Problems Facing Agriculture in Nigeria and Possible Solutions

Alt: = "photo of people working on a farm in Nigeria"


Nigeria's agricultural sector is faced with so many challenges, some of which are:

1. Access to farmland

2. Inadequate financing

3. Poor transport system

4. Poor road network

5. Aging farmer population

6. Education

7. Farming System and techniques

8. Insecurity

9. Pests and disease

10. Climate change

11. Market failures

12. Lack of access to improved seeds and stock

13. Inadequate storage facilities

14. Policy inconsistencies

15. Government bureaucratic bottlenecks

Access to Farmland

Access to land is one of the major problems militating against agriculture in Nigeria no thanks to the kind of land tenure system in Nigeria. Commercial farming requires a vast land mass. Land acquisition process is very cumbersome in Nigeria, especially in the southern Nigeria. Land administration is mostly held by families in accordance to customary laws — the lands are passed on to generations with warnings not to dispose with family lands. To get  enough land for commercial farming, it may require acquiring lands belonging to many families, getting these families to agree to sell their land is an uphill task. Land Use Act makes the process of land acquiring land more cumbersome. The 1978 Land Use Decree was supposedly meant to give the right of land administration into the hand of the government for easy access to land for the general public good (economic), but it’s evident that land doesn’t belong to the government in practical terms, and the land use decree rather makes access to farmland more difficult as It takes ages to get land title from state governments after acquiring the land from private individuals, families.

Solution: Easy Access to Land. The government at all levels should therefore facilitate and streamline the processes of land acquisition for the purposes of rubber plantation establishment and expansion. The government can establish rubber farm reserves or estates and allot lands smallholder farmers. The National Land Development Authority should live up to its mandate. The state governments should make the process of get Certificate of Occupancy very easy and timely. These will also empower the rubber farmers to be able to use their farmland titles to access loan facilities for their farming business.

Read also: Limitations of Land Use Model in Nigeria

Education

Illiteracy is one of the challenges facing agricultural development in Nigeria. Most of the farming population do not have formal education, those that have are semi-educated. Farming is regarded as job for the uneducated and unskilled. Statistics show that only about 17%, 13% and 8% of Nigerian farmers have primary, secondary and tertiary educations respectively, which whooping 62% does not have any form of formal education. This is in contradiction to what is obtainable in developed countries where most farmers have quality formal education and special training on agriculture. 

Solution: The mindset of agriculture being job for illiterate is be reversed. Graduates should be encouraged to embrace agriculture as career. Concerted efforts should be made to ensure that farmers especially those in the rural areas former education and proper training to improve efficiency and productivity. With the availability of IT, online classes can be organized for the farmers in the hinter lands from anywhere.

Read also: Solutions to Fish Farming Problems in Nigeria

Extension Services

Solution: Government at all levels through their ministries, departments and agencies with mandate on agriculture should engage more extension officers who will educate the farmers on the best and modern  farming practices, the use of technologies to mitigate low  quality and output. Extension service is crucial in modern day agriculture especially in regions like Nigeria where farmers mainly smallholders within the less educated demography. Agricultural practices evolve with times, the farmers should be kept abreast with the new developments and adopt same in business for optimal yield, meet international standard which in turn guarantees high rate of return on investment.

Market Linkage and Price Stability

There should be linkage between the  farmers and the markets, both local and international markets. The government should ensure there are off-takers who will buy the farm produce off from the farmers as soon as they produce at reasonable prices. There should be price control mechanism to forestall price fluctuations. Market linkage and price stability will encourage farmers to produce more, and induce more investment into the sector. Ministry of Trade and Investment and Nigeria Export Promotion Council should ensure there are functional outlets in the international markets.  

Access to Financing

The farmers should be given access to adequate financing for their farming enterprises. The government through its interventionist agencies like Central Bank of Nigeria, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Bank of Industry, Agricultural Bank should have empowerment programmes targeted at providing credit facilities for the farmers. It could be in form of cash or inputs. Deposit money banks and other financial institutions should increase their lending to agricultural sector. The farmers on their own part should improve on their farming management practices to reduce risks and make their farming businesses bankable. The farmers should also form cooperative to enable them pool their resources together to acquire inputs and equipment that would be difficult for individual farmers to acquire, and to be able to be in better position to access government farmers empowerment programmes and credits from commercial banks.

Lack of Access to Improve Seeds & Seedlings

Majority of Nigerian farmers do not access to improved and dressed seeds, which imply  low quality and an undue exposure to fungal attacks and consequently a possible reduction in economic yield

Most smallholder farmers use seed from the previous season harvest, which are often not treated before planting. These planted seeds are prone to pest and diseases attack resulting in low germination percentage. To overcome this problem farmers plant more seeds in anticipation of getting high germination percentage, more often farmers seem not to pay attention to the quantity of seed planted, just because seedlings would be thinned, most times thinning are delayed beyond three weeks after germination which adversely affects yield. 

Solution: The reason given for low fertilizer usage and seed dressing chemicals was unavailability and high cost of these inputs.

Policy Inconsistency

Policy uncertainty has affected agriculture sector like every other sector of  the Nigerian economy. Every government comes up with it’s own programs and policies and cancels the programs and policies by the previous government(s).

There should therefore policy consistency and continuity by the incumbent and successive governments.

Read also: How Transportation Affects Marketing of Livestock in Nigeria


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