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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). Food accounts for a substantial part of the typical Nigerian household budget. Various foods serve as important vehicles for taking nutrients into the body and bringing about a healthy state, hence the need for taken, there classes, of essential nutrients, which must be combined in appropriate proportion to ensure an adequate food intake. These include: carbohydrates, proteins, fats and oil, vitamins and minerals (Omonona, Agoi and Adetokunbo, 2007). The need for food is topmost in the hierarchy of needs as it is essential for healthy living. Thus, achievement of food security is important in any given country.

Africa with its vast land area covering 3 billion ha has 1.3 billion ha of agricultural land out of which only 252 million ha (19.36%) is arable (FAO, 2011). Africa is the center of origin and also a major producer of several cereals like sorghum, pearl millet, finger millet, teff, African rice and maize. Maize has overtaken these traditional cereals. In Africa, it is grown over an area of 34.08 million ha producing 70.08 million tons (FAO, 2015). Maize is a major staple crop in diverse agro-ecological zones and farming systems, and consumed by people with varying food preferences and socio-economic backgrounds. Of the 22 countries in the world where maize forms the highest percentage of calorie intake in the national diet, are in Africa. Maize accounts for almost

The final report of the 1996 World Food Summit states that food security exists when all people, at all times, have physical, social and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active healthy life.It is a condition related to the supply of food, and individuals’ access to it.A farming household is therefore, adjudged food secure when the trio of food availability, food accessibility and food affordability is guaranteed in the required quantity and quality (World Bank, 2001). At the 1974 World Food Conference the term “food security” was defined with emphasis on supply. Food security, they said, is the “availability at times of adequate world food supplies of basic foodstuffs to sustain a steady expansion of food consumption and to offset fluctuations in production and prices”.  It is also a situation that exists when all the people, at all times, have physical, social and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food that meets their dietary food preferences for an active and healthy life (UNFAO, 2001).

The WHO states that there are three pillars that determine food security: food availability, food access, and food use. The FAO adds a fourth pillar: the stability of the first three dimension of food security over time. In 2009, the world summit on Food Security stated that the “four pillars of food security are availability, access, utilization and stability.

Food availability means that enough safe and nutritious food either domestically produced or imported from the international market. Food availability does not ensure food accessibility. For food to be accessible individuals or families must have sufficient purchasing power or ability to acquire quality food at all times the utilization demands sufficient quality and quantity intake (Omonona et. al, 2007). These elements availability, accessibility and utilization in a larger context, embraces the supply, demand and adequacy of food at all times.

Food insecurity, is a situation of "limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate and safe foods or limited or uncertain ability to acquire acceptable foods in socially acceptable ways", according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Mohammed (2003) noted that food insecurity exists when there is physical unavailability of food, lack of social and economic access to adequate food/or inadequate food utilization. Food insecure households are households whose food intake falls below their minimum calorie (energy) requirements, and those who exhibit physical symptoms caused by nutrient deficiencies resulting from inadequate diets. The dimensions of food security make it clear that the concept of food problem is a complex one with many dimensions. At one level, the concern is with national food security, which is the ability of countries to produce or increase sufficient food all the year to meet their requirement for both private and public 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 smallholder 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% [1] 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).


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 roof-tops 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?


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.


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.







Discuss the socioeconomic characteristics of the maize farmers in the study area

Primary data

The use of a well-structured questionnaire

Household size, age of the household head, marital status,  level of education, etc.

Descriptive data (frequency, percentage, mean mode)

Identify the  different labor sources available to respondents  in the study area

Primary data

The use of a well-structured questionnaire

Type of labor used by the respondent

Descriptive data (frequency, percentage, mean mode)

Examine labor allocation among the maize farmers

Primary data

The use of a well-structured questionnaire

Know the food security status of the respondent

Primary data

The use of a well-structured questionnaire

Household per capita food expenditure, educational status, average monthly income, household size, age, etc

Regression analysis (probit model)

Determine the factors influencing household`s food security of the farmers

Primary data

The use of a well-structured questionnaire

Socio-economic characteristics’ such as educational status of household head, marital status of household head, age of the household head, household size, etc.

Regression analysis (probit model)


Today, maize ranks highly as a major staple food particularly for the low income earners and resource poor farm households in developing economies of sub-Saharan Africa (FAO, 2009). Maize serves over 200 million Africans; its comparative production advantage over other staples serves to encourage its cultivation even by resource that there obsolete (Bamidele et al., 2008; FAO, 2000). However, it is an important source of carbohydrate, protein, iron, vitamin B, and minerals. Furthermore, Green maize (fresh on the cob) is eaten parched, baked, roasted or boiled; playing an important role in filling the hunger gap after the dry season and serving as a staple diet for 200 million people (Directorate Agricultural Information Services in cooperation with ARC-Grain Crop Institute, 2003), while in developed countries, maize is consumed as second-cycle produce in the form of meat, eggs and dairy products. The importance of maize cannot be overemphasized, with Nigeria producing 43% of maize grown in West Africa. Maize is the most important staple food in Nigeria. It accounts for about 43% of calorie intake (Nweke et al., 1983; NARP, 1994). Maize has consumption quantity of 53.20 g/capital/day (FAOSTAT, 2007). Furthermore, the average annual per capita maize output for 2005-2014 is 105kg (NBS, 2015), while the per capita maize consumption is 175kg (FAO STAT, 2015). As a result, maize has received substantial research and extension attention. This generally also calls for the need to intensify effort on adoption of improved agricultural technologies for improved productivity and ensure food security. Even though several adoption studies explored technology adoption decision in developing countries like Nigeria (Feder et al., 1985; Rauniya and Goode, 1992; Ouma et al., 2006; Ojaiko et al., 2007; Idrisa, 2009), the studies fall short of addressing the effect of adoption of improved seed technology on food security status of farming households.

World Food Program (WFP) (2013) reported that about 842 million people (one in every eight) across the world suffer chronic hunger. Almost all the hungry people live in the rural areas of developing countries, and belong to mostly farming families and represent about 15% of the population of such countries (Hunger Notes, 2013). Fakiyesi (2001) reported that 66% of Nigerians live below poverty line when judged by level of food security. Also, over 40% of the Nigerian population was found to be food insecure in 2005 (Sanusi et. al., 2006).

Agricultural production in Nigeria though the mainstay of the economy, still rests largely on the shoulders of small-scale, resources-poor farmers who inhabit the rural areas of the country. It is heavily labor intensive with farmers relying on households for labor and supply. Gocowski and Oduwole (2003) confirmed labor as a major constraint to peasant agricultural production in Nigeria especially during planting, weeding and harvesting.

Human labor is about the only form of farm labor available to small holder farmers in Southwest of Nigeria. This form of labor accounts for up to 80% of total farm power and constitute between 80 and 90% of the cost of production in many farming systems (Awoyemi, 1981; Dvorak, 1996).

Generally, the scarcity of farm labor has be found to have negative impact on planting precision, better weed control, timely harvesting and crop processing (Oluyole et. al., 2011). However, noted that labor is a major constraint in peasant production especially during planting, weeding and harvesting. Also, observed that rapid growth in population which increases farm labor supply exerts so much pressure on land and reduces farm size per hectare. Empirical evidence have shown that available farm labor forces comprised mostly of old people (to the exclusion of young men and women within the active working age) therefore having negative effect on agricultural productivity (Oluyole & Lawal, 2010). The increasing absence of young people in framing could attribute to farm drudgery, poor farm income, rural-urban migration, food insecurity as well as generally lowlife expectancy in rural areas (Gill, 1991).

Labor supply from family level has been dwindling considerably over the past years due to a number of factors, some of which are related. The achievement of international labor organization in child labor prevention coupled with the increasing awareness of importance of education even in the rural areas has increased the proportion of children in schools hence reducing time available to work on the farm (Diallo et. al., 2013). Rural-urban migration leaving mainly the aged and less mobile farmers to work on the farms as stated by (Oluyole et. al., 2013), low income, hunger and poor nutrition has also negatively affected the availability of labor on the farm. Also, vulnerable households such as women headed or orphaned households are usually unduly disadvantaged on labor availability and productivity (Babatunde et. al., 2008).

The general notion and idea of food security will continue to be a recalling one, as it affects the wellbeing of the world population. Rural farmers in particular will consistently feature, as their involvement in food availability is on the increasing side. Accordingly, the information contained in this study is expected to provide some vital information regarding the specific ways rural farmers contribute to household food security in Egbeda, Oyo state. Moreover, the government and its agents, Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), welfare planners, fellow researchers, and the general public will find this work as an invaluable source of reference.

There is a possibility therefore that agricultural productivity in Nigeria may be limited as a result of poor use of labor which affects food security. It is therefore important to examine the relationship between labor, agricultural productivity and food security.


This study is divided into five chapters. Chapter one the introductory chapter, chapter two contains the reviewed literature, chapter three discusses in details the research methodology which seeks to explain the plan and approach for executing the research work. It covers the description of the study area, sampling procedure, method of data collection, measurement of variables, method of data analysis and limitations of the study. Chapter four discusses the empirical results and chapter five concludes and summarizes the findings of the research study. It includes policy recommendations.

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