Agriculture, The Life Line Of Nigeria's Economy
As the economy dwindles from bad to worse, it is conspicuous that the uproar of intruding elements, such as crude oil and its allies, have subtly increased the toil, displacing the country from its previous outstanding position to its current corroding condition. Looking at the declared aim of Nigeria’s National Agricultural Policy for vision 2020 which is to:
"(i) Attain food security, (ii) increase production and productivity, (iii) generate employment and income, and (iv) expand exports and reduce food imports thereby freeing resources for critical infrastructure development and delivery of social services.” The country seems to be far from its projections, and rightly said by Albert Einstein - "Today's problems cannot be solved at the same level of consciousness that created them." The country must change its myopic approach to agriculture.
Nigeria faces huge food security challenges. About 70 percent of the population lives on less than N 100 (US$ 0.70) per day, suffering hunger and poverty. Despite its reputation as petroleum resource-dependent, Nigeria remains an agrarian economy. Data from the US Department of Agriculture two decades ago shows that Nigeria ranks third in countries that spend at least 50% of their total expenditure on food imports. Nigeria spends approximately 73% of total expenditure on food (8% higher than the national bureau of statistics estimate) behind Azerbaijan and Tanzania with 73.5% and 73.2% respectively. Despite a seven percent growth rate in agricultural production (2006–2008), Nigeria’s food import bill has risen. The growing population is dependent on imported food staples, including rice, wheat and fish etc.
Nigeria is currently the 7th most populated country in the world, and by 2050 is projected to be between 300-450 million, which is likely to be the world 3rd most populated country (after India and China, outstripping the USA.) The implication is that Nigeria’s food security challenges will grow with its population, if at the current food production growth rates; Nigeria remains unable to feed its population. Production will have to expand at a higher rate, to beat futuristic food insecurity. For the country Nigeria in this 21st century to regain its position as the “Giant of Africa” by reaching the expected height in growth and development, the following actions should be considered:
Firstly, taking the bull by the horn, the unfolding phenomenon in any economy like Nigeria especially the rising incidence of unemployment and the emergence of informal economy can be traced to decline in agricultural activities. It is pathetic that Nigeria have subtly subscribed to what looks like a better alternative while in reality it is a bitter alternative. If the government must tackle unemployment, agriculture must return to priority one, taking cognizance that the three basic need of man is firstly food, clothing and shelter all derived directly or indirectly from agriculture.
Secondly, unveiling the mystery behind agriculture, unlike every other natural resources that exist (crude oil, gold, iron ore, etc.), which are unevenly distributed, agriculture stands out, because with agriculture every nation or state can be a exporter, build their economy, increase GDP and thrive in the midst of economic recession . If Nigeria must thrive amidst global recession, by increasing export duties and decreasing import duties, she must discard the erroneous ideology that made her compete for unevenly distributed resources and embrace agriculture as a resource with even distribution.
What more can be said on the importance of agriculture, in the development and the restructuring of Nigeria. The country cannot dispute the fact that global warming, burning of fossil fuel, release of green house gases, depletion of ozone layer and other environmental hazards, that threaten the existence of man resulted from the negligence of agricultural practice. Therefore, it is imperative to know that agriculture provides the life line for preservation in a place like Nigeria.
In conclusion, there can never be an alternative to food, clothes and shelter, which can be obtained from agriculture, as they remain the basic need of man. As the world evolves, the future of agriculture lies in the hands of the younger generation. If only Nigeria can embrace and capture the future of a green revolution, she would have successfully insured the future and prevent the rupture of its beautiful nature.