The History of Agriculture in Nigeria from the Colonial Era to the Present Day

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THE HISTORY OF AGRICULTURE IN NIGERIA FROM THE COLONIAL ERA TO THE PRESENT DAY The agricultural history of Nigeria is intertwined with its political history. This is discussed broadly in the context of the varying constitutional frame works, viz: Colonial, the Internal Self Government and the Post-1960 periods, according to sectors. Crop Production: The period of the colonial administration in Nigeria, 1861-1960, was punctuated by rather ad hoc attention to agricultural development. During the era, considerable emphasis was placed on research and extension services. The first notable activity of the era was the establishment of a botanical research station in Lagos by Sir Claude Mcdonald in 1893. This was followed by the acquisition of 10.4 kms of land in 1899 by the British Cotton Growing Association (BCGA) for experimental work on cotton and named the experimental area Moor Plantation in lbadan. In 1912, a Department of Agriculture was established in each of the then Southern and Northern Nigeria, but the activities of the Department were virtually suspended between 1913 and 1921 as a result of the First World War and its aftermath. From the early 1920s to the mid 1930s, there was a resurgence of activities and this period has been called the 'Faulkner Strip Layout' era in honour of the Director of Agriculture, Mr. 0.T. Faulkner, who devised a statistical design for experimental trials in green manuring, fertiliser projects, rotational cropping systems and livestock feeding. From the late 1930s to the mid-1940s, there were significant intensification and expansion of research activities, and extension and training programmes of the Agricultural Departments. Additional facilities for training of junior staff in agriculture were provided, as well as scholarships for agricultural students in Yaba Higher College and Imperial College of Tropical Agriculture in Trinidad.

The intensification of hostilities during the Second World War (1939-45) led to the slowing down of activities and the call to Departments of Agriculture to play increasing roles in the production of food for the army and civilians in the country and the Empire. Production of export crops like palm products and rubber which could not be obtained from Malaysia as a result of Japanese war activities in South-East Asia, and such food items as sugar, wheat, milk, eggs, vegetables, Irish potatoes and rice whose importation was prevented by naval blockade of the high seas increased. A special production section of the Department of Agriculture was set up to deal with the situation. On the research side, attention was devoted largely to the possibilities of evolving permanent systems of agriculture that were capable of replacing rotational bush-fallowing systems prevalent in the country and realising the promises of mixed farming in the north. During this period, the WAIFOR (West African Institute for Oil Palm Research) in Benin was start ed and the research on cocoa was intensified at Moor Plantation, Owena near Ondo and at Onigambari near lbadan.Achievements of the period include the development of 'Alien Cotton' in the south; rice cultiva- tion in the Sokoto, Niger, llorin, Abeokuta Colony and Ondo provinces; the introduction of wheat cultivation in the more northern parts of the northern provinces; the expansion of production of such export crops as cocoa, oil palm and groundnut; development of agricultural implements as well as designing farm buildings; intensification of horticultural activities; the development of a marketing sec tion of the Department; the extension of the Produce Inspection Service to cover all principal export crops; investigations into the possibilities for organised land settlement schemes; and investigations into the possibilities of irrigation in northern Nigeria.

The period of Internal Self Government, 1951 60. began with the reaionalisation of the Departments of Agriculture in 1951, with a Director and an Inspector-General of...
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