Harnessing Nigeria’s Huge Agricultural Potentials for Food Security: A Roadmap

Keywords: Agricultural Output, Food Security


This paper charts a roadmap for harnessing Nigeria’s agricultural potentials for food security, given resource endowments and challenges posed by the dominant smallholder farming system.  The literature review notes that food security exists when all people, at all times, have physical, social and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food which meets their dietary needs for an active and healthy life. Agricultural potentials can be evaluated through available resources, entrepreneurial capabilities and production linkages that determine a country’s productive capacity to foster growth and development The overview of resources endowments shows that Nigeria, with a landmass estimated at about 910.8 square kilometers possesses abundant natural resources including labor, arable land, water bodies and rivers, forests and wildlife, livestock, minerals, gas, and petroleum. This provides a huge agricultural potential and indeed agriculture currently accounts for about 23% of total GDP. This study identifies three-fold problems which bedeviled Nigeria’s agricultural sector viz.: low productivity, lack of adequate finance (credit), and the dominance of weak markets for farm products. Available data shows that land, a key determinant of agricultural potential, remains under-exploited for crop, animal, and forestry production.  Among the exploitation challenges are poor farmer’s access to land, finance and credit; low labor and land productivity in the face of farming system dualism; weak base for research and development, weak markets, poor infrastructure and low industrialization. Given the need to transform the relatively unproductive dominant smallholder farming system, it is imperative to promote yield improvement techniques that build on the strength of the countries factor endowments.  In the light of this, the most pragmatic path is to adopt a holistic integrated research and extension services approach that serves to escalate rather than supplant indigenous capabilities to foster the desired agrarian transformation and growth. This study concludes that in addition to getting incentives right for agriculture, the provision of low-cost finance, tied to extensive farming techniques such as small irrigation pumps, hand motorized farming implements, improved seeds accompanied by integrated extension services may be more rewarding and complimentary as capabilities escalator rather than a wholesale adoption of foreign technologies as has been the case.  Beyond primary production, there is the need to increase the domestic resource content of Nigeria’s agro-allied industries to replace the competing imports, while conscious effort should be devoted to adding value to our primary exports commodities.  We also need to strengthen agricultural marketing, which would require some basic infrastructure and access to both the relatively unorganized and organized markets.


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