How Nigeria’s agriculture can drive development

How Nigeria’s agriculture can drive development
4 min read

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I recently worked my way through some notes from speaking engagements to put together my thoughts on my website. In the process, I came across notes on the untapped potential within Nigeria’s agricultural sector – I grew up in Nigeria, so I know the important role agriculture plays in the shadows here. Some of these notes are from years ago, and even then, I was sure that we, as Nigerians, would see the opportunities and pursue them in the near future.

While we continue to make progress, I still feel we have so much further to go.

Properly harnessed, I feel agriculture has the ability to improve job rates, build the economy and increase stability in Nigeria and Africa as a whole.

The problem

We often underestimate farming as a career choice. Our younger generations see it as ‘back breaking-labour’, with little to no yields. While I want to encourage them to follow their passions, I think they often choose their careers paths based on false information. We don’t properly convey farming as a career to our youth and as a result we disadvantage them and ourselves.

As Feyi Fawehinmi says:

There’s a lot of potential in agriculture for Nigeria. Not just to feed and employ people or to save Forex, but to help people develop skills that can then be transferred elsewhere as the economy develops and becomes more complex.

While agriculture has been around forever, in the new technology age, the face of it has changed. It’s a skill-based field with chances to streamline your work after turning an initial profit. We need to think of agriculture as the business that it is. Over the next few decades, I suspect the agriculture I grew up around will look completely different than the new one chalked full of technology and automation.

A wealth of resources

Nigeria sits on a gold mine in terms of farming potential, yet we haven’t seen a rush to the industry.

As Ade Adefeko describes it:

Nigeria has 84 million hectares of arable land and less than a third of that is cultivated. Nigeria possesses nearly 279 billion cubic meters of surface water, yet potential sources of irrigation from two of the major rivers in Africa – the Niger and Benue rivers – remain unexploited.” 

We have so much uncultivated potential. Our land and these resources stand as a wealth of opportunity for both people and our Nigerian economy.

Recently, I spoke a lot about the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and how important I think these are for the success of Nigeria. Equally important, I think we need to consider which industries can buffer these initiatives and which industries we need to further cultivate in order to achieve the SDGs by 2030.

When it comes to cultivating the agriculture sector, I think we are on the right track.

As Victor Ekwealor says:

Around the world, businesses involved with food usually have the lowest entry barriers and are also some of the most profitable. Because of this, there is an abundance of start-ups and SMEs in Nigeria delivering fresh food; there seems to be a new one everyday.” 

The fact of the matter is, this industry, while it may receive a cosmetic makeover, is not going anywhere, because everyone eats. Now as we move toward 2030, let’s focus on using these resources and opportunities to our advantage.

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