For many years scientific research and commercial enterprise have concentrated on export crops, while locally consumed foods have received little attention. Yet the future welfare of the country and its capacity to support an increasing population depend largely on increased production of foodstuffs for local consumption.
Food production is largely on a subsistence basis; only a small proportion of the vegetable food grown enters into trade beyond the village markets. The collection of wild vegetable produce has been important in the past, but will probably give way to a greater dependence on cultivated foods as development progresses.
Average food consumption in Nigeria compares favorably with that in many other underdeveloped countries although it is unsatisfactory by European or North American standards. Since only a small proportion of arable land is under cultivation, gross food shortage will not be a problem for some time to come. In some areas, however, particularly in the Eastern Region, population pressures have become serious in recent years, leading to disregard of traditional fallow methods; soils are being exhausted and yields lowered. In the North, the high variability of seasonal rainfall causes alternating periods of abundance and scarcity; this situation is aggravated in the Middle Belt by failure to employ proper storage, techniques.
Comprehensive data on nutrition are not available. From production figures, however, and some studies of diets in particular areas,1 a____________________