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Agricultural Development In Nigeria Since Independence (Problems And Solutions)

In spite of the intense concentration on manufacturing, mining and oil sectors, it is understood by many Nigerians that agriculture remains one of the forces contributing to the surging growth of Nigeria’s economy. { Problems Of Agricultural Development In Nigeria And Possible Solutions }.

Since Nigeria’s attainment of independence, agriculture has undergone a series of development schemes –the foremost of these development schemes being that of 1962-68. This article attempts to review agricultural development in Nigeria since the independence attained in 1960. In addition to its basic purpose, this article discusses the problems of agriculture in Nigeria and provides a practical solution to each of these problems.

Stages of Agricultural Development in Nigeria Since 1960

Agricultural Development In Nigeria from 1960 to 1972

Regarded as the first national plan in Nigeria, the 1962-68 development scheme focused on the introduction of modern agricultural techniques. Meanwhile, this was achieved through an elaborate agricultural extension programme, co-operative plantations, farm settlements and supply of integrated farming tools. Amongst the other specialized development schemes formulated during this era were:

  • National Accelerated Food Production Programme (NAFPP) –a development scheme instituted in 1972
  • Farm settlement schemes

Agricultural Development In Nigeria from 1972 to 1980

The era of 1972-1980 witnessed a number of agricultural development programmes in Nigeria. Particularly, these programmes were intervention schemes launched by the Nigerian government and they were aimed at various purposes such as an increase in food production. The agricultural development schemes launched during this era included:

  • River Basin and Rural Development Authorities (launched in 1976)
  • Operation Feed the Nation –OFN (established under the Obasanjo-led military regime of 1976)
  • Green Revolution Programme (launched in 1980)
Agricultural Development In Nigeria
Agricultural Development In Nigeria

World Bank Agricultural Development Projects

Notable agricultural development schemes were financed by the World Bank within the era of 1974 to 1982. The agricultural programmes discussed earlier in this article specifically focused on the improvement of food production in Nigeria while ADPs emerged as the first notable and realistic proof of consolidated approach to the development of agriculture in Nigeria. World Bank agricultural development projects began in 1974 with three areas namely Funtua, Gusau, and Gombe. Later on –precisely in 1977 –the World Bank took the projects into two more Nigerian areas namely Ayangba and Lafia. In the years of 1979 and 1980, the projects were spread to Bida and Ilorin respectively. Also, the agricultural development projects were initiated in Ekiti-Akoko and Oyo-North in 1981 and 1982 respectively.

Today, every Nigerian State, inclusive of the FCT Abuja, maintains one ADP. Meanwhile, this achievement resulted from Nigeria’s successful consultation with the World Bank to launch ADP (Agricultural Development Project) in many States of the country.

Since the early 1960s, Nigeria has been favoured by the introduction of various research institutes. Paired with these institutes are their liaison services for agricultural extension research. Amongst others, these agricultural research institutes include:

  • International Livestock Centre for Africa ILCA
  • The International Institute of Tropical Agriculture IITA (located in Ibadan)
  • Agricultural Extension and Research stock production and fisheries production in Nigeria AERLS (located at Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria)

General Analysis of Nigeria’s Agricultural Development Since Independence

Prior to the independence attained in 1960, agriculture served as the lifeblood of Nigeria’s economy. Even in the current post-independence era, agriculture has continually played a significant role in Nigeria’s economic growth as it accounts for the biggest portion of the foreign exchange earnings generated by the country. According to economic statistics, agriculture accounted for over 70% of Nigeria’s GDP, making it the largest contributor to Nigeria’s economy around the 1960’s.

At the time, Nigeria’s agricultural earnings were generated through the exportation of commodities which were mainly cash crops like cotton, palm oil, groundnut, rubber, cashew nuts, and cocoa. Nigeria succeeded tremendously in sustaining its economy through agriculture in spite of the low prices at which agricultural products were exchanged. However, agriculture soon began to lose its grounds as Nigeria’s major source of foreign exchange earnings due to the country’s massive diversion to crude oil. Another major factor which contributed to the massive diversion from agriculture was the incidence of oil boom around the 1970s. Consequently, there was a drastic decline in the percentage contribution of agriculture to Nigeria’s economy. From the initial 63%, it reduced to 34% and this further aggravated the incidence of unemployment. According to a statement from the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Nigeria has been depending heavily on the importation of basic food staples since 1975.

Though Nigeria’s economic potentials are enormous and statistics reveal that the country holds Africa’s largest economy, agricultural productivity has witnessed a steep fall. As a consequence of this, food supply has not been favoured and instead of improving food supply through domestic production, Nigeria now depends heavily on importation of food items.

By way of recalling events from years of blossoming agriculture in Nigeria, Nigeria contributed 23% of global production of groundnut oil, 60% of palm oil supply, 25% of cocoa and 35% of groundnut. During those days, northern and southern farmers –especially those who grew cash crops –made substantial money from their efforts.

Meanwhile, some analysts have criticized the discovery of crude oil, claiming it is responsible for the drastic shift of many Nigerians, including youths, from the agricultural sector. Nowadays, it is obvious that numerous youths are drifting from rural areas to urban areas in a bid to secure white-collar jobs for themselves. In several other analyses, some people contend that the manufacturing and mining sectors have witnessed tremendous growth thereby accounting for a massive workforce at the expense of agriculture. On a simplistic note, the ever-increasing establishment of manufacturing and mining industries has discouraged many Nigerian youths from practicing agriculture.

A statement from an unspecified source claims that Nigeria has been importing palm oil in large quantities since 1976. However, in years of blossoming agriculture, Nigeria once dominated as the world’s largest producer of palm oil.

In the past, Nigeria’s agricultural sector was favoured by a number of developmental schemes which included the DFFRI (initiated during the regime of Gen. Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida), the Green Revolution programme (initiated under the administration of Alh. Shehu Shagari) and the popular OFN (Operation Feed the Nation) initiated in 1976 under Chief Olusegun Obasanjo’s military regime. According to observers, OFN (Operation Feed the Nation) was geared towards promoting agriculture particularly by increasing the number of farmers in the country. Also, it served as a significant indication reminding Nigerians of the paramount contributions of agriculture to Nigeria’s economy.

Problems of Agriculture in Nigeria and Their Solutions

  • Inadequate Supply of Mechanized Farming Equipment

Low agricultural investment by the Nigerian government has greatly impeded the development of agriculture in Nigeria. Meanwhile, one of the disadvantages it has resulted in is the inadequate provision of mechanized farming equipment to farmers. Sadly, many Nigerians are not catching up with modern agriculture because they lack heavy-powered tools such as tractors which can facilitate the adoption of automated farming and improve efficiency at large.

Solution: The Nigerian government should invest substantially in the provision of mechanized farming implements to local farmers. Not only will this facilitate agricultural production, it will also raise the standards of agriculture and encourage many youths to agriculture it as a potential source of massive wealth.

  • Shortage of Infrastructural Facilities

The infrastructural facilities needed by most Nigerian farmers to practise fruitful agriculture are not adequate in supply. These infrastructural facilities are basically social amenities which include sufficient supply of water and provision of tarred roads. Without doubts, tarred roads are needed especially in rural areas to ease the transportation of agricultural products to the market.  

Solution: The government should set up agencies that will look into the plights of rural farmers and find out the social amenities they need to make farming efficient and rewarding.

  • Poor Level of Literacy

Dozens of Nigerian farmers barely understand the basics of modern agriculture and only few farmers use mechanized farming tools as a result. This, of course, is one of the reasons why agriculture is being trivialized by many Nigerian youths.

Solution: To make agriculture an attractive profession, the Nigerian government should organize professional training schemes at which established farmers and aspiring farmers can be enlightened on the basics of farming and how modern technology can be adopted in buttressing agricultural yields.

  • Ignorance by the Government

Ignorance has been deemed one of the most crucial problems of agriculture in Nigeria and many observers see it on the part of Nigerian youths. Nevertheless, the Nigerian government should take some portion of the blame owing to its excess concentration on the oil sector at the expense of agriculture. In good times, agriculture accounted for over 70% of Nigeria’s GDP but today, its percentage contribution is far below 40%.

Solution: The Nigerian government should limit the concentration on the oil sector and make amends aimed at making agriculture Nigeria’s most contributive sector just the way it was in the early 1960s.

  • Shortage of Agricultural Loans

Even with their crude understanding of agriculture, many Nigerians –especially those in rural areas –are willing to tap into agriculture as a substantial source of livelihood. However, most of these people eventually give up their desire for agriculture because they hardly get loans required to pursue their interest in agriculture.

Solution: Government intervention is needed to ensure micro-finance banks are available to distribute sufficient loans to established farmers and intending farmers especially those in rural areas where farming is predominantly practised.

That’s all about Problems Of Agricultural Development In Nigeria Since Independence And Solutions.


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