CHAPTER ONE INTRODUCTION 1.1 BACKGROUND OF STUDY Food is any nourishing substance that is eaten, drunk, or otherwise taken into the body to sustain life, provide energy, promote growth, etc. It is an indispensible perquisite for the survival of mankind and its economic activities including food production. For food security to exist at the national, regional and local levels, food must be available accessible and properly utilized. It is a basic necessity of life. Food is regarded as the basic means of sustenance, and an adequate food intake in terms of quantity and quality, is a key, for healthy and productive life (FAO, 2005). It is perhaps the most important commodity linking rural producers and urban consumers (Rengasamy et al. 2003 distribution. At another level, the concern is more with the problem of malnutrition which could also affect labor. Agriculture is an important tool and vehicle for reducing the effect of household food insecurity, unemployment and poverty which are major in Nigeria (Moore, 2000). Agricultural productivity is linked to food security as higher agricultural productivity would translate to larger food supplies, lower food prices, higher farm income and higher purchasing power for other basic necessities for the attainment of household food security (Wunderlich and Norwood, 2006). To have sustainable development in agriculture there is need to make efficient use of basic production factors, which include land, labor and capital (Bervidova, 2001). Labor is one of the most important inputs in agricultural production. Labor is a service (person-years per year) and includes all human time-using activities, including what is sometimes labeled separately as labor and management. Labor services are perishable and hence cannot be moved to another period in time for use; workers, on the other hand, are durable, potentially working for many years as well as being geographically mobile. Labor plays a central and crucial role in agricultural production, particularly under small scale peasant production system. Human labor activates other production factors and transforms other farm inputs into the required outputs. It is about the only source of labor available to small holder farmers in Nigeria. The small holder farmers contribute the largest proportion (about 85%) of total domestic agricultural output in their area. Thus, the hope of continuing supply of food need of ever growing population anchors very auspiciously on human labor. How it is measured and valued is critical for establishing the cost of producing agricultural commodities and accurately portraying labor’s relative share of the total cost of production. Farm labor includes all hired labor/contract which may be subdivided into; seasonal labor and task contracted casual labor, exchange, and unpaid or family labor used in agricultural production. However, .the contribution of exchange labor to family’s overall labor input is low (less than 10%). Some studies (Echebiri & Mbanasor, 2003; King 1972) confirm that farm labor supplied by humans on the farm is not homogenous and job content differ. These studies found that in general, men performed heavy farm operations such as land preparation, staking and harvesting with women and children performing lighter operations such as planting, fertilizer application and weeding. Ajibefun et. al., (2000) noted that hired labor contributes 88.0%  of the total use on farms thus emphasizing its importance in agricultural activities. Other types of labor that could be found employed are family labor and exchange labor. Researchers on farm labor supply have observed the total supply of labor depends on factors such as the size of the population, its age composition and certain institutional factors (Hardwick, 1994).
1.2 STATEMENT OF PROBLEM Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa with an estimate of 150 million people (Nigerian Population Census, 2006). Approximately 68% 0f this population consists of women and children with over 70% residing and securing their lively in the rural areas (Maziya-Dixon et al., 2004). Agriculture in Nigeria is of notable relevance in the country’s economic development and growth. It contributes more than 48% of the total annual GDP, employs about 68% of the labor force, account for the over 70% of the non-oil exports and provided over 80% the food need of the country (Adegboye, 2004). Despite these notable roles, food insecurity RANKS top most among the developmental challenges facing Nigeria (Babatunde et al 2007). Food insecurity has been on the increase in most rural areas in Nigeria (Oni et al., 2011). In Nigeria food insecurity has risen from about 18% in 1986 to about 41% in 2004 (Sanusi et al 2006). In fact, food security is considered a measure of poverty in many societies since it reduces access to food (World Bank, 1991; Nord et al., 2000; Adeniyi and Ojo, 2013). Therefore, food security of households will improve if poverty is reduced (Philip et al., 2009; Aewuyi and Hayatu, 2011). The recent increase of food prices call for serious attention, due to challenges and crises facing the globe is worsening food and other Agricultural products crisis period unheard of in the last 30 years and the potential of leading to scarcity. That is why this vital issue has taken the most attention among world leaders, thereby increasing and agitating the concern for the world’s ability to feed its 6.8 billion people, to prevent world-wide instability as reported in most countries like Nigeria (Food and Agricultural Organization, 2013). As a result, various international organizations and individual countries embarked on aggressive food security movement to find a concrete solution to the situation in order to make food affordable to all. The Food Security assessment in 2005 proves that about 750 million people were food unsecured in almost 70 low-income countries. Furthermore, Asia and other Commonwealth States experienced a 30% decline in the number of those that are hungry. In Latin American and Caribbean countries has varied a little over time, but there has been a noticeable trend across the area as a wholly. In spite of the strong growth in food production, Sub-Saharan Africa is the only region where hunger has increase in the last ten years. The challenge today is that high food prices has led to the increase in food insecurity and widespread food crisis in many developing countries in which Nigeria is not excluded. However, poor people in developing countries spend about 50-80% of their monthly income on food meet consumers need. Any increase in food prices will reduce food consumption and increase hunger. In Nigeria however, the prices of rice, corn and wheat recorded a high rooftops recently (FAO, 2013). Generally, this overall food crisis has been attributed to a number of factors including climate change, population growth, poor storage facilities, increased demand for bio-fuels, failure to improve crop yield, high oil prices resulting to increased input loss for producers and traders. The structural problems like under-investment in agriculture and dominance in supply chain of food and agricultural policies sky rocket prices of food. However, Studies have revealed that agricultural-based livelihood in rural Nigeria has a higher level of poverty than other occupational groups. Rural agriculture is limited to local variations in weather conditions, and thus expected variations in income levels and thus access to food respectively (Omonona, 2009). Additionally, Hired and Use labor is not only applicable where family labor is insufficient. The much desired transition from small scale farming to commercial level production by expansion of production resources definitely requires outsourcing for additional labor. Blanc et- al. (2008) opines that the proportion of use labor in total farm labor use in many developing countries has continued to increase over time which makes this present study relevant. Achieving food security is still a challenge due to the global approach being employed instead of formulating and applying solutions based on specific locations with an understanding of the social system and livelihood system (FAO, 2003). Hence the study intends to assess labor use and food security among rural farming household in Oyo state, Nigeria. In essence, the study attempts to provide answers to the following questions: What are the socioeconomic characteristics of maize farmers in the study area? What are different labor sources available to respondent in the study area? How do maize farmers use the available labor? What is the food security status of the respondent? What are the determinants of household food security of the respondent?
1.3 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY The general objective of this study is to assess labor use and food security in the study area. The specific objectives are to: discuss the socioeconomic characteristics of the maize farmers in the study area, identify the different labor sources available to respondents in the study area, examine labor allocation among the maize farmers, know the food security status of the respondent, determine the factors influencing household`s food security of the farmers.
1.4 ANALYSIS OF OBJECTIVES The table 1.1 below presents the analysis of each of the objectives in terms of data requirement, sources of data, method of data collection and method of data analysis.