See the Problems and Prospects of Agriculture in Nigeria. Agriculture is a way of life that involves production of animals, fishes, crops, forest resources for the consumption of man and supplying the aggro-allied product required by our sectors.
It is seen as the inherited and dominant occupation employing about 70% of Nigerians. Though, subsistence agriculture is practiced in this part of the world, it will not be an overstatement to say that it is the life-wire of the economy of our country. Agriculture remains the dominant sector in the rural areas of Nigeria.
Over the past few years, agriculture has been defined in several ways
SOURCE OF FOREIGN EXCHANGE FOR THE COUNTRY: Nigeria is an exporter of primary products. These products contribute a huge per cent of their total export earnings. The produce for agriculture can be exported and used to generate more income for the country
EMPLOYMENT: It provides employment for about 60% of the work force. Agriculture sector is also capable of reducing the country’s level of unemployment on the account that the sector is labour intensive.
PROVISION OF FOOD: Agriculture has helped in the provision of food and raw materials through development of agriculture to the Nigeria teaming population and the development of the manufacturing sector respectively. Which in turn will also discourage heavy dependence on importation.
RURAL-URBAN MIGRATION: Agriculture has also helped to curb the effect of rural-urban migration which will help to decongest the urban areas and make life easier for people both in the rural or urban area.
IMPROVED ECONOMY: Agriculture will also help the government to make more effort in developing the degrading infrastructural facilities throughout the nation in attempt to ease movement of goods from one location to the other, likewise for preservation of Agricultural output. Agriculture also contributes to economic growth by increasing the incomes of majority of the population thereby strengthening their saving capacity
INDUSTRIALIZATION: As productivity in the agriculture sector increases, surplus labour and capital is created and diverted to investment in industrial sector resulting in economic growth. This facilitates the industrialization process and eventually the transformation of the economy.
CONTRIBUTION TO NATIONAL INCOME: Agricultural prosperity in Nigeria has contributed considerably in fostering economic advancement and largely contributes to the national income.
IMPROVED INFRASTRUCTURE: The development of agriculture requires roads, market yards, storage, transportation railways, postal services and many others for an infrastructure creating demand for industrial products and the development of commercial sector.
REDUCED ECONOMIC DEPRESSION: During depression, industrial production can be stopped or reduced but agricultural production continues as it produces basic necessities of life. Thus it continues to create effective demand even during adverse conditions of the economy.
POOR GROWTH: Despite Nigeria’s rich agricultural resource endowment, however, the agricultural sector has been growing at a very low rate. Less than 50% of the country’s cultivable agricultural land is under cultivation. Even then, smallholder and traditional farmers who use rudimentary production techniques, with resultant low yields, cultivate most of this land.
CONSTRAINTS FOR SMALL-HOLD FARMERS: The smallholder farmers are constrained by many problems including those of poor access to modern inputs and credit, poor infrastructure, inadequate access to markets, land and environmental degradation, and inadequate research and extension services.
PEASANT NATURE OF PRODUCTION SYSTEM: The peasant nature in of the production system has led to low productivity and poor returns on investments.
MARKETING PROBLEM: Marketing involves getting the agricultural products from the farmers to the consumers. It helps to enlarge production by stimulating consumption, expanding the aggro-industry and facilitating industrial growth. For the marketing to play an essential role in increasing agricultural production. For marketing to be efficient, it needs efficient transportation for moving the products from where they are produced to where they are consumed. The majority of Nigerian rural roads are in very deplorable conditions.
STORAGE AND PROCESSING: There is need for safe and efficient storage system to ensure continuous supply of agricultural commodities in the market. This is very inadequate and ineffective. Storage and processing are critical in ensuring that the commodities produced at a particular period are available for consumption whenever and wherever they are required. A significant quantity of products harvested in Nigeria perishes due to lack of storage and processing facilities.
INFRASTRUCTURAL INADEQUACIES: This includes physical infrastructure, such as roads and railway system, educational and health facilities, social services such as potable water and electricity and communication system. Agricultural performance in Nigeria is greatly impaired by the low level of development of infrastructure.
IGNORANCE: In Nigeria today, Agriculture is still greatly undermined and looked at as an odd job that is only meant for the illiterates. This has blinded the eyes of so many Nigerians and as a result they do not know the value of agriculture in the country and in their own lives as individuals.
PRIMITIVE TOOLS: An average Nigerian farmer still makes use of primitive farm tools like hoes, cutlass etc. this constitutes a major setback to the development of agriculture in the country.
DISORGANIZATION & UNACCOUNTABILITY: Majority of farms in Nigeria lack organization and as a result there are no adequate records. Some farmers farm without any sort of farm records to account for possible reasons behind their agricultural gains or losses.
INDUSTRIALIZATION & PRIVATIZATION: Privatization of food and agriculture into big and expensive industry is one contributor to the setbacks of agriculture in the country. Privatization has led to an uneven distribution of food and is also very expensive and uneconomical.
Technical constraint in Nigeria affects both the upstream and the downstream segments of agriculture. The constraint manifests in poor technology, poor quality of raw materials and inadequate supply of modern inputs. The main causes of the constraint include low support from government, poor government policy, poverty, low level of awareness, lack of adequate research and increases in the prices of inputs.