Date:2nd Quarter, 2009
Subject:Boosting Agricultural Productivity in Nigeria.
Agricultural sector was the mainstay of the Nigerian economy before independence, 75% of the Nigerian workforce was engaged in agriculture and immediately after it, until the oil boom of the 1970s. In the 1970s, agriculture provided the needed food for the population as well as serving as a major foreign exchange earner for the country. However, with the subsequent increase in foreign exchange earnings from crude oil trade, import of finished goods such as industrial inputs, food and services became dominant in the Nigerian economy. The Nigeria Agricultural sector was indeed rendered less competitive, overtime, through the over-valued currency, inappropriate pricing policies and deficiency of farm labour caused by the migration of the youths to the urban centres in pursuit of white colour jobs. Many factors have militated against agricultural output in Nigeria, some of which are declining arable land area per capita, erratic rainfall, and poor supply of fertilizer to resuscitate the depleted soils, low capital expenditure and poor finance resources for the farmers in form of loans.
Place of Agriculture in Nigeria.
Nigeria depends heavily on the oil industry for its revenues. It is predominantly still an agricultural society. Approximately 75% of the population engages in agriculture at a subsistence level. Agriculture provided 41% of Nigeria’s total gross domestic product (GDP) in 1999, which represents a decrease of 24.7% from its contribution of 65.7% to the GDP in 1957.
Nigeria has a wide range of climatic conditions that augurs well for cultivating a variety of food and cash crops. The food crops include cassava, yams, corn, Coco-yams. Cow-peas, beans, sweet potatoes, millet, plantain, bananas, rice, sorghum as well as variety of fruits and vegetables. The leading cash crops are cocoa, citrus, cotton, groundnuts (peanuts), palm oil, palm kernel and rubber. These were the country’s major exports in the 1960s and early 1970s. The chief export destinations for Nigerian agricultural exports are Britain, the United States, Canada, France and Germany.
A significant portion of the agricultural sector in Nigeria involves cattle herding, fishing, poultry which contributed more than 2% to the GDP in the 1980s. According to the Agricultural Organisation in 1987 estimate, there were, 12.2 Million cattle, 13.2 million sheep, 26 million goats, 1.3 million pigs, 700,000 donkeys, 250,000 horses and 18,000 camels mostly in northern Nigeria and owned by rural dwellers. Fisheries output which ranged from 600,000 to 700,000 tons annually in the 1970s had fallen to 120,000 tons. This was partly due to environmental degradation and water pollution in the Niger-Delta region by oil companies. Nigeria’s agricultural production began to decline with the advent of the petroleum boom in the early 1970s. This led to distortion is the labour market and also affected the agricultural production level of both food and cash crops.
The Government paid low prices over the years on food for the domestic market in order to satisfy urban demand for cheap basic food products and these made agriculture less attractive.
CONTRIBUTION OF AGRICULTURE TO GDP
|YEAR |GROSS DOMESTIC PRODUCT(GDP) | |1960 |60% | |1970 |25% | |1980 |24& | |1990 |41%...