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Agricultural Technologies And Crop Growth in Nigeria

With a population of 180 million people, Nigeria’s economy is valued at N18.3 trillion. It can be divided into oil and non-oil sectors. Nigeria heavily relies on oil revenue, but it’s mostly an agricultural society, 70% of the population practices subsistence-level farming. Farming significantly contributes to the non-oil sector.

The decline in Nigeria’s agricultural output is linked to the growth of the petroleum sector in the 1970s, leading to a shift in the labor market and reduced production of cash and food crops. Low prices for food paid by governments have made the industry unattractive, driving farmworkers to urban areas. Low productivity was caused by various factors such as poor technology, natural disasters, lack of infrastructure, and trade barriers. 

Today Nigeria’s government is prioritizing agriculture to achieve food self-sufficiency and boost exports. Modern technologies, including satellite monitoring of fields and classification of crops can help to increase farm productivity significantly. 

Agriculture in Nigeria

In Nigeria, agricultural products are divided into two categories: food crops grown for domestic consumption and cash crops sold for profit and exported overseas. Before the civil war, the country could produce sufficient amounts of food for its requirements. However, this situation altered dramatically after 1973. Cheap bread from American wheat became the preferred staple food, replacing local crops. Since then, yam production has increased from over 5 million tonnes in 1980 to 44 million in 2016.

Nigeria’s agricultural industry comprises four main sub-activities: 

  • Crop Production
  • Livestock
  • Forestry
  • Fishing

Despite the country’s heavy reliance on oil, farming of different type of crop remains a vital component of its economy. The National Bureau of Statistics reports that the agriculture sector accounts for 25% of Nigeria’s GDP, valued at N4.575 trillion. Furthermore, 70% of Nigeria’s labor force is employed in agriculture. In the past five years, agriculture, telecommunications, and services have driven Nigeria’s economic growth.

The main goals of Nigeria’s agricultural policies include:

  • Allowing the private sector to commercialize seeds by liberalizing the foundation seed policy.
  • Replacing government distribution of fertilizers with private-sector distribution.
  • Shifting from a flat fertilizer price subsidy to targeted support for smallholder farmers.

Nigerian Main Crop Types

Nigeria is a leading country in various agricultural productions, including palm oil, cocoa beans, pineapple, and sorghum. It is the second-largest sorghum producer globally after the United States and ranks fifth in palm oil and cocoa beans production. Moreover, Nigeria is a significant global exporter in this industry, identifying crops such as oil, fruits, nuts, and seeds among the top ten export categories.

Cocoa is known for its numerous health benefits. This plant thrives in regions with high temperatures, such as Nigeria and several tropical countries, with ample rainfall to facilitate its growth. 

Cocoa is produced by planting seedlings, nurtured in nurseries before being transplanted. Its cultivation is feasible on a small or large scale. Cocoa butter is made from the beans of the plant. It is then used to make chocolate. When the chocolate is ground, it becomes a popular cocoa beverage.

Maize is a prevalent food crop in Nigeria and Africa that thrives in hot climates and grows well in other non-tropical areas. It contains essential nutrients such as vitamins E, A, and C, protein, minerals, and carbohydrates.

Before the oil boom in Nigeria, cotton was a significant cash crop exported to other countries. However, due to government negligence, the cultivation and exportation of cotton have significantly decreased.

There is growing concern that cotton may become extinct without appropriate measures. It is connected to the fact that what was traditionally produced from cotton is now primarily imported. It not only affects the industry but also discourages farmers as their means of livelihood are threatened. The government is taking steps to revive cotton seed production by advising farmers on quality seeds and providing necessary inputs.

Agricultural Technologies in Nigeria

Lack of technology adoption, ineffective credit models, and lack of competitiveness hinder the agricultural industry’s diversification efforts. Experts mention a significant issue in most farms is a need for more innovation and modernized technology, including crop classification using remote sensing.

According to experts, low technology and innovation application is the primary challenge that hinders farmers’ productivity in the country. They have observed that the sector’s insufficient use of technology and the absence of innovation continue to impact cultivation areas and the ability of farmers to perform timely operations.

Farmers around the world are utilizing innovative technology to boost crop production. It includes the application of farm equipment such as machines, tractors, and drones, as well as AI technologies and the classification of field crops. Farming practices have greatly benefitted from technological advancements. Nigeria needs to prioritize enhancing the implementation of mechanization and tractors in its agricultural sector. Despite being a small country, Nigeria has a low percentage of mechanized farming. The current machinery utilization needs to meet the requirement to keep up with the growing need for food, as per the Food and Agriculture Organization’s guidelines.

2003 Nigeria was only rated at 30,000 tractors on the mechanization scale. Since then, the country has been adding 1,000 new tractors every year. However, there is still a need to replace the old, worn-out tractors.

The use of NDVI feature in crop classification and other innovations is essential for Nigeria to increase agricultural productivity. The government needs to invest in agriculture by incorporating technology to engage young people. Additionally, Nigerian farmers have been experiencing low yields compared to their peers in developed countries who utilize advanced farming equipment.

Crop Classification by EOSDA

Remote sensing is a technology that allows satellite images of fields to be acquired and utilized throughout the growing season and plant life cycle. With this technology, growers can gain valuable information and analyze conditions that affect crop yields. Valuable satellite data helps them identify sources of threats and take appropriate action against diseases, weeds, insects and extreme weather events on time. 

Remote sensing, combined with other innovative solutions, answers the question of how to identify crops. Thanks to space data, simple plant counting, condition assessment, yield loss assessment, irrigation management and much more are also available.

Today, satellite technologies are constantly improving and have become more affordable for obtaining data from the field. Using soil variability and crop type map based on remote sensing technologies has become crucial in agriculture.

EOS Data Analytics, a trusted provider of satellite imagery analytics with deep experience in building valuable software products for precision agriculture, offers a fast and easy way of crop classification with an accuracy of up to 90%. 

Drawing on expertise in the application of AI algorithms, EOSDA specialists can assign a class to each crop type recognized by the trained neural network in any AOI. Thus, customers can get a crop-type map suitable to their needs.

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