Agricultural Sector Growth in Nigeria


Nigeria is Africa’s most populous nation (and also one of the largest). With so many people living there, it should not surprise you to learn that Nigeria has a thriving agricultural sector. In fact, over the last few years, Nigeria’s agricultural sector has grown significantly.

Those experienced in farming and agriculture say that the only way for Nigeria’s agricultural sector to continue to develop is for the nation’s youth to develop a genuine interest in farming, providing more manpower and innovation to the industry.

This post will cover this topic in more detail, explaining everything you need to know about agricultural sector growth in Nigeria.

Agricultural Sector Growth in Nigeria

Main Produce

In Nigeria, the produce that’s farmed for domestic and international sale is diverse. It ranges from animal feed to crops for human consumption. The main crops farmed there (as in those farmed in the largest quantities, all for domestic sale) are maize, sorghum, cassava, rice, millet, and yam. It should therefore come as no surprise to you to learn that they are all staples of the traditional Nigerian diet. There is a large amount of livestock farming that takes place in Nigeria too, again, mostly for domestic use.

Domestic Farmers

Something that’s overlooked by a lot of people when studying farming and agriculture in Nigeria is that a staggeringly large percentage of the population farms their own produce, usually in their backyards. Up to 70% of Nigerian households practice crop farming. The most common household crops farmed are maize, cassava, sorghum, and yam. It is also very common for Nigerian households to raise livestock, too. Some households also practice fishing, although this is not as popular as it once was, mainly due to water pollution which is a big problem in Nigeria at this time. There is an ongoing scandal involving Shell, an oil supplier, and massive pollution in the Niger Delta.

Sector Growth

The agricultural industry is vital to Nigeria’s financial survival. In other words, the nation relies on domestic farming. According to Nigeria’s Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Mohammad Abubakar, in the first half of 2022, the agriculture sector contributed 23% to the nation’s GDP (Gross Domestic Product). Also in the second quarter of 2022, Nigeria’s agriculture sector grew by 1.2%. Unfortunately, however, this was down from 2021’s growth of 1.3%. Research by the IMF (International Monetary Fund) suggests that the reason Nigeria’s agriculture sector did not exceed 2021’s second-quarter gains was because of rising fertilizer costs and recent flooding. They also suggested that these two things could continue to negatively impact Nigeria’s agricultural production. All across the world at the moment, food prices are up. In Nigeria, this is also the case. If flooding does not cease and fertilizer prices do not fall, they will continue to rise, making food unaffordable for many of Nigeria’s inhabitants. However, because domestic farming is very prevalent, it will not impact the majority of Nigerians as harshly as it will impact others in West Africa.

Agricultural Products

Going back to agricultural products from Nigeria, it should be noted that the plants mentioned in the section titled ‘Main produce’ are not the only plants produced and sold in Nigeria. Nigeria is in fact the world’s largest producer of cassava. Up to 20% of the world’s cassava is Nigerian in origin. Nigeria is also responsible for the massive production of sesame, cashew nuts, cocoa beans, groundnuts, gum Arabic, kola nut, cocoa, melon, palm kernels, palm oil, plantains, rubber, soybeans, and bananas. The international trade in cashew nuts and sesame seeds has proven to be highly lucrative for Nigerian farmers. Ginger is also a very popular plant farmed in Nigeria and sold internationally.

Agricultural Sector Growth in Nigeria

Crop Division

In Nigeria, agricultural products can be divided into two distinct categories: edible crops sold for domestic use, and edible and non-edible crops exported. Much of Nigeria’s food supply is farmed domestically. In other words, most Nigerians eat Nigerian-grown food. However, some food is still imported from other countries, like bread for example. Before  Nigeria’s civil war, the country was entirely self-sufficient and did not rely on any other nations for their produce. It appears that the nation is trying to work back towards that, so they can reduce their reliance on international food suppliers.

Fertilizer Supplies

As mentioned previously, fertilizer prices are up at the moment. This is primarily due to the conflict that’s taking place in Ukraine, which is shaking the global fertilizer market. It should also be noted that rising oil prices are also making it very difficult for Nigerian farmers to farm using heavy machinery. Analysts are predicting that, at this time, fertilizer prices will continue to rise. In the future, they should fall or at least stabilize though, but until then, the agriculture sector in Nigeria will be on shaky ground.

Encouraging Agriculture

In this post’s introduction reference was made to the fact that in order for Nigeria’s agricultural sector to thrive, young people need to express an interest in it. In many respects, the same is true in all of the world’s countries. However, many Nigerian youths from rural areas are leaving their villages and family farms to go and live in large cities or move to Europe or the Americas. The exodus of rural youth is making it very difficult for family-run farms to sustain themselves. If there are no farmers, there can naturally be no crop production.

Future Growth

Despite rising fertilizer costs, analysts predict that Nigeria’s agricultural sector will continue to grow. While growth might not be as much as it has been in previous years, it will continue. It should be noted that it is also predicted that many Nigerians will begin farming at home if they are not already. By farming at home they will be able to grow their own food and avoid the rising food prices, which are becoming unaffordable in many of the world’s most developed nations, so will no doubt hit average Nigerian citizens extremely hard, putting them at risk of starvation.

Nigeria’s economy is growing. Things are hard at the moment due to fertilizer costs and flooding, but the agricultural sector is showing positive signs nonetheless. Many Nigerians grow crops at home. Those that don’t most certainly will in the coming years.

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