Agriculture: The future is always here

In Nigeria, there are three major sectors that contribute to the country’s economy, which are petroleum/oil, manufacturing and agriculture. The agriculture sector is then divided into crop production, forestry, livestock and fishing. The petroleum sector is the largest source of public revenue and of the foreign exchange earnings for the country.

Nigeria is endowed with lots of natural and human resources with a large expanse of fertile land. Nigeria’s diverse climate, from the tropical areas of the coast to the arid zone of the north, make it possible to produce virtually all agricultural products that can be grown in the tropical and semitropical areas of the world. The economic benefits of large-scale agriculture are recognised, and the government favors the formation of cooperative societies and settlements to encourage industrial agriculture. Large-scale agriculture, however, is not common. Low agricultural productivity in Nigeria is due to a wide variety of factors including poor soil quality caused by pollution, erosion and leaching, the negative impact of climate change on weather patterns, the scarcity and high cost of inputs, and outdated farming practices. Poor agricultural output and widespread poverty has resulted in extensive and persistent food insecurity with some studies showing that as many as 70 per cent of Nigerians is food insecure.

The Nigerian government initiated lots of policy and programmes aimed at restoring the country’s agricultural sector to its pride. The sector used to be one of the pillars of the country’s economy and this was achieved in a sustainable way. The huge potential of investment and export diversification in order to get the Nigerian agricultural sector to add to the economy as it did in the 1960s have remained locked and untapped, because of a number of constraints that must be addressed.

Nigeria lacks policy guidelines on how to diversify; and policymakers have limited understanding of why diversification is important. Economic diversification is vital to Nigeria’s long-term economic growth.  To achieve its ambitious economic transformation, the government should identify its distinctive or unique economic resources. It should be noted that mere recognition of a natural resource is meaningless. Therefore, in order to achieve long-term agricultural growth, the government needs to sustain and scale up agricultural exports and also boost productivity in food to meet rising local demands, while developing a viable local agro-industry.

 

Lanre Akinbo, Lagos.

 

 

 

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