Contribution of Agriculture to the Nigeria Economy

Many Nigerian women process cassava for a living. Photo by International Institute of Tropical Agriculture.

Photo by International Institute of Tropical Agriculture.

Nigeria faces serious poverty challenges. Two out of every three Nigerians live below the poverty line of $1 per day in income. Poverty in Nigeria is concentrated in rural areas, which are home to more than 70 percent of the nation’s poor. Development indicators for rural areas lag behind those for urban areas: incomes are lower, infant mortality rates are higher, life expectancy is shorter, illiteracy is more widespread, malnutrition is more prevalent, and greater proportions of people lack access to clean water and improved sanitation services.

For the foreseeable future, the welfare of rural populations in Nigeria will be tied to agriculture. Agriculture is the backbone of the rural economy, generating about 35 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) and providing by far the largest source of rural employment. Growth in Nigeria’s agricultural sector, while better than the growth achieved in many other African countries, has fallen short of expectations. Value added per capital in agriculture has risen by less than 1 percent per year for the past 20 years, and food production gains have not kept pace with population growth, resulting in rising food imports and declining levels of national food self-sufficiency.

Blessed with abundant land and water resources, Nigeria’s agricultural sector has a high potential for growth, but this potential has not been properly harnessed. Productivity is low and basically stagnant. Farming systems, which are mostly small in scale, are still predominantly subsistence-based and for the most part depend on the vagaries of the weather. The country’s vast irrigation potential remains largely unexploited. Most farmers produce mainly food crops using traditional extensive cultivation methods, while commercial agriculture based on modern technologies and purchased inputs remains underdeveloped.

The capacity of the agricultural research system has eroded in recent years, as has that of the extension service, so, even when improved technologies are available, often they fail to reach farmers. Farmers’ lack of technical knowledge is compounded by deficiencies in input distribution systems, which limit the timely availability of improved seed, fertilizer, crop chemicals, and machinery. Where inputs are available, farmers’ ability to use them is often compromised by a lack of credit, because rural financial institutions are in general poorly developed. Farmers who produce surpluses frequently lack access to reliable markets, and the high cost of transporting produce to distant buying points over bad rural roads reduces their competitiveness. These are some of the challenges the agricultural sector of the country have had to face overtime. It is not enough to identify the problem, we must provide a solution.

Article by: SCOTTS FARMS

Scott Farms Nigeria
2nd Floor, Providence House, Admiralty Way (Beside Tantalizers),
Lekki Phase 1,
Lagos, Nigeria.
+234 (0) 1 295 6050

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