In this article, we take a look at some of the constraints to agricultural development in Nigeria. In other words, the aim of the article is to examine the problems, challenges of agriculture in Nigeria. Furthermore, we consider some possible solutions that will help increase agricultural productivity in Nigeria.
The term ‘agriculture’ refers to the cultivation of plants and husbandry of animals to produce goods and services for the people. Agriculture includes farming; ranching; aquaculture; animal husbandry, including, but not limited to, the care and raising of livestock, equine, and fur-bearing animals; poultry husbandry and the production of poultry and poultry products; dairy production; the production of field crops, tobacco, fruits, vegetables, etc; the processing, drying, storage, and marketing of agricultural products.
Agriculture provides for basic human food and fiber needs, and enhances the quality of life of the society.
In this section, we highlight the problems/constraints of agriculture in Nigeria.
Here, infrastructure include physical infrastructure, such as roads and railway system, educational and health facilities, social services such as potable water and electricity and communication system.
Agricultural productivity in Nigeria is impaired greatly by the poor state of infrastructure. In the rural areas where majority of the smallholders operate, inadequate infrastructure constitutes a major constraint to agricultural production.
The Infrastructure problem has persisted due to government neglect, poor leadership, bad governance, poor maintenance culture, and poor funding.
The process of marketing involves getting the agricultural products from the farmers to the consumers. It increases production by stimulating consumption, and facilitating industrial growth.
For the marketing to play a vital role in increasing agricultural production, an efficient network of road is needed to aid transportation of the products from where they are produced to where they are consumed. Unfortunately, the majority of Nigerian roads (especially rural) are in deplorable conditions.
Furthermore, due to inadequate storage facilities, heavy post harvest losses occur, especially in tines of bumper harvests.
The lack of adequate storage and processing facilities is responsible for discrepancies between national food security and household food security. This is because even if the total production of food seems adequate at the aggregate level, it fails to improve food security significantly unless the food is available for consumption at the right time and in the right form.
Storage and processing ensure that the commodities produced at a particular period are available for consumption whenever and wherever they are required.
Cost effective and efficient technologies for perishables, such as roots, tubers, fruits and vegetables, are not as highly developed in Nigeria compared to the storage technologies for cereal grains and legumes. As a result, post-harvest food storage losses are very high, compared to cereal grains.
Traditional storage facilities have certain deficiencies, and across geo-ecological zones, most farmers store only a portion of their crops for consumption. They sell part of their crop early to get cash to settle their immediate financial needs.
Generally, a major problem inhibiting investment in agriculture is the escalating cost of major farm inputs.
Average prices of major farm inputs such as hoe, matchet, sprayer, tractor, and agro-chemicals have been rising over the years. This has a tendency to cause high factor cost to the farmers cultivating agricultural crops; thus worsening the rising cost of production.
Since agriculture in Nigeria is mainly unmechanized, human labor is vital in all production systems, accounting for about 90 per cent of all farm operations. Although farming is largely labor-intensive, farmers, generally often experience seasonal labor shortages. The supply of labor is affected by unending migration of able-bodied youths from the rural to urban areas creating labor shortages especially at peak periods when labor is required for land preparation, weeding and harvesting.
Hired labor shortages have driven up the cost of labor making such labor unprofitable to the average smallholder.
Technical constraint in Nigeria 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. Poor government support and poor government policy prevent the emergence of innovations from research institutes. Even when they are available, there seem to be communication gaps between farmers (end-users of research efforts) and the researchers.
The poverty incidence among farmers, which is the highest in the economy, also contributes to the persistence of technical constraint in Nigeria. The low level of productivity translates to a vicious cycle of poverty, thereby leading to low level of production.
1. There is the need for government to invest heavily in rural infrastructure development that will promote private investment in agriculture and facilitate linkage of agriculture to industry.
2. There is the need to intensify rural electrification programme to cover all rural villages in the country.
3. There is the need to improve agricultural production, processing and trade through increased access to resources such as land, technology (improved inputs) credit, training. Adoption of modern farming and husbandry practices such as planting of improved seeds and seedlings, application of agricultural chemicals for pest and disease control and tractors to reduce drudgery and enhance yields should be facilitated by assisting the farmers in sourcing improved technologies.
4. There is the need to strengthen agricultural research activities through increased and stable funding, proper coordination, strengthening of linkages among research centres as well as adequate training of research and technical staff in specialized skills.
Indeed, the potentials for domestic and foreign investment in different agricultural enterprises in the different zones of Nigeria are high, considering the large population size of the country, the availability of abundant resources and raw materials and the opportunity to earn good returns from investment. Efforts put into ensuring adequate implementation of the above recommendations will pave way for diversification of revenue sources, increased income, employment generation and poverty reduction in Nigeria.
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