This study investigated the interface between neoliberal reform and food security in Ebonyi State, between 1999 and 2013. While observing that agriculture had in the past contributed to both national and state prosperity and food security, the study also noted sharp decline in the performance which coincided with the Nigeria’s implementation of neoliberal policies under civil rule in 1999. Most of the policies targeted the agricultural sector, include: deregulation of agricultural marketing activities, the State Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy (SEEDS) etc. It is however, obvious that food security is indispensable for the survival of mankind, and neoliberal reform has implicated its availability and affordability in Nigeria. Thus, to investigate this, Marxian Instrumentalist theory was used as our framework of analysis and data were generated through qualitative method of data collection with reliance with secondary sources of data like books, journal articles etc. Our method of data analysis which involved given a qualitative descriptive explanation to statistical data, guided our understanding of the study, and this was supported by the adoption of One-Group Pre-test– post-test research design for controlling the variables under study. The findings of this study were clearly articulated in our conclusion and provided the ground for validating our hypotheses that: (i) the adoption of agricultural trade liberalization in Ebonyi State, between 1999 and 2013 failed to enhance staple food affordability, and (ii), government’s ineffective implementation of SEEDS in Ebonyi State between 2004 and 2007 accounted for low agricultural productivity in the state. Arising from the above findings, the study therefore, recommended above all, that the formulation of policies and programmes should gear towards increasing domestic food production, as well as ensuring income redistribution in the State.
1.1 Background of the Study
This study set out to investigate the impact of neoliberal reform on food security in Ebonyi State, between 1999 and 2013. Neoliberal reform, a theory of political and economic practices was developed in the late 1970s. As a policy objective, the liberalization and deregulation of the exchange control regime was designed to facilitate and enhance trading activities. Items on the import prohibition list have over time been drastically reduced, with government opting to utilize tariff structures to protect end-user product pricing of local industries and discourage frivolous imports. Nigeria’s real first move towards large scale deregulation of the economy started with SAP in 1986 and this has been subsequently upheld and reinforced by successive regimes. Ebonyi State, being one of the states in Nigeria is not left out in this reform process.
The study however, focused on Ebonyi State, which is in the south-east zone of Nigeria.
The state is made up of 13 local government areas with the capital in Abakaliki. It is located on latitude 6015’N and longitude 8005’E on the globe and it shares boundaries with Cross River, Abia, Enugu and Benue States in the east, south, west and north respectively. Its total land area is 5,530km (Wikipedia, 2012). It also shares boarder with Imo State at Ivo L.G.A. According to NBS (2006) the population of the area is 2,173,501 made up of 1,132,517 males and 1,040,984 females. Ebonyi State is an agrarian state with the majority of the populace involved in one form of agricultural production or the other mainly at a small scale. The crops produced in the area include: rice, yam, cassava, cocoyam, vegetables and others. Apart from the production of crops, rearing of animals especially the small ruminants (sheep and goat) as well as Muturu cattle and fishing are also practiced by the people. The pattern of agricultural production is mainly defined by the influence of the annual weather regime of the area based on two distinct seasons: the dry
and the rainy seasons. The dry season starts around November and ends around March while the rainy season starts in April and ends in October with the average annual rainfall at about 134 mm (EBADEP, 2011).
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