nigeria as well as in other countries is for the most part a function of food security in the country in terms of price, access, nutrition and sometimes stability in prices of the food. Hunger and malnutrition is as dangerous as or even more so than other causes of breaches in security because the effects are not restricted to the poor or less privileged, even the armed forces would be affected adversely. In essence, the paper puts forward that as a developing country with aspirations of being developed, agriculture should be engaged vigorously to create a situation of food security in all parts of the country in order to avoid the consequences that follow lack of action.
Evolution and change has not spared the concept of security over the years especially as it relates to matters of immediate concern in the world. The concept of security has therefore carried various interpretations and meanings at different times and to different people. It has been termed mostly as national security although with a little or no consensus amongst scholars. It included the protection of citizens, properties, lives, interests, communities and institutions as a whole and public) (private against acts of violence, terror, espionage, and so on in order to serve the collective interest of the state (Karim and Albert, 2013). National security is the protection of entities or items that falls under the collective interest of the country and includes lives, properties, the sovereignty of the state from violence and acts of terror. This viewpoint however appeals to the duties and expertise of the military might of the state to ensure national security.
The metamorphosis that has reflected in the insinuation given to the concept of security owes its existence to the several world events, and also the influences of works of scholars. In the traditional perspective; also the realist view of security portrays it as being equipped and vigilant to defend and protect the states territory by warding off external menace and consequently safeguarding the citizens of the state (Zabadi, 2007).
The lens used by scholars who subscribe to this perspective has been updated through landmark events like the Cold War, the 9/11 terrorist attacking the history of man. In other words, the traditional concept of security can also be referred to as the state-centric which then involves strive towards balance of power, arms control amongst others nut the present day security which is also referred to as “human security” or the “new security”. The state centric security emphasized mostly on the states integrity, independence, the state and might if the military and its contribution to the defense of the state from internal and external aggressions and threats. This is all geared towards the sustainability and the preservation of the state whereas, the concept of human security preaches the security of every individual in the state and not that state as a whole because the aggregate of the security of individuals equals the same for the state (Beswick and Jackson, 2011). As cited in Hough (2004: 13)
This concept was birthed at the Pan African conference co-sponsored by the UN and the Organization for African Unity (OAU). The concept of security goes beyond military considerations. It must be construed in terms of the security of the individual citizen to live in peace with access to basic necessities of life while fully participating in the affairs of his/her society in freedom and enjoying all fundamental human rights (African Leadership Forum, 1991).
Inherent in this excerpt is the place of the basic need of food for the sustenance of man. Human security however can be explained in two aspects while one refers to the protection from sudden and damaging disruptions in the daily lives of people’s homes, jobs or communities. The other aspect concerns itself with the safety of persons from threats like hunger, repression and disease (Williams, 2008). This therefore asserts that food security is an aspect of human security because it focal point lies in the remarkable decrease or total eradication of the threat of hunger to man. In an adverse situation of food insecurity, according to the World Bank, it is the lack of food to promote proper health conditions and physical activities (Barash and Webel, 2014).
‘Norman Borlaug (the father of the “Green Revolution” and the 1970 Nobel Peace Prize laureate often said that you can’t build a peaceful world on empty stomachs and human misery. And yet, there are 800 million people who are going to bed hungry every night” Deductively, the validity of the traditional definition of security is dependent on the operation of human security which involves food security and in this case is the focus and the result of agriculture is prioritized appropriately.”Although "national security" often conjures up images of missiles and militaries, it should also prompt images of maize and millet. The availability of and access to food is inextricably linked to prosperity and stability” (Shrier, 2011; Bobo and Hegadorn, 2014). Countries of the world are going even further explicitly incorporate the food security objective into their defense efforts. This is for example the case of the United States, where agricultural and food concerns are clearly identified and presented as key issues of national security (Jacques, 2016). Basically, the issue of food security has graduated from being inconsequential to being so consequential as to be included as an integral part of national security.
According to Dupraz and Bourdon (2014:1) “food security exists when all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life,” (World Food Summit, 1996). Physical availability, nutritional value and the cost or affordability of the food are to be considered before a country, household or community can be food secure. Agriculture is therefore important to produce food for the citizens in a country and subsequently deducing hunger. It is also likely to bring about poverty and then initiating food security (World Bank, 2007). States like the United States of America has subscribed to the security that engages agriculture to ensure food security (Bobo and Hegadorn, 2014). Nigeria as a state should engage agriculture also for security; food security which is the new face of security.
AGRICULTURE AS WEAPON TO REDEFINE SECURITY IN NIGERIA
Although Nigeria has experienced security challenges that have been exemplified through the Biafran civil war and Niger Delta’s militancy amongst other representations, a situation of food insecurity can equally trigger much more drastic reactions. For instance, increase in prices of essential foods can bring about food insecurity which is equally inimical to human security in general (Brinkman and Hendrix, 2011). Timothy Besley and Torsten Persson (2008) “find that as a country’s import prices increase, thereby eroding real incomes, the risk of conflict increases” (as cited in Brinkman and Hendrix, 2011).
These view can be further corroborated by a saying of Lord John Boyd that “you cannot build peace on empty stomachs” (Boulang and Dowswell, 2004:31) (as cited in Mbachu and Eze, 2009: 171). For peace and tranquil to exist in a country, the place of agriculture cannot be swept under the carpet which in Nigeria accounts for domestic production, provision of foreign reserve also employment. Without the following effects of agriculture on Nigeria’s economy, there would be a growth in structural conflict which would eventually amount to insecurity; food and national as a whole. In other words, food security is paramount to national security (Mbachu and Eze, 2009). Although this has been the new course of security for countries of the world, it is yet to be realized in Nigeria because the agriculture and rural development sector has not replaced oil and gas sector in the country in terms of prioritizing. To properly reposition the agriculture and rural and development sector to tackle the daunting challenges in the 21st century namely food insecurity, the government should redirect policies and provide strategic support to reinforce the growth of agriculture in the country (Akinbamowo, 2013).
For true security to be assured in Nigeria for the citizens and for the whole country, food is very consequential to conflict, security or insecurity as the case maybe and the agriculture should be a major instrument or weapon to redefining security- a state concerned with more than weapons, borders or the military but most essentially the satisfaction of the most basic needs of the citizens starting from food.
This redefinition would be considered in terms of importation of food versus domestic production of food, the increment in prices of food, shortage of food which would inadvertently lead to hunger and a greater chance of developing into a state of rebellion and a general insecurity not just for Nigerians but also the human race. “Nigeria is a net importer of food and the food import bill as a proportion of total import has maintained an upward swing despite government's restrictive agricultural trade policy”(Adebayo, 2010:140). In order for this reliance on imports to be reduced, the private sector should be involved in agriculture and commercial farming should also be encouraged as well vocational agricultural education. Nigeria for a long time has been a major importer of food which has increasingly affected the domestic production of food in the country regardless of the several policies by the government to encourage domestic production and mitigate excess importation of food.
It is a known fact that the ruthless expedition for food has shaped human history, provoking wars, driving migration and underpinning the growth of nations. For instance, the escalation of prices of food especially bread which was the staple food in Arab nations provokes a reaction in these nations which was later referred to as the Arab Spring. In Nigeria, food accounts for a large portion of the budget of Nigerians and if prices of food soar, the poor bear the brunt which can easily lead to an escalation- taking an example of the Arab Spring and the foundation of the doctrine of growth is the disregard for agriculture which has hitherto made or has made it difficult for development to take place. Therefore Nigeria should see agriculture as a ‘blank cheque’ to achieve poverty reduction, rural development and transformation, employment opportunities, national health and most of all security - food security for the all encompassing security of the country (Jerome, 2012; Eme and Onyishi, 2014).
Agriculture in essence is not just a tool for engendering development or providing jobs for Nigerians but it is a strategy to avert the early brew of insecurity in terms of food riot, food shortages or increase in food prices but is a strategy which can be employed quench the full blown take-over of food insecurity as the case has been with Nigeria. Importation of food or the excess thereof which constitute a part of food insecurity would be reduced and domestic production would be directly or indirectly encouraged.
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