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Ndokwa Vanguard

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AGRICULTURE IN NIGERIA

Jul 12, 2023

Agriculture is the art and science of cultivating the soil, growing crops and raising livestock. It includes the preparation of plant and animal products for people to use and their distribution to markets.

Agriculture provides most of the world’s food and fabrics. Cotton, wool and leather are all agricultural products. Agriculture also provides wood for construction and paper products.

Major crops include beans, rice, sesame, cashew nuts, cassava, cocoa beans, groundnuts, gum arabic, kolanut, cocoa, maize (corn), melon, millet, palm kernels, palm oil, plantains, rice, rubber, sorghum, soy beans, bananas and yams.

Agricultural Science:
In the early 1900s an average farmer in the U.S produced enough food to feed a family of five. Many of today’s farmers can feed that family and a hundred other people. How did this great leap in productivity come about? It happened largely because of scientific advances and the development of new sources of power. This therefore became a period in which science was linked with farming.

Evolution of Agriculture:
By the late 1950s most farmers in developed countries were using both gasoline and electricity to power cultivation and livestock management and also the emergence of Hydroponics which is the science of growing plants in nutrient solutions. Just one acre of nutrient solution can yield more than 50 times the amount of lettuce grown on the same amount of soil.

Genetic modification in the sense that, for centuries, people have bred new types of plants and animals by random experimentation. During the 1960s, scientists developed new strains of high yield wheat and rice. They introduced them into Mexico and parts of Asia. As a result, production of grain soared in these areas. This bold experiment in agriculture has been called the ‘Green Revolution’ .

The new, high production crops also put stress on native plants and animals. Later scientists and farmers understood why the new strains developed. This gave rise to a new green revolution: genetic modification of food. Leading to the study of what characteristics organism inherit and how these traits are transmitted.

The new technology revolutionized the selective breeding process in both plants and animals. Beginning in the 1970s, scientists found that they could rearrange genes and add new ones to promote disease resistance, productivity and other desired characteristics in crops and livestock. These genetically modified organisms (GMOs or GM foods) are now common through on the developed world.

A gene from an Artic plant for example, could be added (spliced) into the DNA of a strawberry plant to increase the strawberry’s resistance to cold and thus extend it’s growing season. The strawberry would be a transgenic plant. Bio-technology has brought advances in animal husbandry (ranching, or the raising of domestic animals). Today’s farm animals are larger and grow faster than their ancestors. It is pertinent to note that evolution of agriculture was necessitated by the increased needs of agricultural products due growing population by masses.

Organic vs Conventional Farming. Organic agriculture is a production system that regenerates the health of soils, eco system and people. Organic farmers rely on natural processes, bio diversity and cycles of adaptation to local conditions rather than the use of synthetic inputs like chemical fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides. GMOs are not allowed in Organic agriculture.

While Conventional farming relies on chemical intervention to fight pests and weeds and provide plant nutrition. This means synthetic pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers. Organic farming relies on natural principles like bio diversity and composting instead to produce healthy, abundant food. It applies techniques first used thousands of years ago such as crop rotation system and the use of composted animal manures and green manure crop, in way that are economically sustainable in today’s world.

Organic farming has a smaller carbon footprint, conserves and builds soil health, replenishes natural ecosystems for cleaner water and air all without toxic pesticide residues. While conventional agricultural causes increased green house gas emissions, soil erosion, water pollution and threaten human health.

Agricultural Problems and Solutions in Nigeria:

  • Poverty- In Nigeria, the small scale farmers, who constitute the largest percentage of the farming population, are seriously threatened by the problems of rural poverty and neglect. Poverty contributes to poor agricultural productivity as many rural farmers in Nigeria cannot afford to purchase the necessary farm inputs such as fertilizers, pesticides and improved seeds, which would bring about increased productivity that can lift them out of poverty.

Solution- Government and non- governmental agencies are implored to subsidize cost of agricultural inputs that’s seeds, fertilizers and so on and also fuel price to reduce cost of transportation for farm products.

*Gender and age-
Agriculture and farming is a male dominated activity in Nigeria. This is due to both cultural and religious beliefs that restrict the activities of women to domestic chores. The male domination of of farming may in turn also be due to high demands for time and efforts required to work in such enterprises. Also, the majority (86%) of farmers in Nigeria are within the middle age group of 26-54 years. This is within the ages defined as economically productive in population that is 15-64 years. About 14% were aged more than 54 years. The house hold is also the major source of farm labour in small scale agriculture, though most farm operations in the study area are gender specific. The contributes of women cannot be overemphasized especially during harvesting threshing, winnowing and bagging.


Solution- Efforts must be made to encourage more women to participate in agriculture jobs and agriculture value chain. This can be done via sensitization campaigns to encourage both rural and urban women to pursue agricultural ventures.

Also, special grants and financial incentives should be directed to female agricultural enterprises in order to ensure that Nigeria benefits from the skill and intelligence that women can contribute to the economy.

*Education- Illiteracy is one of the factors militating against agricultural development in Nigeria. Research shows that, majority of the farmers in Nigeria don’t have formal education, only about 17% and 13% have primary and secondary education respectively. In all, about 8% have tertiary education. In developed countries, all the farmers had one form of education or the other, thus the level of literacy is high and an educated farmers will be able to handle instruction manuals on inputs and machinery uses. The implication is that the prospects for the acceptance of innovations are reasonably high when farming have formal education.

Solution- Efforts should be made to ensure that rural dwellers get free or very affordable basic education. This will make it easier for them to learn about advanced farming practices that improve efficiency. Also, continuous learning, via agriculture extension services, online classes and training seminars, is important for players in the agricultural sector to that they are currently deploying the best practices on their farms and agri businesses.

*Access to Land-
With the land use decree of 1978, one would have thought that land acquisition was through government efforts. However, findings shows that land does not necessarily belongs to government as 86% of Nigerian farmers acquired their land through inheritance. Other major sources of land acquisition were through purchase; about 26% purchased their land or farms outrightly, while 6% were renting the land. Some of the large scale farmers, about 24% purchase a portion of their land holdings in addition to inherited parcels. The reason is that of financial constraints which prevented them (the small scale farmers) from expanding their holdings. The pressure from increased population growth which make farm lands become smaller is a good reason for the need to add to inherited parcels of land to meet the desired level of farm size by farmers.

Solution- Government should make it easier for farmers to access lands for starting and expanding their farms. Farmers who’ve proven their efficiency should be given lands to rent at very reduced cost with the option of purchasing such lands at very reduced costs over a period of time. Also individuals and organizations who have unused lands should partner with farmers who would farm their until such a time when the lands are ready for their original purposes.

*Lack of Access to Improve Seeds and Seedlings- Majority of Nigerian farmers do not have access to improved and dressed seeds, which imply low quality and undue exposure to fungal attacks and consequently a possible reduction in economic yield.

Most small holder farmers use seed from the previous season harvest which are often not treated before planting. These planted seeds are prone to pest and diseases attack resulting in low germination percentage. To overcome this problem farmers plant more seeds in anticipation of getting high germination percentage, more often farmers seem not to pay attention to the quantity of seed planted, just because seedlings would be thinned, most times thinning are delayed beyond three weeks after germination which imply low quality and undue exposure to fungal attacks and consequently a possible reduction in economic yield.

Solution- The reason given for low fertilizer usage and seed dressing chemicals was unavailability and high cost of those inputs.

*Climate Change-
Climate change is a significant change in statistical distribution of weather patterns over long period of time.
Declining rainfall and increased climate change through frequent flooding, drought increasing temperature and increasing salinity of water used for irrigation has become a recurrent challenges facing agricultural production not only in Nigeria but globally. For this reason the United National Framework on Climate Change (UNFCC) was opened to signature in June 1992 to address the issue. Nigeria was among the 15 countries that signed the convention in August 1994.

Challenge of climate change and global warming raises great concern in Nigeria due to wide spread of gas flaring, incomplete burnt hydrocarbons, emission of uninstalled gas into the atmosphere and improper disposal of industrial chemical wastes.

Though climate change is a threat to almost all the sectors of Nigerian economy agricultural production activities are most vulnerable to climate change than others sectors. One of the main concerns is the risk it poses to food production in developing countries like Nigeria due to heavily reliance on Agriculture.

The climate change on agriculture in Nigeria is by extension affecting key developmental issues such as food security as a result of reduction in crop output, industrial raw materials shortage, decreased foreign exchange earnings. Food insecurity related diseases are likely to emerge at a rapid pace due to the changes in climate change on agricultural systems include: changes in rainfall and temperatures which could impact on ago- climatic conditions, altering growing seasons, planting and harvesting calendars, water availability, pest, weed and disease population.

Another climate change concern is the acid rains that are prevalent in the Nigeria Delta region of the country triggered by emission through oil producing companies
which in turn influence the kind of rains down pour.

Solution- The government needs to address man made causes of climate change. While the farmers need to embrace climate – smart farming methods especially conservative agriculture.

Importance of Agriculture in Nigeria:
*Food Security-

The main policy thrust of the latest agricultural policy of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) is to achieve food security.
Food security is simply the ability of a country or population to produce it’s foods and consumables without having to import food.

The step taken by the federal government to ban the important of rice some years ago was aimed at increased local production of this staple food, as a part of the measures to achieve food security.

No country can be food secured without a concrete agricultural development plan.

*Creation of Jobs-
With the ever increasing number of unemployed and under employed people in Nigeria, agriculture has what it takes to absorb a very high percentage of these jobless people in both on farm productions and along the value addition chain such as storage, processing, packaging, marketing and distribution.

Many agri businesses abound and the juices reality of these businesses is the rather small capital that is needed to start and run them.

*Provision of raw materials for agro-allied industries-
Agro-allied industries and firms are such that utilize agricultural products as raw materials make them into the finished products which they sell.
Firms that produce leather bags, belts and shoes, for instance are agro-allied because they use animal hides, skins and fur for production. Agriculture is therefore, what in the market through a constant supply of the needed raw materials for production.

*Diversification of the economy-
The Nigerian economy rests on oil explorations and the recent price fluctuations of oil due to the discovery of healthier and more eco-friendly alternatives for power rather than fossil fuels are biting hard on our economy.

It is for this reason that the government is encouraging everyone to make investments in agriculture while giving incentives to investors and farmers such as lower tax rates and duty free importation of agricultural machinery.
Considering how well our economy fared before the oil boom, it is not disputable that agriculture has what it takes to keep our economy from sinking.

*Source of Foreign Exchange-
The export of cash crops such as cocoa, tobacco, rubber etc is a very vital source of foreign exchange which has a high potential of making the Nigerian economy more vibrant.
It is for the reason that the colonial masters invested a lot in the production of these crops. If more is done to meet exportation standards of these cash crops, Nigeria and indeed Nigerians have alot to gain from its returns.

It is pertinent to note that the father of Agric is an Indian named MS Swaminathan during the ‘Green Revolution’ in India.

In Nigeria, former president Muhammadu Buhari, on Thursday 25th May, 2023 approved the appointment of Garzalu Muhammed Abubakar the Executive Secretary of the National Agricultural Development Fund. While the Federal Minister of Agriculture is Mohammad Mahmood Abubakar.

Between January and March 2021, agriculture contributed to 22.35 percent of the total Gross domestic product according to statistics.
In conclusion agriculture can help reduce poverty, raise incomes and improve food security for 80% of the world’s poor, who live in rural areas and work sources of raw materials for business in Nigeria, including cotton and jute fabric, sugar, tobacco and edible and non-edible oils. Industries need agricultural raw materials for the production of a particular product. Therefore we as Nigerians whether high influential elites in the government or common masses must strive with our possible best to ensure the improved sustainance of the agricultural sector for the betterment of all and sundry.

By OMOWHO FAITH OGHENEMARHO

LAW student, Delta State University, Oleh Campus.

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