Since independence in 1960, the Nigerian economy had operated under two major economic philosophies with the turning point being 1986. Prior to 1986, the economy was highly regulated with government taking direct control of the “commanding heights” of the national economy. By the early 1980s, significant distortions were thought to exist in the economy with respect to pricing of tradeable items leading to sub-optimal allocation of resources in the economy. Hence, in 1986 an economic reform programme in the form of a Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) was embarked upon anchored principally on the deregulation of the economy and liberalization of trade. The targets of these measures were principally the relaxation or abolition of import licensing, tariff structure, price control, foreign exchange control and interest rates control. Reform processes such as those embarked upon in Nigeria in 1986 usually leads to “a complete re-orientation of the economy” (Olashore, 1991) and this was indeed the case in Nigeria where the deregulatory and liberalization philosophy remains the critical basis of economic policy despite the official abandonment of Structural Adjustment Programme in the 1990s. Spurred by globalization, which itself is essentially deregulation on a global level, the Nigerian economy has since remained anchored on free-trade, market mechanism and private sector orientation, the key instruments of the SAP that channeled in the reform of the economic philosophy underlining the Nigerian economy in 1986. Although the shift to economic deregulation and trade liberalization affected many sectors of the economy, its impact on the agricultural economy was one of the most acute and remarkable (Adubi, 1996; Ojo, 1994). The key features of agricultural production and the long tradition of governmental regulation of the sector became radically affected by the deregulation and liberalization philosophy with vital consequences for food security. Following over two decades of deregulatory practices, this research work reviews the strategies for food security in Oredo Locl Government Area of Edo State, Nigeria and the effects of this shift in economic philosophy on one aspect of human well being, namely, food security using trend examination and descriptive methods. The paper compares the food security status of the country before and after the adoption of deregulation as the dominant economic philosophy. It considers the lessons derivable from Nigeria’s experience and proffer suggestions in this regard.

In the recent time, there have been a lot of concerns expressed over the looming danger of food crisis in many nations, including Nigeria. The Food and Agricultural Organization, among others have been persistent in expressing these concerns for the global food crisis over the years. According to Food and Agriculture Organization, food security obtains when all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life (FAO, 1996).The main goal of food security therefore, is for individuals to be able to obtain adequate food needed at all times, and to be able to utilize the food to meet the body’s needs. Food security is multifaceted. The World Bank (2001) identified three pillars underpinning food security. These are food availability, food accessibility, and food utilization. This means that a nation whose food production level is unable to satisfy these three criteria is said to be food insecure. Supporting this assertion, Maxwell (in Nana- Sinkam 1995:111) stated that a country and its people are food secured when their food system operates in such a way as to remove the fear that there will not be enough to eat. He further stressed that food security requires that the poor and vulnerable have secure access to the food they want. The World Food Summit plan of Action (1996) states that food insecurity occurs when;

People experience a large reduction in their sources of food and are unable to make up the difference through new strategies.