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Abstract

The Nigerian food insecurity situation is still described as appalling despite a number of efforts geared towards addressing the problem. Fundamental to the phenomenon of poverty and food insecurity in Nigeria at national, community and household levels are issues of livelihood and agro-ecological diversity. This study investigates the linkage between food poverty and livelihood activities, capabilities and assets; and socio-economic factors; and agro-ecological variations at the household level in rural Nigeria. The study makes use of nation-wide cross-sectional data of the Nigerian Living Standard Survey (NLSS). Results show that, on the whole, farming is the predominant livelihood activity. The distribution of livelihood activities clearly shows that the primary sector of livelihood activities (farming and mining - extraction) is predominantly occupied by men, while the secondary sector (manufacturing - processing) and the tertiary sector (services - trade) are quite favoured by women. Female-headed households are more food secure than their male counterpart. The main determinants of rural household food poverty in Nigeria are: livelihood activities-farming; livelihood capabilities- credit access; socio-economic factors - household size, years of formal education, marital status and age of household head; and agro-ecological variation. The study, therefore, suggests that food security policy that is agro-ecologically specific, with gender-oriented development of primary livelihood (farming) activities should be given paramount attention in the rural sector of Nigeria.

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