1.1 Background of the Study
Food security is a condition that is best described as access by all of adequate and nutritious diet to maintain an healthy living. According to Food and Agricultural Organisation FAO (2002a), food security can be defined as ensuring that all people at all times have both physical and economic access to enough food for an active and healthy life. Food security has been noted to constitute a fundamental challenge to people’s welfare and economic growth in developing countries of sub-Saharan west Africa (Bolaji – Olutunji et al., 2008).
Agriculture is the growing of crops and rearing of animals for man’s use. In Nigeria, food production is largely seasonal and depends on rain - fed agriculture in the sub- region. Reliance on food production from pockets of small farm holdings in the rural areas poses a threat to food security. Inadequate food production from resource-poor and small farm holdings to feed ever growing population predisposes the people to food insecurity (Ojo and Adebayo, 2012a).
A forest is simply a community of plants (vegetation) that is dominated by trees and forest resources. These resources are critical for the sustenance of the people. The major product that can be harvested or extracted from the forest is timber, while every other thing remains minor products. Therefore, non timber forest products are sometimes referred to as minor products. Non timber forest products are goods of biological origin other than timber derived from the forest, other wooded land and trees outside forest Non Wood News (NWN, 2000). Non timber forest products play a vital role in contributing to food security of the rural dwellers by providing a wide range of foods which supply essential nutrients and vitamins. Non- timber Forest Products (NTFPs) include products used as food and food additives (edible nuts, mushroom, grass-cutters, snails, fruits, herbs, spices and condiments, aromatic plants, game and, animal products used for medicine, cosmetics or cultural purpose for human use (Ahenkan and Boom, 2011a)
The contribution of non timber forest products to food security is even more significant as they provide not only the staple foods that help to overcome hunger but a number of dietary substances through supplemental foods (Vinceti et al., 2013a). Edible foods found in the forest (seeds, vegetables, fruits, insects, rodents, wild game and fish) have superior nutritional quality compared with domesticated varieties. Many of the micronutrients provided by forest foods have important health and developmental functions and their absence in diets have important health implications United Nation Standing Committee on Nutrition (UNSCN, 2004). Green leafy vegetables and orange coloured fruits are good sources of vitamin A, which is an important element in the functioning of the human immune system (Vinceti et al., 2013b).
Forests contribute greatly to the diets of rural dwellers and of many people who live far from the forest. Forest fruits, nuts, berries, for instance are popular with rural as well as urban consumers. These and many other forest foods add variety and flavour to the diets while providing essential vitamins, minerals, fats and proteins. During the time of seasonal food shortage or unexpected emergencies for example drought, floods or wars, forest foods offer insurance against malnutrition and famine (Termonte et al., 2013a). Leaves –used for stews and soups, mushrooms are the most common forest foods (Albert and Emmanuel, 2011a). Animal foods includes a large number of invertebrates such as edible insects and vertebrates including mammals, birds and fishes.
There are abundant resources in the Nigerian forest reserves. These resources are of great benefit to the rural households by contributing tremendiuos to their income, food security, health and overall wellbeing (Osalusi et al., 2011a). Non timber forest products form an integral part of the livelihood strategy of rural community in the tropics and continue to be an important component of household nutrition and health in Africa (Colfer, 2008a). He stressed further that, NTFPs are important component of household subsistence, especially in terms of food consumption, nutrition and health. Another interesting point about NTFPs is that, its collection is ecologically less destructive than timber harvesting, as a result of this, there is the belief that more intensive management of forest for such products could contribute to both development and commercial use of NTFP as reported by (Belcher, 2005a). Jimoh and Haruna (2007a) posited that rural households spend income realized from the sales of non- timber forest products (NTFPs) to buy consumable goods and pay for basic expenses. This provides a supplement to the economic status of the rural dwellers.
The effective integration of information and knowledge on nutritious forest foods and their conservation into national nutrition strategies and programs by establishing policy platforms that bring together the environment, health, development, agriculture, forestry and other sectors with the aim of mainstreaming the use of forest foods in strategies addressing food security, nutrition and conservation is needed for availability of forest foods (Vinceti et al., 2013c).
1.2 Statement of Research Problem
Food is a basic need of man. It is needed for an active and productive life. Man need food for survival, prevention of sickness and for the normal physiological activities of the body. Hence the need for food security is important as it affects the development and growth of any nation. Food security exists when all people at all times have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs food preferences for an active and healthy life (FAO, 2002b). Despite numerous policies and programmes geared towards improving the living standards of rural households in Nigeria, it has been difficult to stem the growth of food insecurity.
A number of factors that are responsible for the precarious food insecurity in Africa include : low agricultural productivity, lack of agricultural policies, poor infrastructure and high transport costs, lack of appropriate marketing strategies, frequent extreme weather events, high disease burden including HIV/AIDS, weak financial support systems, lack of safety net systems and political conflicts (Menghestab, 2005 as cited by Ojo and Adebayo, 2012b).
Livelihoods of the rural people of Oyo State depend on agriculture. However, erratic nature of rain and prevalence of drought in the country make agricultural production a challenge. Forest and trees are becoming scarce, thus resulting in a state of imbalance between what rural households need and what they can obtain. This is a threat to their survival. To counter this problem, rural households therefore involve themselves in the management of forest areas in order to be able to obtain non-timber forest products (NTFPs). Non-timber forest products play a crucial role in enhancing food security of the rural households. As living systems, forests have a vital role in maintaining the ecological base for food security and serve as store houses of biological diversity (Belcher, 2005b). The health outcomes of diets rich in micronutrients and phytochemical and other components of food that regulate physiological functions are being recognized maximally. This has led to a shift in focus of those diets that are high in quality dietary diversity and promotion of consumption of foods that are rich in micronutrients (Vinceti et al., 2013d).
Rural household are highly dependent on forest resources for subsistence foods as well as for cash income. FAO’s experience in community forest management in developing countries has documented important roles of NTFPs which includes income generation for rural development, more equitable sharing of forest benefits and local participation in forest management (FAO, 2001). Despite these potential benefits that are derived from the forest in contributing to food security status of rural populations, they are perceived to be poorly understood, under-estimated and not adequately considered in policy decisions related to food security and nutrition. In the light of this, this research is aimed at bridging the identified knowledge gap by answering the following research questions with respect to identified study area:
- What are the socio-economic characteristics of the households in the study area?
- What are the factors that significantly affect the demand for non timber forest products in the study area?
- What are the price and expenditure elasticities of non timber forest products in the study area?s
- What is the perceived level of consumption of non timber forest products in the study area ?
- What is the food insecurity status of the rural households in the study area ?
1.3 Objectives of the Study
The broad objective of this study is to examine the effect of non-timber forest products’ demand on rural household food insecurity in Oyo State, while the specific objectives are to:
- describe the socio-economic characteristics of rural households in the study area.
- identify the factors that significantly affect the demand for non timber forest products in the study area.
- determine price and expenditure elasticity of non timber forest products in the study area.
- assess the level of consumption of non timber forest products in the study area
- determine food insecurity status of the rural households in the study area.
1.4 Hypothesis of the Study
Ho1: Non-timber forest products demand has no significant relationship with rural household food insecurity in the study area.
1.5 Justification of the Study
Food is a basic necessity of life, food is needed for an active and productive life. The dependent of people on food production from resource poor and small farm holdings predisposed them to food insecurity (Ojo and Adebayo, 2012c). Many staple foods, however, contain low amount of limiting micronutrients essential for human health and by themselves are insufficient to address the problem of “hidden hunger” or micronutrinent deficiency (Vinceti et al., 2013e). Forest food can thus be of crucial importance for seasonal dependent agricultural system. Forest resources are a key component of the natural resources base of any community, region or country and they play a fundamental role in the socio-economic well-being of the people.
This is particularly so in Africa where most of the countries including Nigeria have large rural populations that depend on natural resource exploitation for their livelihood. Over two thirds of Africa’s 600 million people obtain a major proportion of their subsistence and cash income from a large and diverse set of forest products and forest related activities Centre for International Forestry Research (CIFOR , 2005).
Nigeria is endowed with abundant forest resources that could provide the basis for sustainable rural livelihoods and improve food security status of rural people. However, this potential remains largely under-utilized due to primarily a lack of understanding of the value and contribution of the resources , and conflicting and or / unclear natural resource policies, legal frameworks and institutional set-ups. The result of this study will therefore, provide information on the uses and benefits derived from forest products as they affect rural food security and will also serve as added information towards a better understanding of the intrinsic values of the forest by the government and policy makers.