Nigeria relies heavily on its oil industry for revenue, but it is still mostly an agricultural society. Around 70% of Nigerians engage in some type of agricultural production. In 1999, agriculture provided 41% of the country’s total GDP, which was a decrease of 24.7% from 1957. This decrease has continued in the last two decades because as economic development has happened, the size of the agricultural sector has decreased, which is a usual trend.
What Has Caused the Decline Agricultural Production?
The decline started back in the 1970s with the petroleum boom. This oil boom brought about a change in the labour market, which then had a negative effect of the production of cash crops and foods. Over the years, the Nigerian government had paid farmers low prices for their domestic market food as a means to satisfy demands for cheap food products. This was a policy that made agricultural work very unattractive and the cities became more of a lure to farm workers. There was more money to be made from working in the oil industry, so why would anyone bother themselves working in the agricultural industry?
This Meant More Importation
Therefore, due to the decline of food production, Nigeria had to start importing food in order to feed its people. To add to this, it also lost its coveted status as an exporter of cash crops such as palm oil, cocoa, and groundnuts. This loss of status cost the country a lot of money as they were getting over a billion dollars each year from the sale of cash crops.
They Are Trying to Salvage Something
The Nigerian government have been trying for the last three decades or so to make their country self-sufficient again, but it has not been very successful and it is safe to say that there is a long journey ahead of them. To you give more of an idea about the challenges that lie ahead of them, we have provided you with some facts below:
- The land area of Nigeria is 98.3 million ha, and 74 million ha of that is good for agricultural use. However, less than half of that arable land is being used
- Hunger and poverty is rife in Nigeria - around 70% of the population have to survive on less than $0.70 each day
- 20-40% of food that is harvested is spoiled due to poor storage techniques. This means that food supply is always unstable
- About 60/8% of the population is malnourished
- Domestic food production has increased, but it is nowhere near enough to support the national food demand
Take a look at some indigenous plants right here.