Agriculture in Nigeria is a branch of the economy in Nigeria, providing employment for about 30% of the population as of 2010. The sector is being transformed by commercialization at the small, medium and large-scale enterprise levels.
The usage of inorganic fertilizers was promoted by Nigerian government in the 1970s. In 1990, 82 million hectares out of Nigeria’s total land area of about 91 million hectares were found to be arable. 42 percent of the cultivable area was farmed. Much of this land was farmed under the bush fallow system, whereby land is left idle for a period of time to allow natural regeneration of soil fertility. 18 million hectares were classified as permanent pasture, but had the potential to support crops. Most of the 20 million hectares covered by forests and woodlands are believed to have agricultural potential.
Agricultural holdings are small and scattered, and farming is carried out with simple tools. Large-scale agriculture is not common. Agriculture contributed 32% to GDP in 2001.
Major crops include beans, sesame, cashew nuts, cassava, cocoa beans, groundnuts, gum arabic, kolanut, maize (corn), melon, millet, palm kernels, palm oil, plantains, rice, rubber, sorghum, soybeans and yams.
The country’s agricultural products fall into two main groups: food crops produced for home consumption, and exports. Prior to the Nigerian civil war, the country was self-sufficient in food, but increased steeply after 1973. Bread made from American wheat replaced domestic crops as the cheapest staple food.
The most important food crops are Rice, yams and manioc (cassava),Rice, in the south and sorghum, Beans, and millet in the north.
Cocoa is the leading non-oil foreign exchange earner but the dominance of smallholders and lack of farm labor due to urbanization hold back production. In 1999, Nigeria produced 145,000 tons of cocoa beans, but has the potential for over 300,000 per year.
Rubber is the second-largest non-oil foreign exchange earner
Ministry of Agriculture
The government office responsible for Agriculture development and transformation is currently the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development. Primarily funded by the Federal Government, the Ministry currently superintends almost fifty parastatals operating as either key departments or agencies across the country. The Ministry has 2 major departments namely Technical and Service Departments:
Technical Departments: Agriculture (Trees and Crops), Fisheries, Livestock, Land Resources, Fertilizer, Food Reserve & Storage and Rural Development.
Service Departments: Finance, Human Resources, Procurement, PPAS (Plan, Policy, Analysis & Statistics) and Co-operatives.
The ministry is headed by Audu Ogbeh who was appointed by President Muhammad Buhari on 12 November 2015 succeeding Akinwumi Adesina who was elected to head Africa Development Bank. Buhari also appointed Heineken Lokpobiri as the new Minister of State for Agriculture, and Shehu Ahmad as the Permanent Secretary under a newly created Ministry of Agriculture And Rural Development.
In 2011, the administration of President Jonathan launched an Agricultural Transformation Agenda which was managed by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development. The intended outcome of the agenda is to promote agriculture as a business, integrate the agricultural value chain and make agriculture a key driver of Nigeria’s economic growth. To achieve this agenda the government put in place some new measures:
- New fiscal incentives to encourage domestic import substitution
- Removal of restrictions on areas of investment and maximum equity ownership in investment by foreign investors
- Nocurrency exchange controls – free transfer of Capital, Profits and Dividends
- Constitutional guarantees against nationalization/expropriation of investments
- Zero percent (0%) duty on agricultural machinery and equipment imports
- Pioneer Tax holiday for agricultural investments
- Duty Waivers and other industry related incentives e.g., based on use of local raw materials, export orientation