Sunday, November 06, 2016

Nigerian Agriculture

Nigeria is blessed in terms of natural endowments, i.e. land, water, live-stocks, etc. For instance, the semi-arid of the far north through the Guinea savannah of the north central to the thick mangrove forests of the south of Nigeria is cultivated with abundant varieties of fruits. Water melon, pineapple, pawpaw, citrus, banana, guava, mango and cashew, to name but a few, are the common fruits grown and harvested in abundance across the country. Each region of the country produces at least three of these seasonal fruits in commercial quantity. There are many reasons why northern Nigeria continues to hold the aces as far as food production is concerned compared to other states of the federation. Anyone who doubts the region’s ‘supremacy’ in the area of food production needs to visit any part of the north to erase every iota of doubt in his mind. Truth is the north still dominates the rest of the country in agriculture. Yes, if there is an area where the north literally suffers from an embarrassment of riches of some sort, it’s her rich heritage of agriculture resources including flora and fauna.

But the irony, however, is that much of this potential remains a mirage, because Nigeria still imports about $22billion worth of food annually, especially on foods that can otherwise be grown locally, namely: wheat, rice, dairy, fish and sundry items, including fresh fruits.

Estimates show that the country requires 6.3million tons of rice annually, but is only able to provide just about 2.3million tons, thus filling the gap with import. Ditto for wheat, whose domestic consumption is 4.7million tons but the country produces a paltry 60, 000 tons. Whereas the nation requires 2million tons of milk and dairy per annum, it is only able to produce a paltry 600, 000, leaving a shortfall of 1.4million, which is sourced from overseas market. The demand for tomato is 2.2million tons but the actual amount produced locally is 1.5million tons. But over 700, 000 tons is lost to post-harvest. The country also produces 4.5million oil palms but the local demand is 8.5million tons. Nigeria requires at least 3.6milliuon tons of cocoa, but it is only able to produce 250, 000 tons. The demand is 700, 000 while 200, 000 is produced for cotton and 7million tons with 6.2million tons is produced for sorghum.

The only crop the nation easily produces is maize/corn. While it requires 7.5million tons, it produces 7million tons. The country also has self-sufficiency in the production of yams. The nation requires 39million tons annually but produces 37million tons.

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