According to Wikipedia, agriculture is the cultivation of animals, plants and fungi for food, fiber, biofuel, medicinal plants and other products used to sustain and enhance human life. It is important therefore to work towards boosting the Nigerian economy through agriculture.
Nigeria is a nation that depends solely on crude oil to drive its economy. Nigeria has been having it good economically until recently, due to the crash of oil price globally and no thanks to the resumed hostilities in the Niger Delta region which has immensely and adversely affected Nigeria’s economy.
To say it simply, Nigeria can no longer depend solely on oil to survive economically. Nigeria must as a matter of urgency diversify its economy for its survival and agriculture readily comes to mind to answer the question of diversification.
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Before the discovery of crude oil, Nigeria was basically operating an agrarian economy, which involved the cultivation and exportation of cash crops like cocoa, groundnut, palm oil, etc. It is now high time Nigeria got back to agriculture for economic sustainability. As Anietie Udoema once said, “you cannot change a winning formula.” If agriculture sustained Nigeria in the past, it can equally sustain Nigeria now.”
Important Reasons Why Nigeria Must Embrace Agriculture
Nigeria stands to gain a lot if particular if urgent attention is paid to agricultural development. According to Wikipedia, agriculture is a vital industry in China, employing over 300 million farmers.
According to Chief Audu Ogbe, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (FRN), as published by The Guardian Newspaper of February 13 2016, Nigeria spends a whopping $20b on food importation yearly and National Bureau of Statistics, Nigeria reported that agriculture’s contribution to Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product(GDP), decreased from N4.5b in the fourth quarter of 2015 to N3.2b in the first quarter of 2016.
The above therefore implies that Nigeria loses so much in food importation and generates so little economically with regards to agriculture. Other reasons are:-
1. Employment opportunity.
2. Food security.
3. Economic sustainability.
Practical Ways To Boost Nigerian Economy Through Agriculture
1. The Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) has farms across the 36 states of Nigeria, which is managed by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.
The Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development should undertake a national survey and tour of the FGN farms and publish the addresses of the farms.
2. The FGN through the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural development should employ youths into the Federal farms to cultivate the farms. The employees should be paid as civil servants. However, they must be supervised and monitored to make sure work is done.
3. Offices should be built on the farm where full administrative and supervisory work takes place.
4. Ranches, piggeries, poultries, etc should be built on the farms and animal and crop farming will be going on simultaneously.
5. Markets should be built on the farms so that harvested farm produce can be sold immediately without the stress of transportation and other inconveniences.
6. The farmlands or shops in the market could be leased or rented to as many as are interested.
7. Food storage should be a top priority of the government. Dr. Goodluck Jonathan as President established 7 silos for the storage of food. One of the silos which is located in the Sheda Area of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) is 100,000 metric tonnes silo and is reputed to be the largest in West Africa. More silos can still be built. Every farm should have storage facilities.
8. Public Private Partnership should be encouraged. Government should bring in investors.
9. Farmers and investors should be encouraged by favorable policies, tax rebates or tax holidays, etc.
10. Agricultural Science or agricultural studies as the case may be should be introduced into the education curriculum as a compulsory subject or course from nursery or elementary to tertiary institutions. Every Nigerian student at any level must learn about farming and own a farm while in school. At the tertiary level, the FGN can get a clue from Landmark University, Omu Aran, Kwara State, which ‘Agrarian Revolution’ as its mission.
Conclusively, according to the words of Allan Savoy, “without agriculture, it is not possible to have a city, stock market, banks, university, church or army. Agriculture is the foundation of any civilization and any stable economy.”
Pastor Mfon Udoema