A VIEW ON NIGERIA’S AGRO- ECONOMY
By Daniel Joseh November 15, 2018
It is no news that the Nigerian government have begun to invest attention and money into the countries agro business thereby inspiring fresh and leading entrepreneurs to do the same. But this certainly can’t bring the change and magic that Nigeria’s Agriculture needs at this time. In spite of the abundance of oil which accounts for 90% of our annual export, agriculture remains the base of the Nigerian economy, providing the main source of livelihood for its occupant, and needs not be shoved aside and requires more.
Agriculture in Nigeria needs innovation and expertise from all ramification of its embodiment, because looking at the current state at which the Agro- economy stands I say it is nowhere near ‘’ok’ and the problem is that it lacks a lot and suffers a lot, from Under irrigation to Limited access to credit facilities, Inadequate storage facilities and Low productivity, high cost of farm inputs, limited or no adoption of research technologies, high rate of illiteracy and inability to use advance advance tools by local farmers, to bad roads and inadequate transport. All this and many more have kept Nigeria’s agricultural productivity very low.
Nigeria is the continent’s leading consumer of rice, one of the largest producers of rice in Africa and simultaneously one of the largest rice importers in the world. As well as an important food security crop, it is an essential cash crop for it is mainly small-scale producers who commonly sell 80 per cent of total production and consume only 20 per cent. Rice generates more income for Nigerian farmers than any other cash crop in the country. In 2008, Nigeria produced approximately 2 million MT of milled rice and imported roughly 3 million metric tons, including the estimated 800,000 metric tons that is suspected to enter the country illegally on an annual basis.
Moreover, the country is the largest producer of cassava in the world, with about 50 million metric tons annually, Nigeria accounts for cassava production of up to 20 per cent of the world, about 34 per cent of Africa’s and about 46 per cent of West Africa’s. The national average yield of cassava is estimated at about 13.63 MT per ha, as against potential yield of up to 40 metric tons per ha. Close to two-thirds (66 per cent) of total production is in the southern part of the country, while about 30 per cent is in the north-central, and 4 per cent in other parts of the north. The crop is predominantly grown by smallholders on small plots for family consumption and local sale. Large scale commercial plantations are rare.
Live stock farming is also an important component of Nigeria agriculture with abundant social and economic potentials. About 60 percent of the ruminant livestock population is found in the country’s semi-arid zone and mostly managed by pastoralists. About 30 percent of live animals slaughtered in Nigeria are imported from neighbouring countries. This is because the livestock industry development is constrained by low productive breeds, inadequate access to feeds and grazing lands, frequent farmer – pastoralist conflicts, lack of processing facilities and low value addition and low technical inputs in the management of the animals, including diseases. But yet the livestock sector can create new opportunities for farmers and provide more affordable and healthier diets for future generations. Managing this growth also requires a complex institutional response that can stimulate income and employment opportunities in the rural areas, protect the livelihoods of small farmers, improve resource use efficiency at all levels of the value chain, minimize negative environmental and health consequences, and ensure adequate access by the poorer sections of society to the food they need to live healthy lives.
The government and private sector therefore need to join efforts to develop ways to enhance cassava’s competitiveness in the international market and improve the efficiency of domestic rice production, live stock farming and processing so that our Agro- economy will be able to hold a significant place in the international market.