The past three decades witnessed a decline in the Agricultural Sector in Nigeria. Oil sector boom and the supposed ‘dignity’ white collar jobs confers has made lots of graduates shy away from the earthy means of survival -Agriculture. This affected the Food security of the Nation as even Nigeria began importing food which could easily grow in the vast arable land here.
Data from the National Bureau of Statistics and Central Bank of Nigeria show that the country recorded food imports of an average of ₦1.92 trillion per year and N1 billion every day from 1990 to 2011.
From 2016 to the first half of 2019, the nation spent ₦54.51 trillion importing manufactured goods, mostly food, and agricultural goods. Within the period, agricultural goods import gulped ₦38.24 billion while manufactured goods import gulped ₦19.51bn.
Recently, the Nigeria Employers Consultative Association (NECA) published a report showing the further deteriorating poverty level in the country.
NECA’s report says that the number of citizens in extreme poverty now stands at an estimated 102 million, representing 50 per cent of the Nigeria’s estimated population of about 205 million, as against the 40 per cent reported by the National Bureau of Statistics in October 2019.This comes in the light of the World Bank’ prediction that global extreme poverty is expected to rise in 2020 for the first time in over 20 years as the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted economies.
The trends are fast changing now and more persons are embracing farming- subsistence and commercial as means of sustenance. Before COVID, the unemployment level have made youths pick up cutlasses and hoes and applied the law of nature to select, sow and multiply seeds using available land spaces.
“I believe that the future millionaires and billionaires of Africa will come out of the food and agriculture industry – not out of oil and gas sector – because nobody eats oil and gas. Africa’s Agriculture will worth 1 trillion Dollars by 2030.” This statement by the President of Africa Development Bank (ADB) Adewumi Adesina clearly shows the great potentials in Agriculture, and it being a unique opportunity for Nigerian youth to tap into.
“A well fed man is a rich man”. This parable has gained new meaning in the light of happenstance in the country. People are turning to the land for survival as poverty rates hit the clouds. Those who do not have access to huge plots resort to sack farming of vegetables. Earners whose income cannot afford high end imported foodstuffs are turning to indigenous vegetables and local meals that are highly nutritious.
There are huge potentials and opportunities in the Agriculture value chain. The need to also gain requisite skills and basic knowledge to successfully set-up, manage and maintain a farm is essential.
Yes , agricultural practices in Nigeria are mostly manual and labour intensive. The processes are not fully mechanised. Yet, the truth that agriculture contributes to poverty reduction cannot be overlooked. Farm incomes are increased, food becomes abundantly available , food prices are reduced and employment chances for those within the value chain becomes high.
(Picture Credit: Kenneth Okonkwo)