Why Foreigners, Nigerians Abroad Must Invest In Agriculture in Nigeria

Foreigners, Nigerians Must Invest in Agriculture in Nigeria Agriculture in Nigeria Sustains the Nation In spite of the oil, agriculture in Nigeria r

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Foreigners, Nigerians Must Invest in Agriculture in Nigeria

Agriculture in Nigeria Sustains the Nation

In spite of the oil, agriculture in Nigeria remains the base of the Nigerian economy, providing the main source of livelihood for most Nigerians. The sector faces many challenges, notably:

  • an outdated land tenure system that constrains access to land (1.8 hectares/farming household)
  • a very low level of irrigation development (less than 1 percent of cropped land under irrigation)
  • limited adoption of research findings and technologies
  • high cost of farm inputs, poor access to credit
  • inefficient fertilizer procurement and distribution
  • inadequate storage facilities and poor access to markets have all combined to keep agricultural productivity low

Agriculture in Nigeria is Largest Sector

Even though agriculture still remains the largest sector of the Nigerian economy and employs two-thirds of the entire labour force, the production hurdles have significantly stifled the performance of the sector. Over the past 20 years, value-added per capita in agriculture has risen by less than 1 percent annually.

It is estimated that Nigeria has lost USD 10 billion in annual export opportunity from groundnut, palm oil, cocoa and cotton alone due to continuous decline in the production of those commodities.

Food (crop) production increases have not kept pace with population growth, resulting in rising food imports and declining levels of national food self-sufficiency (FMARD, 2008).

The main factors undermining production include reliance on rain-based agriculture, small scale land holding, and low productivity due to poor planting material, low fertilizer application, and a weak agricultural extension system amongst others.

Agriculture in Nigeria Should Focus More on Rice Production

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.

The US department of Agriculture had estimated that the 2016, Nigerian consumption of milled rice was approximately 5 million MT.

However, the minister of Agriculture said that Nigeria’s demand for rice was currently at 7 million MT but the local production was at about 3.5 million tonnes, meaning there was a deficit of 4 million MT.

Agriculture in Nigeria does well in Cassava Production

Moreover, the country is the largest producer of cassava in the world, with about 52 million MT yearly from a cultivated area of about 3.7 million hectares.

Cassava production in Nigeria accounts for up to 20 per cent of the world’s cassava, 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 hectare, as against potential yield of up to 40 MT per hectare.

Close to 66 per cent of total production is in the south, while about 30 per cent is in the north-central, and 4 per cent in other parts of the north of Nigeria.

The crop is mainly grown by small scale on small plots for family consumption and local sale. Large scale commercial plantations are few.

Nigeria is the world’s largest producer of cassava and Africa’s largest importer of rice. The government and private sector therefore need to partner to develop ways to boost cassava’s competitiveness in the global market and improve the efficiency of locally produced and processed rice.

Currently, the Nigerian Government determined to minimize food imports, especially rice, and develop cassava and rice value chains to produce and add value to these two crops and create local and export markets for farmers.

Policies and initiatives to enhance cassava and rice value chains, from production to marketing are being put in place. However, because of the country’s large size and diversity, various regions may face various constraints due to a decentralized approach to designing industrial policies and initiatives that may not out of sync with the agricultural policies (IFPRI- Policy Note No. 32, 2012).

Fishery: Key Sub-sector of Agriculture in Nigeria

The fisheries sub sector contributes about 3-4 percent to Nigeria’s annual Gross Domestic Product, GDP. It is a major contributor to the population’s nutritional requirements, making about half of the animal protein intake.

Also, the sub-sector creates employment and income for many artisanal fishermen and petty traders. Even though capture fisheries has now on the decline, Nigeria has a big potential in marine and fresh water fisheries including aquaculture.

In spite of its huge potential, the 2014 domestic fish production of 1.123 million MT is far less than the total demand by 180 million people for fish, estimated to be 3.32 million MT.

Also in 2014, fisheries and agriculture contributed 0.48% and was 20.24% to GDP respectively.

As at December 2016, the estimated population of Nigeria is 193.3 million people. The minster had said in November that Nigeria a deficit of 3 million MT in fish production.

As a result, Nigeria imports roughly 60 percent of the fish consumed. To cut down the level of fish imports, aquaculture has been chosen as one of the priority value chains development.

The National Aquaculture Strategy Plan has just been finalized with the help of FAO to support for the value chain.

Livestock also key in Agriculture in Nigeria

Livestock development is another major aspect of agriculture in Nigeria with huge social and economic potentials. Nearly 60 percent of the ruminant livestock population is in the country’s semi-arid zone and mostly managed by pastoralists.

Local production of livestock produce is much lower than the national demand. This means huge importation of livestock and livestock products. Livestock production contributes 6-8% of the Gross Domestic Products (GDP) and 20-25% of the Agricultural GDP.

As at 2011, Nigeria was blessed with estimated 19.5 million cattle, 72.5 million goats, 41.3 million sheep, 7.1 million pigs, 278,840 camels and 145 million chickens, 11.6 ducks, 2.1 million turkeys, and 974,499 donkeys (National Agricultural Sample Survey) making the nation the number one livestock producer in West Africa.

Regardless of this huge and robust population of Nigeria livestock, majority of livestock is kept by subsistence farmers.

The gap between actual and expected protein intake among Nigerians continues to widen. The Livestock sub-sector contributes only 5.1% to our National Gross Domestic Project, making Nigeria a net importer of protein food of animal origin.

Except for eggs, the domestic production of animal products is fewer than half of the demand for beef, mutton and goat meat, while for milk and pork products it is less than quarter the demand (NV20:2020, 2009).

About 30 percent of live animals slaughtered in Nigeria are exports from neighbouring countries.

The livestock industry development is constrained by low poor breeds, lack of access to feeds and pasture for grazing, regular farmer – pastoralist conflicts, lack of processing equipment and low value addition and lack of technical inputs in the management of the animals and their diseases.

The livestock sector can give farmers with new opportunities and provide cheaper, healthier diets for coming generations.

Managing this growth needs a sophisticated institutional response that can increase income and employment opportunities in rural areas, protect the livelihoods of small farmers, improve the efficiency of resource use at every level of the value chain, reduce negative environmental and health consequences, and guarantee adequate access by the economically disadvantaged parts of society to the food needed to live healthy lives.

The Strategy of the Nigerian government for livestock production according to the Nigerian minister of agriculture, Audu Ogbeh, is four-fold:

  • To establish ranches of high quality improved tropical grass varieties and quality water. Some of the grass seeds would be imported to Nigeria
  • To aggressively pursue of Cattle Improvement Programme using artificial insemination
  • To establish clusters of dairy farmers which would be equipped with milk collection facilities
  • To help dairy farmers build capacity


The Nigeria seems to want to focus more on Cassava, Rice, Livestock and Fish production and value-addition.

These four sectors of agriculture in Nigeria can bring the nation out of the current economic recession, solve the problem of food security, create employment for thousands and generate foreign exchange which the country so badly needs.

This is an opportunity for foreign investors and Nigerians in Diaspora to invest in Agriculture in Nigeria