10 Agricultural Challenges in Nigeria
Agriculture is a practice that is believed to be as old as man. It is the science and practice of growing all forms of crops and rearing different animals, mainly to provide food for the populace. Archeologists believe that agriculture began with the early men by accident during the prehistorical period.
The early men were hunters, wanderers, gatherers and lived in caves. They plucked fruits from trees to eat and disposed the seeds. Later, they began to realize that the seeds they disposed germinated and grew into trees that bore fruits instead of perishing.
This was how they began the practice of growing crops specifically for consumption. They also captured animals from forests and reared them in enclosed areas to be consumed later.
10 Agricultural Challenges in Nigeria
Nigeria is blessed in terms of natural resources to boost the economy. One is them is fertile land for agricultural practice. During the pre-independence era, Nigeria was known to be a hub of commercial agriculture. It was the largest producer of groundnut in Africa and one of the largest producer of cash crops like oil palm, cocoa, kolanut and so many others.
This feat was achieved as a result of agricultural resources like arable land, well distributed rainfall and perfect temperature. The government also played important roles in helping the sector to thrive. Nowadays, the sector faces a lot of challenges that has made many to conclude that agriculture is no longer profitable.
1. Lack of Finance
It is believed that money is needed to make more money. This also applies to the agricultural sector. Large amount of money is needed in order to get started. Money is needed by farmers to purchase seeds, fertilizers, feeds, machines, tools and several other materials needed in agriculture. Since farmers cannot raise such huge amount of money and banks charge high interest rate while still demanding collateral which they might not have, some farmers might drop the idea of farming, while a few will go into subsistence agriculture to provide for their family alone.
2. Inadequate Storage and Processing Facilities
Virtually all agricultural products can be processed into different forms and repackaged. Take for example, fruits like oranges can be processed into juice. But, processing them requires a large processing and packaging facility to store them. This kind of facility is hard to come by in a country like Nigeria and expensive to set up. Some of these fruits get spoilt and destroyed after a short while, thereby providing little returns to farmers.
3. Poor Transportation System
Most farms are located in rural areas because that is where fertile land can easily be gotten in this era of modernization. Road channels that connect these rural areas to urban areas and markets are usually undeveloped and rendered useless especially during the rainy season. This makes distribution of produce difficult and eventually lead to wastage and loss for farmers.
4. Poor Marketing System
There are no organized marketing channels for farm produce. Farmers just market their products and price them by chance thereby realizing little or no profit. Middlemen also hoard produce thereby causing hike in prices. This discourages new and existing farmers from going into more production since only little profit is realized.
5. Lack of Agricultural Education and Extension
Most of these farmers are illiterates and know little or nothing about the scientific aspect of farming. There are supposed to be some category of people called agricultural extension officers whose job is to educate and train farmers on new and proven farming techniques. But they are currently few of them in the country. This prevents farmers from understanding and adopting modern farming techniques to improve productivity.
There is currently an ongoing war between herdsmen and farmers in Nigeria. These herdsmen direct their cattle to farmlands to graze on crops planted by farmers. Whenever these farmers try to stop them, they get maimed or killed. This has caused many to decide to stay away from farming for fear of their lives.
7. Pest and Disease Outbreak
Virtually all farmers, both subsistent and commercial, experience pest and disease outbreak. When pest and diseases have access to a farmland, they attack both crops and livestock. This leads to low productivity and eventually little profit for farmers. Some farmers go bankrupt when this happen and might decide to stay away from the farming for fear of reoccurrence.
8. Unpredictable Climatic and Weather Condition
Weather and climate both deal with the atmospheric condition of a place. Yield of crops and livestock depend on weather and climate. Low rainfall or too much rainfall or sunshine intensity can cause a decline in the productivity of crops and farm animals. Since weather is unpredictable, farmers depend on chance for good harvest. When the weather is unfavorable, yield is always low, and profit will be affected. This has discouraged may farmers from expanding their business.
9. Inadequate Tools and Machines
Farm tools like hoe, cutlass etc. are manufactured locally. They get damaged easily since they do not meet up to standards. This makes farmers spend more on the procurement of basic farm tools. For farmers going into commercial agriculture, using basic farm tools makes output very low. Purchasing farm machines to help solve this is not always feasible as they are very expensive, while their spare parts are not readily available since they are imported. This has also discouraged many people from going into agriculture.
10. Environmental Degradation
Agriculture is carried out on land. Several other activities like mining also take place here too. This destroys good and fertile land that could have been used for agriculture. Oil spillage is also another form of environmental degradation. Crude oil from burst pipes flow into farmlands and ponds thereby causing pollution and reducing the profit of farmers. This is a great challenge faced by farmers in the Niger Delta region.