There are several issues today exerting pressure on the food system in Nigeria and in Africa at large. These issues range from wars to inflation, biodiversity loss, climate change, industrialization, and colonialism. These issues, now more than ever, call for a favourable and coherent food policy that provides consumers the right to good food in Nigeria; farmers the right to a healthy and sustainable farming system, and to a great extent, the framework on how our food systems can be more resilient, healthy, economically and culturally viable. Achieving a society with informed citizens who choose local and healthy food is imperative. This research was undertaken in order to gather data and reorient citizens of Africa, including Nigeria, on the importance of appropriate food production and consumption systems.
The study adopted the participatory action research method and consumer survey to gain first-hand insights into local experiences, using qualitative and quantitative tools (a mixed-method approach). Stakeholders in the six geopolitical zones (North-central, North-east, North-west, South-east, South-south, and South-west) in Nigeria were engaged in the study.
The study highlights the available and diverse indigenous foods across the zones including fruits and leafy vegetables, cereals/grains, roots and tubers, and spices. It highlights the importance of indigenous foods as well as current threats to local food systems and makes recommendations on how to preserve our food heritage.
It was deduced that despite the differences in the types and varieties of indigenous foods found in different localities or cultures in Nigeria, citizens have good attitude and behavioural patterns on consumption of their local foods. Almost all the participants preferred their local or indigenous foods. Participants’ preference for local food consumption was influenced by availability, taste and aroma, affordability, preservation, culture and tradition, and ease of cooking. The benefits of producing and consuming indigenous foods as highlighted by the participants included health benefits, high nutrition of foods, medicinal value, availability of seeds, affordability, and better shelf life.
Some of these local foods, however, are getting eroded due to various challenges.
Learn more about the Nigerian local diets, emerging threats to these and the relevance of preserving our indigenous food systems across Africa and the world- download and read the full report here: