Agricultural Plan


The history of agriculture in Nigeria since independence consists mainly of efforts to ensure in¬creased production in all aspects of farming through better inputs, modernization through mechaniza¬tion, increase in incentives to all categories of farmers and the introduction of various schemes so as to meet the food and raw material needs of the nation.

Before oil was discovered, agriculture provided 60 per cent of the nation's exports and 50 per cent of national productions. Even though oil has taken over as the nation's major foriegn exchange earner, agriculture is now gradually coming back to the fore; more land areas than before are being cultivated and diverse industrial raw materials are also being locally sourced from improved agricultural produc¬tion. Out of Nigeria's 98 million hectares of land mass about 75% is suitable for agriculture, including arable fanning, forestry, livestock husbandry and fisheries. While about 30 million hectares of land were cultivated in 1978, today over 51 million hectares are being utilized.

In the early 1960's Nigeria persisted in pursuing agricultural policies similar to those of the im¬mediate pre-independence period with emphasis on the production of cash crops such as cocoa, palm oil, groundnut, cotton, rubber and timber. Peasant farming provided most of the food needs of the na¬tion. In 1966, the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and National Resources was established to co¬ordinate the nation's agricultural activities.

As a result of the civil war (1967-70) and the oil boom of the early 1970's which drew young adults away from farming, the National Accelerated Food Production Programme (NAFPP) was introduction to stem the rise in food import bills which rose from N41.24 million in 1964 to N126.26 million in 1973. Additionally, the World Bank-sponsored Agricultural Development Projects (ADPs) were introduced in 1975. Its major achievement has been rural integrated development which included construction of feeder roads and provision of potable water. Yet in spite of various food production schemes which in¬cluded Operation Feed the Nation (1976) the River Basin Development Scheme (1976) and the Green Revolution (1979) Nigeria's food import bill rose to Nl.81 billion in 1981. However, the bill subsequent¬ly declined to about N800 million in 1987 following the ban on various food imports like wheat, rice and maize. Similarly all existing commodity boards were also scrapped in 1985.

Since the introduction of the national economic recovery Programme in 1986, Nigerian agriculture has been given a new lease of live.Output for maize, millet and guinea corn which totaled 11.5 million tonnes in 1985 rose to 14 million tonnes in 1986. In fishing, 250 trawlers were licensed in 1986 compared to 135 in 1985. Also in 1989 yam and cassava production totaled 57.6 million tonnes nationally compared with 14 million tonnes in 1970. Wheat cultivation which was insignificant before in Nigeria hit 500,000 tonnes in 1989.

Livestock production has also recorded considerable improvement over the past three decades. In 1963/64 193,00 long tonnes of beef, 95,000 long tonnes of goat meat, 41,000 long tonnes of lamb mutton, 49,000 long tonnes of pork and 52,000 tonnes of poultry were produced. In 1979/80, the pro¬duction of beef rose to 300,000 long tonnes, goat meat 180,000, lamb mutton 70,000 long tonnes pork, 150,000 long tonnes and poultry 175,000 tonnes, while in 1987/88 the output for beef was 492,000 ton¬nes, goat meat 415,000 tonnes, lamb/mutton 156,000 tonnes and pork 173,000 tonnes.

As part of the modernization of agriculture, changing from land tilling with hoe (left inset) to mechanized farming (right inset) the use of fertilizers has also been on the increase and large-scale farming also on the rise. In 1960 about 49,000 tonnes of fertilizers were used nationally; in 1990 some 1,246,000 tonnes were applied, a substantial percentage of which was locally sourced.

To avert possible famine and cushion occasional food shortage in the country the nation now has a grain storage Programme covering strategic grain reserve, grain buffer stock storage and on-fann storage of various grains in modern silos in five locations with capacities ranging from 125,000 tonnes to 250,000 tonnes. The crops stored include rice, millet, sorghum, maize, soya beans and others as depicted in the above montage.

About Eccles
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