Agriculture is one of Nigeria’s most powerful tools in addressing its goals of creating more employment, better public health, and greater economic growth. The transformation of agriculture would stimulate small- and medium-sized industries that are in fact the engine of economic growth. The need to focus on agriculture stems from the fact that the sector accounts for 70 per cent of the people in the rural areas, the growing demand for food and, more importantly, the about 44 per cent contribution of agriculture to Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
In order to achieve economic transformation, it would require more investments in agricultural research and development and the development of infrastructure. Nigeria needs to build its defence against biological threats to crops just as is being done for the military. Agriculture in Nigeria in recent decades has been a neglected sector and the gains have been constrained by weak institutions and inadequate infrastructure.
These constraints are well known, less known are the limited application of technologies, the low skill base in the sector, and its aging population. The young are fleeing rural areas and the production side of the sector. Similarly, financial institutions view the agricultural sector as risky addressing and so it receives a very small portion of commercial credit. Getting the young interested in agriculture and developing a supportive financial system to facilitate the access of farmers, traders, and processors to credit could go a long way in several national needs.
Effort should be made in Nigeria to depend less on development partners, to move from comparative agricultural production to competitive production, to improve human capital, and to tap into the vast human resources available – the youths – for development. Government should also make efforts in repositioning agriculture as a prime mover for Nigeria’s growth and development. The transformation of agriculture would bring many benefits to the country. Such benefits could include the reduction in the level of unemployment and conservation of foreign exchange, among others.