Agriculture and Nigeria Economic Development will be discussed in this article. This is to bring to the limelight the indispensability of agriculture.
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Agriculture is the mainstay of Nigeria Economy, apart from crude oil. It accounts for more than 50% of the overall Gross Domestic Product.
It occupies a predominant position and has contributed much to the economic development of Nigeria. Before Independence, and a little afterward, agriculture was the backbone of Nigeria’s economy.
It contributed more than 80% of the foreign exchange earnings and contributed the lion’s share of the Gross Domestic Product.
It provided the required revenue for investment in other sectors. At this time, there was an emphasis on the production of crops for export.
Most of the crops were exported without initial processing. However, with the end of the Nigerian Civil War things changed drastically.
Crude oil took over agriculture as the mainstay of the economy. The high demand for petroleum in the world in the world market and the higher prices influenced by OPEC encouraged greater production.
Petroleum came to dominate the economy in the middle 1970s, accounting for well over 90% of Nigeria’s foreign earnings. This dominant position of petroleum has continued to the present time.
Because of the increasing wealth realized from oil, agriculture started playing a secondary role. The export of most agricultural exports declined considerably and the country relied heavily on imported food.
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Recently, a number of developments around the world and within the country have tried to reemphasize the significant role of agriculture in the national economy.
Presently, very serious efforts are being made to step up the production of food crops and cash crops to meet local demand and provide raw materials for industry, as well as to provide a more broad-based export economy.
The world oil glut and need for a broad-based economy. The decreased world demand for petroleum in recent times and a worldwide economic recession have brought about untold problems to the Nigerian economy.
Because of the heavy reliance on oil and the consequent fall in export earnings from this source, there has been an adverse balance of payments.
There is therefore the need to diversify the economy by encouraging agricultural and industrial production both for home consumption and export.
In the recent past, the neglect of agriculture meant that food imports constituted a major drain on foreign currency reserves.
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With a decline in foreign exchange earnings, there is a need to produce more food at home in order to conserve the little foreign exchange available.
The desire for self-sufficiency is necessary. Heavy reliance on other countries for the supply of essential goods and services is dangerous in times of crisis.
There is a need to protect the economy from manipulations from other countries. The production of crops helps to lead to the desired self-sufficiency in food production and the provision of raw materials to feed the growing number of industries.
From the ongoing, it is expected that agriculture will play a more prominent role than it did in the 1970s. This is because of the present importance attached to it.
The future of Nigeria economy is more likely to be sustained by agriculture seeing that the crude oil reserves will soon run out, and we will once again be made to solely face agriculture as our major source of revenue.
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Currently, there are strides by several agencies in the line of mechanized large-scale farming where improved varieties of crops and animals are being raised, for local consumption and exports.
It is believed that with the right government policies, and private sector inclusion, Nigeria’s economy will be strengthened and sustained by Agriculture.