FOOD SCARCITY AND POVERTY ALLEVIATION IN RIVERS STATE

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INTRODUCTION

Since independence every administration made efforts to achieve food security in the country. In the 60s Nigeria depended on agriculture to provide infrastructure and run services until the collapse of the first republic, and the military take over of government in 1966. At that time a lot of seedlings were taken to other countries. For example, palm fruits were exported to Malaysia. Nigeria also excels in the production of Cocoa, rubber, groundnut and cotton. Subsequent administration saw the need to reverse the downward trend after the first republic. In the 70s the Government introduced the National Food Operation programme and the Nigerian Agriculture and Cooperative Bank was established to fund agriculture and assist farmers. This was followed by Operation Feed the Nation in 1976. The programme was fashioned to revolutionise agricultural sector of Nigerian economy, which was derailing from its normal contribution to the economy. For instance, between 1965 and 1970 the percentage share of agriculture in total GDP was 54.8.(table 1). This dropped to 38.6 percent between 1971 and 1975 and reduced further to 21.1 percent in 1976 to 1980. To make the programme effective, farmers most especially in the rural areas were taught farming practices and agriculture was made compulsory in all secondary schools. In addition, eleven River Basin Development Authorities (R.B.D.A) were established to facilitate irrigation agriculture as an attempt to expand farmland. Also, farm settlements were established for cash and food crops to reduce food importation.

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