Food Security and Coping Strategies among Ethnic Groups in North Central Nigeria

Mary O. Agada, Edwin M. Igbokwe


A study was conducted to identify the factors influencing food security and the coping strategies utilized during food shortage among ethnic groups in rural North Central Nigeria in 2011. A random sample of 120 Tiv, 108 Igala and 112 Eggon households were interviewed to find out the quantities of every food item consumed in the household in the past 24 hours and the coping strategies employed during food stress. The analysis was done using frequency, percentage, mean scores and logit regression. The findings indicated that while the majority (68%) of the Tiv households were food secure, only 45% of the Eggon and 42% of the Igala were food secure.  In all, 51.8% of the households were food secure. Socio-economic factors such as output from own production (t= 2.89; p ? 0.05), farm income (t= 2.21), annual income (t=2.79; p ? 0.05) and household size (t= -7.64; p ? 0.05) were found to be important correlates which affect food security. The study also showed that the mean coping strategy index for Igala, Eggon and Tiv ethnic groups were 44.8, 37.5 and 34.4 respectively and 38.5 for the entire population. The commonly adopted coping strategies for the entire population were reliance on less preferred food (95.8%) and limiting food portions at meal times (83.5%). Although slightly above half of the households were food secure, calorie consumption was just at the threshold of adequacy while the use of coping strategies is a reflection of the poor access to food by households. Thus, food remained an issue in North Central Nigeria. Therefore, it is imperative for policy makers to plan to improve food availability and to increase family income to enhance quality of rural life.

Keywords: factors, food security, coping strategies, rural households, ethnic groups, North Central Nigeria

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