In Nigeria today, there are many factors militating against the growth of agricultural development in Nigeria. The agricultural sector is a critical sector that directly affects and influences the socio-economic progress of Nigeria. It sincerely drives the economic development and industrialization of Nigeria and in curtailing the mass unemployment rate facing the country.
That is why the significance of agriculture in national development cannot be downplayed as it ensures food and nutritional security, income and employment generation, and for stimulating industrialization and overall economic development of the country.
The huge importation of some food items to feed the proliferation of population in Nigeria is as a result of low output in the agricultural sector and it is getting tougher day by day to feed the ever growing population. It will interest you to know that the agricultural sector employs over 70% of Nigerian labour force which is a large number and as such the sector is finding it intractable to feed the increasing population.
There is also the issue of rural poverty which is quiet endemic in Nigeria and there is rising concern on this. The obvious effects of rural poverty are that there is the food and nutrition insecurity as it affects the socio-economic development and political costs. For us to have a food-secure household, there should be a dependable food quantity and quality that will surely support the members of the household in order to make them healthy and have active life.
It is a huge pity that in agricultural production, rural farmers do encounter aplenty challenges and problems that does not complement their efforts to make available more food to the society and make them have a standard living as required by global best practice.
In a developing country like Nigeria, poverty is fast becoming the capital of Nigeria where small scale farmers contribute huge percentage of the farming population. Farmers are as well threatened by the daily monster of rural poverty and neglect by government.
Automatically, poverty or penury constitute to produce poor agricultural productivity because many farmers can hardly afford to buy the required and necessary farm inputs like pesticides, fertilizers and improved seeds, which increase productivity that can surely lift them away from the abyss of poverty.
To worsen the situation, huge numbers of rural farmers in Nigeria do sell their farm produce in at cheap prices without considering the cost of production in order resolve one urgent needs or the other. Thus, this makes them to be living from hand to mouth and be living in continuous poverty. They rarely consider profit alongside the fact that many of the farmers are oblivious that their families contributes a great portion of production cost as they get unfavourable market prices for their produce year in, year out.
It is a sad development that a country such as Nigeria which has once being taunted to really earn a lot on foreign exchange from agriculture with the aid of the Nigeria Green Revolution still finds it difficult to tame corruption, insecurity, embezzlement of public funds and sheer neglect in the agricultural sector. In fact, in the sub-saharan Africa where agriculture takes topmost position in national economies, the sector is seen as a key driver for economic growth, massive employment opportunities, wealth creation and eradicating of poverty to the barest minimum.
Therefore, making agriculture to be the leading force in economic development as it contributes to 20 per cent – 30 per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
At this juncture, it is safe and sound to state that agriculture offers the best option towards creating solid economic development, poverty alleviation and massive employment opportunities. Let’s now look at the factors that militate against the progress and success of agriculture in Nigeria and offer pragmatic solutions to the long term agricultural drawbacks.
Factors Militating Against Agricultural Sector in Nigeria
1. Poor or lack of Infrastructure
Over the years in Nigeria, there have been incessant records of infrastructural decay. It looks as if it won’t go with ease. The level at which able-bodied youths migrate from one rural area to urban area due to lack of infrastructure in rural areas is alarming and discouraging. This has even led to the level of scarce resources in urban areas.
Agriculture in the rural areas has lost large number of human resources and has curtailed its output.
In terms of transportation of farm produce to its destination, there are recurrent challenges of facing bad roads with potholes and where trucks carrying farm produce will develop fault. Thereby, making goods destroy during transportation.
2. Inactive research facilities
There is this dormancy with the agricultural research institutions in Nigeria and they don’t really work or deliver as expected. Some past research works that have been carried out have failed to be implemented.
The agricultural research institution has no clear sense of direction. Thus, many farmers who should learn and make use of the outcome of the researches and data that should be obtained from research facilities are not able to do so. This is egregious.
3. Lack of Education and Modernization
Education they say is the best legacy. Many farmers in Nigeria are not educated coupled with the fact that they there is lack of mechanized equipment. This makes it difficult to implement modern methods of farming. Most farmers don’t have the technical knowledge on how to operate modern machines as they are used to obsolete machines. And most problems of agricultural marketing in Nigeria are related to a poor level of education.
Zeen's Automatic Middle Of Content Ad Feature
4. The issue of food processing
The lack of proper storage facilities has caused up to 20–40 percent of harvest lost every year in Nigeria. Pests incessantly attacked the harvest as the storage conditions are curtailed by quality of the crops.
5. Unserviceable machinery
More often than not, the government of Nigeria imports a quiet large number of tractors. The sad news is that there are no service stations for the repair and replacement of parts of the machinery. To rub salt to the wound, the farmers do park the tractors and take on the archaic methods of farming when the tractors develop fault.
6. Government policies
Policies of government over the years towards agriculture do seem like a pinch of salt and the lackadaisical attitude of successive governments have not yielded positive results which have shown that there is minimal implementation of policies to improve the sector.
Also, there is still the challenge of low level of hybrid seedlings importation which is not easy to get the fertilizer subsidy for farmers.
However, government is now setting up lofty programmes to develop or fillip the agricultural sector. The obverse was the case in the over the years.
Solutions to provide agricultural problems in Nigeria
1. Adequate training and education of farmers.
Workers that are skilled and well educated will sustain and maintain the durability of mechanized farm tools. There is no doubt that the knowledge of modern agricultural education programs for farmers will be of immense benefit and alter the present imbroglio.
2. There should be provision of modern farm machines and farm equipment to farmers. This will serve as the mechanization of agriculture.
3. There should be upgrade to the Agricultural Research Council to supervise, coordinate, and implement agricultural development programmes and activities to aid farmers in Nigeria.
4. Incentives should be introduced by government programmes for able-bodied youths in order to for them to be involved in the farming sector.
5. Pesticides, fertilizers among others should have local manufacturers.
6. A plausible system for the granting of loans to farmers should be made available at reasonable rates.
The challenges and problems of agriculture is not just a day effect but over the years of lack of food and nutritional security, income and employment generation among others. Farmers in Nigeria are not having the needed support from government in order to cater for themselves and their families let alone have a lot of farm produce.
Government has a whole lot of roles to play in aiding farmers in Nigeria.
They are always charged with the responsibility of providing adequate facilities to farmers, good roads, the provision of farming tools and equipment, access to water, improved seedlings and most importantly implementing of policies in support of farming in Nigeria.
The over reliance on crude oil is the bane of the problem of Nigeria. Proper attention should be given to agriculture and the socio-economic development of the country will rise as well as the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Nigeria is already blessed with a lot of human and natural resources. It is now left for the government to do the needful by harnessing the various opportunities to build a sustainable and viable economy of the country.