Editor's Choice Agriculture Viewpoint

A perspective on Nigerian agricultural system at 59

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Relative to the discovery of oil in Nigeria, Nigeria remain predominantly an agricultural society built on a substience level(me and my family). Agricultural production is crude and low, in the last decade due to lack of employment, fears of food security and people intending to become employees of labor after working for years and/or retiring,financially dependent, there has been an increase in its Agricultural operation.

Nigeria is of 6 geopolitical zones, North East,North West, Middle Belt,South West, South East,South South. Each of these regions boast of its Agricultural operations, in the South South, i can say proudly that fishing activities is high as a result of the presence of water bodies and seas where the communities go out to fish and process it by drying, though these process is quite hindered by oil exploration in the region.

According to statistics, Agriculture provided 41 percent of Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 1999. This percentage represented a normal decrease of 24.7 percent from its contribution of 65.7 percent to the GDP in 1957. The decrease will continue because, as economic development occurs, the relative size of the agricultural sector usually decreases.

According to Trading Economics

GDP From Agriculture in Nigeria increased to 3857705.59 NGN Million in the second quarter of 2019 from 3597916.08 NGN Million in the first quarter of 2019. GDP From Agriculture in Nigeria averaged 3833624 NGN Million from 2010 until 2019, reaching an all time high of 5288339.21 NGN Million in the third quarter of 2018 and a record low of 2594759.86 NGN Million in the first quarter of 2010.

Nigeria is a blessed country with agricultural resources, a large expanse of land estimated at 91 million hectares (1990) of which 81 million hectares are arable. Most parts of the country with rich soil, well distributed rainfall, not to mention the warm year-round temperatures. And 18 million hectares of land classified as permanent pasture, for livestock production. Agriculture is the main color of the Nigeria Flag (the green). It has been played progressive roles in Nigeria Economy ( 80% of the economy provision before 1956 “oil discovery”, it has rich relationship and history with our political history)

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Nigeria’s wide range of climate variations allows it to produce a variety of food and cash crops .

Cropping/Farming system produce staple food which are used for family consumption, barter system before the legal tender (Naira), foreign exchange and so many other purposes like festivals, wedding ceremonies e.t.c. the farming system produces cash and arable crops. Arable crops like cassava, yams, corn, coco-yams, cow-peas, beans, sweet potatoes, millet, plantains, bananas, rice, sorghum, and a variety of fruits and vegetables, Cash crops are kolanut cocoa, citrus, cotton, groundnuts (peanuts), palm oil, palm kernel, benniseed, and rubber. They were also Nigeria’s major exports in the 1960s and early 1970s until petroleum surpassed them in the 1970s. Chief among the export destinations for Nigerian agricultural exports are Britain, the United States, Canada, France, and Germany.

Animal Husbandry: Beef, pork, fish are the significant areas of Animal husbandry in the Agricultural sector unlike today where snails,mushroom,chicken are posing as challenge to beef and pork.Cattle herding, fishing, poultry, and lumbering contributed more than 2 percent to the GDP in the 1980s. According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization 1987 estimate, there were 12.2 million cattle, 13.2 million sheep, 26.0 million goats, 1.3 million pigs, 700,000 donkeys, 250,000 horses, and 18,000 camels, mostly in northern Nigeria, and owned mostly by rural dwellers rather than by commercial companies. Fisheries output ranged from 600,000 to 700,000 tons annually in the 1970s. Estimates indicate that the output had fallen to 120,000 tons of fish per year by 1990. This was partly due to environmental degradation and water pollution in Ogoniland and the Delta region in general by the oil companies.

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Decline in agricultural production in Nigeria began with the advent of the petroleum boom in the early 1970s. The boom in the oil sector brought about a distortion of the labor market. The distortion in turn produced adverse effects on the production levels of both food and cash crops. Governments had paid farmers low prices over the years on food for the domestic market in order to satisfy urban demands for cheap basic food products. This policy, in turn, progressively made agricultural work unattractive and enhanced the lure of the cities for farm workers. Collectively, these developments worsened the low productivity, both per unit of land and per worker, due to several factors: inadequate technology, acts of nature such as drought, poor transportation and infrastructure, and trade restrictions.

As food production could not keep pace with its increasing population, Nigeria began to import food. It also lost its status as a net exporter of such cash crops as cocoa, palm oil, and groundnuts. According to U.S. Department of State FY2001 Country Commercial Guide, Nigeria’s total food and agricultural imports are valued at approximately US$1.6 billion per year. Among the major imports from the United States are wheat, sugar, milk powder, and consumer-ready food products.


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