How to Revive Nigeria’s Agricultural Sector

Gilbert Ekugbe
The agricultural sector was the mainstay of the Nigerian economy before the advent of oil. Since the discovery of oil, the sector has been neglected by successive governments in search of “quick capacities” and has caused its contribution to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to deteriorate over the years.

The former Executive Director of the Lake Chad Research Institute (LCRI), Mr. Oluwasina Olabanji, in a conversation with THISDAY, outlined the steps that economic managers should take to revive the Nigerian agricultural sector in order to achieve inclusive growth and national development.

According to Olabanji, Nigeria needs to grow the crops it consumes on a commercial basis for domestic consumption and export to African countries and the rest of the world.

He pointed out that Nigeria is endowed with abundant natural and human resources, emphasizing that the country has nothing to do with importing foodstuffs to feed its citizens.

“The country is endowed with human and natural resources, but these resources are undermined and underutilized. Nigeria lost sight of agriculture when we identified oil as our main source of income. To redeem ourselves and turn the tide of our broken economy, we must promote mechanized agriculture.

“Mechanization is essential for the self-sufficiency of food production in the world. We also need to invest in agriculture. The current administration is trying, but it can do more.

He hailed the efforts of the current administration to boost food security, saying that the importation of rice, wheat and maize products has decreased significantly due to increased local production of the staples. .

He also called on the federal government to fund research for national development, adding that research institutes must be properly funded to develop and improve innovations to boost agronomic practices.
“The government must rehabilitate Nigeria’s irrigation infrastructure. Irrigation facilities are available especially in the northern part of the country, but need to be rehabilitated to be effective.

“Subsidizing inputs to farmers is very critical at this time. We know this is not sustainable, but there will be a time when farmers will no longer ask for support, but for now, it is very important to empower Nigerian farmers to be independent from government interventions.

“If we revive the agricultural settlements in different local governments across the country, our youths could be deployed to use the agricultural settlements for farming and it would increase food production to achieve food security,” he added.

Commenting on the performance of the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Mr. Mohammed Abubakar, so far, Olabanji said the minister had the political will to continue where the country left off in 2015-2016 during the Agricultural Transformation Agenda (ATA) when Nigeria was making progress in the agricultural sector as the recorded GDP was higher than what is currently achievable.

“He has the political will to perform and has started very well and I believe he will continue that effort in the sector. The Minister’s perception and political will is to move the agricultural sector forward. (GHG), which the former minister advocated, as it is very important in the value chain of agricultural products,” he said.

He said the uniqueness of the program allowed farmers to have direct access to inputs, which he described as very essential to boost food production.

“Farmers receive fertilizer because there was a platform where all farmers’ data was entered. We also need to make inputs available to farmers at subsidized rates because this is very important at the moment,” he said.

He also called for the need to improve synergy between the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Water Resources to enhance Nigeria’s quest to boost agricultural production.
“The synergy is not there and if it is there it is not strong but weak. You cannot grow a crop without adequate water and now that the focus is on irrigated crops, if water resources do not provide water, how do we maximize productivity and production,” he said. he asks.

Lana T. Arthur