The Agriculture sector in Nigeria has huge potentials that have not been fully harnessed. The sector has in fact gone through various phases of development that involved policies and agricultural programs. Every policy and agricultural development in Nigeria are set up with the aim of increasing the impact of the sector on national development. Different governments have gone on to initiate several agricultural policies and programs to ramp up agricultural productivity in Nigeria. An agricultural programme entails a comprehensive plan that includes the aims and objectives to be attained in the agricultural sector, the resources required and other activities to be performed in order to achieve certain goals in the agricultural sector. The use of agricultural programs as a tool to achieve productivity in Nigeria dates back to the colonial era and even many more programs have been set up after that. In spite of all this, it is generally accepted that Nigerian agriculture is underdeveloped. These programs have different nomenclatures but generally have the same objectives such as:
- Provision of food for the inhabitants of the nation
- To achieve food security and sufficiency
- To boost foreign exchange via the export of excess agricultural produce to other countries
- To provide rural dwellers and farmers with support and other development services.
This article addresses the problems of agricultural programs in Nigeria.
Problems of Agricultural Programmes in Nigeria
Read on below:
Non-involvement of stakeholders
In order to achieve a successful agricultural program, there need to be adequate relations among all stakeholders (agencies, ministries, and private bodies) from the moment of planning through to the implementation of the programmes. Often times, researchers, experts and most importantly farmers in rural areas are usually ignored during the process of planning agricultural development programmes. This should not be so because these ones are in better positions to give advice and recommendations that will help formulate programmes that will meet the specific needs of the farmers.
Weak agricultural policies
Regional agricultural policies are often inconsistent with national policies. It is important that state and national stakeholders relate properly so that agriculture policies and programmes would work harmoniously and not against themselves. It is only when this happens that we can ensure the success of agricultural programmes. The strategies, targets, goals, and specific objectives of an agricultural programme should also be well defined and spelt out to ensure its success.
Inadequate monitoring and evaluation of programmes
Often times, proper evaluation of the program is not done to determine if the purpose of the program is achieved. Agricultural policies and programs need to be properly monitored and evaluated to ensure its effectiveness.
Lack of access to funds
Most agricultural programs depend on the disbursement of loans to farmers. However, most of these farmers complain about not being to access these funds. This is sometimes due to the inability of some farmers to form co-operatives which then makes them unable to participate in the program. Agricultural programmes in Nigeria need to be backed up with increased financial assistance and provide means for farmers to access such funds.
Non-continuation of Agricultural programs
Often times, when a new government comes into power, they discard whatever policy or program the previous government had to go. For example, with the National Accelerated Food Production Programme (NAFPP), the federal government abruptly withdrew funds because of the introduction of another programme called Operation Feed the Nation. The previous program then ceased to exist. We need to ensure continuity and continual implementation of previous agricultural programs by the future government in order to see the full and positive impact on the economy. Most governments are eager to have a new program or initiative to their name and thus discard old ones even when the new one set up is just the same as the old one. This is a major hindrance to the success of agricultural programmes in Nigeria.
Many agricultural programs in Nigeria have failed because due research was not done before it was embarked upon. Under the Operation Feed the Nation (OFN) program of 1976, farming was done on any available piece of land, not minding whether it was suitable for agriculture or not. Many participants in the programme also had little or no background in farming. There were also no formal or informal preparatory classes given to participants on how to manage their farms. Most farmers practiced mono-cropping instead of mixed cropping, relied on hired labour to carry out their farming activities, which resulted in a high cost of input and did not match the output. Still, under this program, there was an abundance of food in the market which did not match the demand because many people produced most of the food they consumed. These are problems that plague many agricultural programs in Nigeria. The lack of access to markets has remained a persistent problem that has made the idea of farming and local investments less appealing. National agricultural programmes should be selected based on a well-researched structure that will be sustainable and achieve national agricultural development.
Delay in the execution of agricultural projects
Often times, projects involved in agricultural programmes are not executed on time. This then affects the cost of execution due to factors such as inflation. Often times, the projects are then abandoned.
Mismanagement of funds
Often times, agricultural projects are not properly monitored, which then leads to a waste of funds.
Shortage of fund
Often times, funds are not guaranteed due to factors such as a fall in revenue generation due to decline in oil prices. Shortage of funds leads to a myriad of other problems such as the inability to purchase the necessary equipment needed. A shortage of funds also leads to a delay in the implementation of agricultural projects.
The poor quality of infrastructures in the agricultural sector can be traced to embezzlement and mismanagement of fund to be used for the purpose of the program.
Lack of modern storage facilities
Unfortunately, the majority of farmers in Nigeria still make use of the crude method of farming. Storage facilities and farming equipment have not improved much. This leads to losses and less output than should be. Lack of infrastructural development leads to stagnation in the agricultural sector.