Food Security: An informetric analysis of Agricultural Sector in Nigeria from 2009-2018 – Oluwole O. Durodolu and Racheal O.Odunlade

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Summary: Food security is a critical component of any country’s national development. Having daily access to food ensures productivity in all other aspects of citizens’ lives. Even though Nigeria’s food supply is insufficient, it produces more food than many other countries. The impact of research on food security is thus critical in agriculture, food production, optimal resource utilization, and innovation. As a result, efforts should be focused on ensuring the availability and effective use of information by fostering an environment that encourages innovative research.


Abstract

This study identifies food security as a pivotal part of national development in Nigeria. Productivity in every other aspect of citizens’ life is guaranteed by having access to food daily. More often than not, hunger and malnutrition stem from inadequate food supplies from the national, state, household, or intra-household level. Adequate research in agriculture can engender agricultural productivity and guarantee food security. This study investigates the impact of communicating scholarly agricultural research conducted in Nigerian universities on national food production. This is an informetric study using a quantitative approach to evaluate information resources generated in agricultural research in Nigeria between the years 2009 and 2018. Data were gathered using Meta-analysis to collate various studies in agricultural science within the space of ten years. This collation is limited to publications on the web of science, which is one of the largest subscription-based databases that provide wide-ranging information to many educational disciplines. Prior findings in collated studies were systematically analysed with a focus on measuring the trend of publications by year, the growth rate of research productivity, and the visibility of research and researchers, amongst others. Findings revealed that research productivity in the agricultural sector in Nigeria has significantly increased within the years under study. Also, agricultural scholars communicate their research findings to a wider audience by publishing in scientific journals. By implication, communicating Agricultural research output can aid food production and encourage agricultural producers, especially now that the federal government of Nigeria is supporting mechanised farming. This will ultimately reduce the incidences of poverty and help the developmental aspiration of the country.

Introduction

Malnutrition occurs in a circumstance where the necessary beneficial nutrient is lacking in the human diet, or a certain nutrient is supplied in excess to the detriment of human health and wellbeing. In the survey carried out by UNICEF (2019), Nigeria was identified as a nation with the second-highest affliction of stunted children globally, with an incidence proportion of 32 percent of children under five, it was also estimated that 2 million offspring in Nigeria are under the unbearable yoke of acute malnutrition, seven percent of women of the childbearing category is suffering from susceptibility caused by malnutrition. Consequently, malnutrition has been implicated as the leading cause of the death of 45 percent of children who are below five years of age. Even though Nigeria is somewhat deficient in the food supply, it is perhaps better in food production than many other countries, in recorded history, it has not suffered a major calamity that could be described as famine, mass starvation, or acute food crisis (Ojo & Adebayo, 2012). This, however, should not preclude scholars in carrying out research that will maximise productivity in the agricultural enterprise and prevent food insecurity.

Stimulating agricultural production is anchored on advanced agricultural research which necessitates effective agricultural information dissemination in which utilisation of information is fundamental to the growth and developmental efforts and mandatory for effective control, optimal utilisation of resources, and innovation of any nation’s agricultural sector. Therefore, efforts should be channelled towards ensuring availability and productive utilisation of information sustainably by creating a facilitating environment indispensable for innovative research efforts. There is a positive correlation between accessibility to information service delivery and agricultural improvement worldwide (Uganneya, Ape, and Udensi, 2013), hence the need for increased research productivity in the agricultural sector. This study takes a critical look at the online citation analysis of research publications in the agricultural discipline in SCOPUS which is Elsevier’s abstract and citation database to assess the impact of communicating scholarly agricultural research conducted in Nigerian universities on national food production.

Literature Review

Agriculture and Food Security

Food is an essential component of growth and development. It plays a significant role in the total wellbeing of an individual. Therefore, the provision of adequate food for consumption is germane to the individual’s growth and national development. To ensure an adequate supply of the right kind of food, which will shut out malnutrition amongst a people food security must be actualised. What is food security? In 1996, the World Food Summit described food security as the physical, social, and economic access to sufficient food that enhances the active and healthy life enjoyed by a people. When there is food security, there is little or no fear of starvation. Malnutrition will not be a threat, and active life is ensured. Where these indices are present, national growth is guaranteed. The essential components of food security include availability, which is the provision of sufficient quantities of appropriate food, accessibility which translates to having adequate income or other resources to purchase available food, and utilisation which is having adequate dietary intake and the ability to absorb and use nutrients in the body (Food & Nutrition Technical Assistance, 2013-2018).

The concept of food security is tightly knit with the agricultural sector. Food is one of the major classes of agricultural produce; therefore, agricultural productivity in terms of food supply is crucial to food security. Ojo and Adebayo (2012) affirm that though Nigeria has been pretending about its agricultural productivity status, especially with regards to food, the nation is far from being completely food secured. This affirmation is buttressed by Matemilola and Elegbede (2017) in their study where the role of agricultural revamping in overturning the food insecurity problems in Nigeria and the coping strategies were highlighted. However, the intervention of USAID’s agriculture and food security program has helped to ’increase agricultural productivity, expand market participation, increase the resilience of vulnerable households, improve the business enabling environment and increase access to finance in Nigeria’’ (USAID, 2019). In the context of the Nigerian environment, infometric evaluation has been done concerning other professions, for instance, in engineering (Durodolu and Ojo, 2018) and medical sciences (Durodolu, Adeleke, and Ojo, 2019).

Discussion

This paper examined the impact of agricultural research publications on food security in Nigeria. Informetric analysis of research publications on the Agricultural Sector as contained in the SCOPUS database for over ten years (2009-2018) was carried out. The study established that there was a geometrical increase in the trend of agricultural research productivity in Nigeria within the years under study. This implies that agricultural research productivity in Nigeria has been highly prolific in the research environment over the period under consideration. Nonetheless, the quality of any research work is adjourned beyond the proliferation of research outputs. Factors such as the number of citations received in the past, current, and future journals, and impact criteria occupy higher precedence than research copiousness in consideration of the impact of research published on the development of the society.

However, it is glaring that 23.4% of the research output, which represents 8 in every 10 research in Nigeria agricultural space, was produced by the University of Agriculture, Abeokuta. This is not surprising. It is only confirmed that lecturers of UNAAB are pulling their weight in the research environment, especially agricultural research, which is their domain. It also implies that other universities where agricultural science is being offered as a program need to come to the limelight. It must be noted that the use of any research lies in its dissemination and this must not be limited to local contents but must be given global dissemination in high impact factor journals. This enhances the visibility of research productivity.

Though the study established that agricultural scholars in Nigeria disseminate their research findings by making their results and scientific reports accessible to a wider audience, their research collaboration with other countries of the world in agricultural space appears to be low. This is another area of concern. The world has become a global village where collaboration, especially in academia, is the order of the day. Agricultural researchers in Nigeria need to collaborate more with colleagues in other countries. This will not only widen their horizon but will also expose them to agricultural ideas, procedures, and practices in other countries, which could be beneficial to Nigerian farmers.

Conclusion

This study concludes that though agricultural researchers in Nigeria are pulling their weights in the global research environment, they need to do more, especially in the area of collaboration with their counterparts in other countries. Therefore, scholars in the agricultural discipline should carry out more research that will maximize productivity in the agricultural enterprise and prevent food insecurity. The provision of agricultural information can catalyze robust agricultural productivity and national development.

Recommendation

Based on the findings and conclusion in this study, the following recommendations are postulated:

  • This research recommends that there should be specific disbursement or concession from the government to stimulate higher research output or investment in Agricultural research.
  • Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFUND), which is an initiative established by the Federal Government of Nigeria, to promote educational development in all the government-owned higher institutions should mandatorily dedicate a higher percentage of their fund to helping Agricultural research to promote food security in the country.
  • More visibility should be given to researches in Agricultural science so that the output of the research will reach the general public

Recommendation(s):

• The Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFUND) should support educational development in all government-owned higher education institutions and contribute a higher percentage of its funds to agricultural research to help the country’s food security.
• The government should make a specific payment or concession to encourage increased research output or investment in agricultural research.
• Agricultural science research should always be given more visibility so that research results can be shared with the general public.


About the Author:

– Oluwole O Durodolu – University of South Africa

– Racheal Odunlade – University of Lagos

Source: Research Gate

Keywords: Food Security, Agricultural Research, Nigeria, Informetric, Research Output, Research Visibility.

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