Problems Of Agriculture in Nigeria: Agriculture is one of the critical sectors of the Nigerian economy that has been looked down on despite the huge impact it offers. From the Savannah/grasslands of the North to the mangroves/swamps and waters of the South, the nation is blessed with fertile lands for cultivation of crops as well as rich aquatic lives.
Prior to independence, the country had the groundnut pyramids in the North especially in Kano state. Cotton and Shea butter were well cultivated in the North and this added boost to the nation’s economy. At independence, the West produced cocoa and this made Nigeria one of the largest exporters of cocoa at that time. In fact, it is on record that the tallest building in Nigeria, the Cocoa House in Ibadan was built via the proceeds of the Cocoa trade by the Western Region.
In the South, the rich aquatic lives was a major source of income for the people coupled with farming. Thus, the country had a stable economy which were major producers of what they ate.
However, with the discovery of crude, there seem to be a massive shift in focus from agriculture. This has relegated the sector to a background and the sector has suffered setbacks in so many ways. These setbacks have in turn affected the input agriculture has on the economy. So, we have a situation where we suffer in the midst of plenty caused as a result of generational neglect of this vital sector of the economy
In the light of the above, we shall list out the major challenges facing agriculture in Nigeria and we hope that identifying the challenges will bring us a step closer to having them solved.
Challenges of Agriculture in Nigeria
1. Poverty: One of the major problems facing agriculture in Nigeria is extreme poverty prevalent in the country. The country has a huge population of poor people who cannot afford to go into mechanised and commercial farming. Farming activities are done on a small scale and usually for the consumption of the farmer and his family members. Lack of access to funds prevents the production of food on a large scale.
Again, since most of the farmers reside in the rural areas, their inability to access funds and soft loans from banks as well as government grants hinders production on a large scale. As a result of this, they rely on crude implements and organic manures to cultivate crops.
2. Access to Markets: Most of the farming activities in Nigeria are done by the locals who reside in villages. There are no access to markets in the towns where these farm produce are sold. Sometimes, the produce which cannot be stored are wasted due to their inability to transport them to the markets where they can be sold. Access to market presupposes access to good transportation network. Transportation thus, becomes a major problem to agriculture in Nigeria.
Also, due to the state of poor road networks in the country, goods usually perish while on transit. Occurrences of accidents on our roads during transit of farm produce is a major setback to the agricultural industry in the country.
3. Lack of Storage Facility: Agricultural produce are seasonal. Very few crops produce all year round. The availability of seasonal crops at a time when they are not in season is dependent on the storage and processing facilities available in the country. The country lacks the facilities to process and store up produce for the future. Crops which are not consumed during their time of harvest thus lie to waste. There is thus a scarcity of such produce when they are out of season.
4. Mindset: The mindset of the greater population of Nigerian youths, especially the educated ones, is that agriculture is for the poor and illiterate, therefore, it is a taboo to indulge in it. Agriculture as it has come to be now is a venture that needs highly educated and skilled individuals to go into so as to produce foods that are healthy via the use of improved farming methods and techniques. The quest for white collar jobs by youths have pushed agriculture to the background as well as depriving the industry of adequate manpower.
There should be a shift in the mindset of youths in the country with regards to agriculture. If one can eat, he can as well produce that which he eats. Let the youths be enlightened more on the importance of agriculture and the need to engage in it. This will go a long way to eradicate the stereotype the industry has faced over the years as a result of the rush for white collar jobs.
5. Desire for Primitive ways of farming: This is also part of the challenges of agriculture facing the country. Most farmers are not willing to adopt new and improved ways of farming. For example, livestock farming as is being practised round the globe is usually by ranching or confining the animals to a place.
Normadic farming is rarely practiced world over. However, in Nigeria, some persons still see the movement of livestock from one point to another as a way of farming that is most beneficial to them and their livestock. This is indeed a huge challenge faced by agriculture in Nigeria as there is usually a clash between livestock farmers and crop farmers which have often led to destruction of farms and killing of livestocks.
6. Insecurity: About a decade ago, the issue of insecurity was not a problem to agriculture in Nigeria. This is due mainly to the fact that farmers and farms were not attacked by criminals.
One could say “oh, at least they ate, so they spared farms so they could have what to eat for their next criminal operation“. The case is however not the same today. Farms are being attacked with reckless abandon. Farmers are being killed on their way to farm. Crops are being destroyed and livestocks rustled by bandits.
In some quarters, farmers have to pay tributes to the marauding killers to enable them gain access to their farms. The insecurity in the country, especially in the Northern part of the country has stopped farmers from going to their farms. This translates into a shortage of food production which may likely lead to famine in the near future. Thus, insecurity is a major challenge of agriculture facing Nigeria at the moment.
7. Corruption: Corruption as a problem cannot be ruled out when listing the problems of agriculture in Nigeria. This comes out to play in the disbursement of grants and funds to farmers for agricultural purposes. It will be discovered that grants which are usually meant for rural and local farmers never gets to them.
The funds end up being siphoned by the authorities thereby leaving the farmers with nothing to rely on. As a result of this, fertilizers and improved varieties of crops are not purchased, which adversely affects the output from local farmers.
Conclusively, agriculture is rewarding but the numerous challenges facing it in the country has made it less enticing to a larger chunk of the population. This accounts for the low investment in the agricultural sector by the teeming youths of the country.