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The Importance Of Agriculture To Nigeria Environmental Sciences Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Environmental Sciences
Wordcount: 5315 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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Agriculture is the engine that stimulates economic change in a nation development; Agriculture occurs when people begin planting and cultivating crops. It is said to be nature’s food web and the rechaneling of energy for human planting and animal consumption. To simplify, agriculture involves redirecting nature’s natural flow of the food web.

Nigeria is very blessed with agriculture resources, and if you recall, this is what the green colour symbolizes in our nation’s flag. Most parts of the country experience rich soil, and good rainfall, not to mention the warm year, round temperature. About 80% of the land is cultivable, and about 13% of the land is forested, and livestock are also maintained by farmers.

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In the 1960’s agriculture was the foundation for the nation’s economy and Nigeria was self sufficient in terms of food. Before the discovery of oil, our economy was sustained by agriculture. The sector remains the largest contributor to the Nigerian economy, accounting for over 38% of the non-oil foreign exchange earning and employing about 70% of the active labour force of the population.

Although, the sector has suffered much neglect since the discovery of petroleum in commercial quantity in 1958 but its importance cannot be over emphasized in the nation’s economy. Data shows that at independence in 1960 the contribution of agriculture to the GDP was about 60%, which is typical for developing agrarian nations. In 1998, Agriculture was said to have contributed an estimated 32% of Gross Domestic Product (DGP) to Nigerian economy and an estimated 32 percent of labour force was employed. In 2006 contributed 43% to GDP of US $142 billion and employed 70% of the population.

The importance of Agriculture is so numerous but to mention a few. People depend on a wide range of Agricultural products in almost all aspects of life. It is a key economic driver. It is central to individual livelihoods and alleviates poverty. Provider of energy fuel-wood and medical plants, it helps in Nations economic growth, e.g. Agriculture contributes between 40 and 60% of the GDP of many African Countries. Agriculture is a key to healthy biosphere, it provide food, which is a key determinant of human health. In general the contribution of Agriculture sector provide food incremental markets for new products manufactured in the industrial sector, it has contributed immensely on the supply of new materials to other sectors, tax revenue to the Government to provide Foreign exchange.

Having seen some of the importance of Agriculture, how then do we attain 70% growth in Agriculture sector each year? To achieve growth, bold steps must be taken towards changing our orientation on Agriculture and reversing the trend. For long we have merely been paying lip service to the revival of Agriculture as the main stay of our economy. It is on the drive to bring back the past glories of Agriculture and use it to complement our oil earning: that we came up with the initiative tagged “Quest to achieved food sufficiency”.



Quest to achieved food sufficiency is a way of making sure our food, Fibers, energy and recreational opportunities cheap, sufficient high quality and safe. Quest to achieve food sufficiency is the availability of food or food in excess. This can be accomplished by involving Nigerian youths in farming. That is inculcating the sense of participation in Agricultural sector. Gone are the days where farming is left for retired workers and those in the rural areas.

Food is the most essential thing in mans’ live. According to Abraham Maslow an industrial psychologist, came up with the theory of physiological needs of man and top on the list was the desire for food as the basic need. According to him, after a man has satisfied his need for food, he beings to crave for clothing and then for shelter.

Today food which is the basic need of man is readily unavailable all over talk less of man being satisfied with it. This as whole led to ‘world food crisis’ and no country is unaffected. Particularly years, 2007-2008 saw dramatic rises in world food price, creating a global crisis and causing political and economical instability and social unrest in both poor and developed nations.

Although it is almost impossible to pinpoint the exact cause of soaring food price, experts have placed the blame on rising fuel costs, lower agricultural production, weather shocks, more meat consumption, shifts to bio-fuel crops and bad policies.

The hike in food price, threaten to increase malnutrition. Malnutrition impairs the ability to lean or to work and reduces resistance to disease. Hunger is a cause of poverty.

Last week UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) reported that 963 million people are now hungry, which means another 40 million people have been pushed into hunger. In addition, child mortality (about 3.5 children die yearly) is attributed to malnutrition since children’s health and cognitive development is sensitive to the overall development. Yet, in the face of this poverty and hunger, our work force is not left untouched or unaffected as this poverty and hunger reduces productivity.


Nigeria has never had food security. It has as usual been importing rice, beans and other food items. Since the sources of supplied of these importation are in food crisis it has a spill over effect on Nigeria.

The most silent area is that food price will be on the high side, and result to low quantity of food to be import thereby, causing instability in the country economic, social and political sector. Many will starve to death, crime rate will be on the high side, and the rate of poverty will be extremely high.

To avert possible food crisis in Nigeria serious, practical and effective implementation needs to be taking in agriculture sector.

Poverty in Nigeria is predominantly rural. Of all Nigerians who are poor, nearly two-third lives in rural areas. For the near future therefore, reducing poverty in Nigeria will depend largely on stimulating rural growth. The most powerful engine of rural growth is agricultural growth, because agriculture has important forward and backward linkages to the local economy on both the production and the consumption side.

This will in turn make Nigeria to be sufficient in food and agricultural production, and join the league of industrialized nations by the year 2020 because, agriculture is and has always been a major player in the game of industrial revolution.


Mechanization of the agricultural industry is the way out of solving Nigeria’s problem instead of the tractorization belief by some. Moreover, this can be achieve by matching up human input with mechanization, bringing in machinery and increase the scale of production, so that whatever you produce will match the population growth rate.

No doubt, Nigeria soil is rich and the climate good enough to grow nearly all kinds of food crop anybody can think of. What is required is to get an expert that will manage the soil.

Some areas might not belief in tractorization but the use of animal plough, the best is to improve on the technique so you can accelerate their production rate. Some areas have zero tillage, you plant and it will germinate, that kind of place does not need tractors but planters. In addition, part of mechanization plan that is proper is to plan for irrigation itself to water the plant where there is no rain.

There is need for improvement on subsistent farmers as record has it that 95% of agriculture product is from then. Subsistent farmers cultivate not more than four hectares. To move from the level of subsistent farming to scale farming, mechanization input must be there.

The average yield of maize crop in Nigeria is 3.5 tones per hectare, compared to 8.6 tones per hectare in developed countries. This is very low and cannot be equal with the work force. With this low yield, commercial agriculture is hard to come by.

From the global experience its suggests that the path ways along which commercial agriculture can develop, is by successful model ranging from highly diversified systems made up of small holders who deeply involved in commercial production to more specialized systems made up of large-scale mechanized farmers who produce exclusively for the market.

Mechanized farming is an easy or stress free farming and the yield is far higher than hoe/merchant farming. It goes along way attracting the youths


One of the factors that threatened the sustainability of agriculture is the lack of involvement of our youth in it. It is becoming increasingly difficult to attract our youth in agricultural pursuits.

The average age of persons involved in domestic agriculture is 50-65 years old and without increased participation from our youth, by the year 2014, the average age range of agriculture producers will be approximately 65-70 years.

The contribution of the youth is essentially important in the development of rural areas. The youth are essential human beings in the development of rural areas. Studies have shown that rural areas, especially in developing countries like Nigeria, have high population ratio when compared to the urban centre.

Youths in this context has been defined as individuals’ male or female above ten but below forty-five years. Indeed, the vital source of work force for development is seen within this range.

The employment rate in this country is very low. According to United Nations, population found, approximately three million people in Nigeria, mainly youths, move into the labour market annually with just few getting jobs. These young Nigerians can be re-trained in agriculture sector.

When we groom our young people in the process of domestic agriculture, it will in turn develop the rural areas, which is the root of economic upliftment for the nation.

The YPAD initiated “QUEST TO ACHIEVED FOOD SUFFICIENCY” in order to involve young people in agriculture sector. This is a yearly program. The program provides the opportunity for development of practical skills in the areas of farm management, production and marketing of crops, livestock, as well as the business administration of a successful farm enterprise.


The MDGs are simply targets and indicators to measure the progress in achieving the eradication of poverty, achieving universal access to primary education, promoting gender parity and women empowerment, reducing child mortality, improve maternal health, combating HIV/AIDS and other diseases, ensure environmental sustainability, developing a global partnership for development.

This project was signed in 2000 about nine years ago, with just six years reach 2015. The impact in agric sector is not visible like in the aspect of HIV/AIDS.

The YPAD initiative is concentrating on youths and youths are in the vanguard of change. This program will contribute to the achievement of some of the MDGs goals such as, eradication of poverty by being self-employed, promoting gender parity and empowerment of women by giving equal opportunity to the female youth. Areas such as reducing of child mortality improve maternal health; ensure environmental sustainability and developing a global partnership for development will feel the impact.

This project will be cited in the rural areas, since it has been revealed that the youth constitute the highest percentage of the rural population. The development of rural areas in developing countries is the root of economic upliftment for the nation.


The Yar’adua 7-point agenda is the vehicle designed by the administration to take Nigeria to a state where the necessary infrastructure will be in place for our collective benefit. It’s expected, that, the Nigerian economy would become one of the top 20 in the world by 2020 through the agenda. That means we are aiming at a growth rate of 13 percent per year in the next twelve years and must be sustained to remain in the big league.

The seven elements of the agenda are Energy/Power, Security/Niger Delta, Wealth Creation, Food Security, Education/Human Capital Development, Transportation/Mass Transit and Land Reforms. This project is designed to improve the general well being of the citizens and taking Nigeria to the biggest 20 economies in the world by the year 2020.

To attain growth rate of 13% annually, some sectors that leads to export of its products has to be consider. And one of this sector include agriculture which could earn the country over 60% GPD annually which is one of the objective of YPAD.

This program will touch the lives of many Nigerian’s and see to the contribution towards the success of 7-point agenda.



We have mapped out strategic plans of inculcating unemployed youths into farming sectors. This plan has worked in the entertainment industry and today the entertainment industry is known all over the country.

Massive awareness would be created through media, posters, handbill, signpost, billboard, Local government offices etc. whereby some unemployed youths who are willing to go into farming business or who want to be self-employed will be encouraged to come out in mass and register.

The registration will take place in any of the banks within the country for the period of two months only. Immediately after registration audition commences, only twenty five persons will be short listed to participate in the program.

Land will be allocating to the twenty-five candidates. Since this is our first time, we intend to start with only twenty-five persons, five per group that is forming only five groups.

The program is expected to last for only three months. During this period participants will be accommodated and well catered for. At the end of the third month, harvesting will take place. They will be judge base on the quantities of their farm product. The participants are to undergo series of lecture such as farm management, keeping of farm record, pest control, storage and preservation of farm products and entrepreneurship.

In order to make the program more attractive, participants will pay visit to farms, organization and some personnel.


Without land for cultivation, this project cannot be achieved. Acquiring land for cultivation is one of the major challenges most youth encounter. There is no doubt Nigeria is blessed with verse land. From research, it was estimated that 79 million hectares out of Nigeria’s total land area of about 91million hectares were arable. However, only about 32 million hectares (or 46% of the cultivable area) were being cultivated out of which 90% of agricultural output is accounted for household with less than two hectares under cropping. The remaining land are left uncultivated these lands can be cultivated by Nigeria’s youth if given the chance and means.

Three states are chosen namely FCT, Niger and Nasarawa States. But only one out of the three states wills this event take place and this depends on the availability of land.

Consolation Prices:

To make the program more interesting and Competitive, there is going to be prize for the best group, as well as other groups.

After harvesting the group with the highest yield have be sponsored for next farming season. The idea of introducing prize is to enhance their performance, help to bring out the best in each participant.


The farm products belong to the participants. The instructors will teach the participants how to preserve their farm products and expose them to the buyers.



Since this is going to be the first event we intended to start with maize and cowpea. Maize is grown virtually in all parts of the country; it is grown more in the middle belt and in the north central.


Maize (zea mays) is an annual plant which belongs to family Gramineae and Genus zea. Zea mays L. have a normal Chromosome complement of ten pairs. It is divided into seven groups. The classification is based largely on the character of the kernels. Maize is a warm weather plant. It grows from sea level to 300 metre altitudes. The most suitable temperature for germination is 21oc and for growth 32oc. Fifty to Sixty centimeters of well distributed rain is conducive to proper growth.

Maize is a cereal plant that produces grains that can be cooked, roasted, fried, ground, pounded or crushed to prepare various food items. Apart from direct human consumption maize is also useful as medicines and as raw materials for industries such as breweries, pharmaceutical companies, baby cereals, livestock feeds and other industries.

The global production of maize is estimated to about 300 Million tones per year.

In Nigeria, its production is quite common in all parts of the country, form the north to the south, with an annual production of about 5.6 Million tones.

Until recent years, the bulk of maize grain produced in Nigeria was from the south-west zone. It was reported that western Nigeria generally produced about 50% of Nigeria grain maize, the remaining 50% being split between the north and east. Although large proportion of the grain maize is still produce form the south-western part, there has been a dramatic shift of dry grain production to the savanna, especially the Northern Guinea savanna i.e. the Middle and Northern belt of Nigeria where sunshine is adequate and rainfall is moderate. Under these conditions, storage of grains can be accomplished without much damage from insect pests.

In these zones farmers tends to prefer maize cultivation to sorghum. This trend may have been brought about for several reasons including availability of streak resistant varieties for all ecological zones in Nigeria, availability of high yielding hybrid varieties, increase in maize demand coupled with the federal Government imposed ban on importation of rice, maize and wheat. Local production had to be geared up to meet the demand for direct human consumption and industries.

The name maize is derived from the South American Indian Arawat – Carib word Mahiz. It is also known as Indian corn or corn in America. It was introduced into Nigeria probably in the 6th century by the Portuguese. Today maize crop covers about 1Milion hectare out of a Million hectares it occupied in Africa and it is the second most important cereal crop in Nigeria. The two varieties of maize are Hybrid and composite but for now we are making do with composite maize.


Land clearing must be carried out with minimal displacement of the topsoil. It requires judicious use of heavy machinery coupled with sound soil conservation measures that will preserve the soil fertility status, which varies under long – term fallow vegetation. Minimum tillage is a feasible way of sustaining high soil fertility under intensive maize farming.


Sowing date is an essential component of crop management. Yields decline with lateness of planting after an optimum time, usually the start of the rains. Response of varieties to other inputs is dependent upon planting time. Optimum planting in each of the major agro – ecological zones of Nigeria falls with these following ranges.

Forest Zone – Mid April – 2nd Week in May

Forest – Savanna Transition – 3rd Week in April – 3rd Week in May.

Northern Guinea Savanna – Last Week in May – 1st Week in June

Sudan Savanna – First – 2 Weeks in June


Maize is best adapted to well drain Sandy loam to silty loam soils. Water stagnation is extremely harmful to the crop; therefore, proper drainage is a must for the success of the crop especially during Kharif season. Maize will not thrive on heavy clays, especially lowlands. It can be grown successfully in soil whose PH ranges from 5.5 to 6.5


For good growth and high yield, the maize plant must be supplied with adequate nutrients particularly nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium.


Although several diseases have been identified on maize in Nigeria, only few of them significantly reduce maize yields. They are maize streak, downy mildew, maize mottle/chlorotic stunk, curvularia leaf spot, stalk and ear rots.

In order to make farming economically feasible, resistant line were bred and made available to farmers. With these efforts, maize streak, smut and rust have been kept under control.

Genes for downy mildew resistance has been incorporated into streak resistant varieties.

Scientists in Nigeria have developed high – yielding disease resistant /tolerant maize varieties. The newly developed varieties of maize have between 90 and 95% resistance to the pathogen without extra fungicide protection.

Striga hermonthica is a threat to increased maize production in Nigeria particularly in the high – yield potential savanna zone. Scientists have identified some inbreed and hybrids that have consistently demonstrated tolerance to S. hermonthica under heavy infestation also reported that the use of NPK and urea fertilizers as effective means of controlling S. hermonthica in maize field.


Weeds cause severe yield reduction in maize in Nigeria because they complete with the crop for nutrients. Water and light weed controls is the most expensive operation in traditional maize farming since it is procured manually. Often, the labour is too expensive causing many farmers to abandon weed control thereby resulting in very low yields.


There has been a renewed interest in the use of natural plant products in the protection of stored agricultural product against insect pest in storage.

The use of plant products in form of powders in the management of stored products coleopteran is the most convenient, the powders are easy to apply, and the commodities remain clean after treatments. Moreover, the moisture contents of plants have been used successfully for the control of different species of stored product pests.


Maize grain production in Nigeria would have at least double from 7m metric tones in 2004 to 14.0M metric tones by 2007 or 21.0M metric tones by 2010.

Public/Private synergy for enhanced production established.

Role of Nigeria as a lead player in disaster mitigation strengthened.

Income generation, wealth creation, poverty reduction and improved food security through maize farming and related agribusiness improved.


Cowpea is one of the most ancient crops known to man. Its origin and subsequent domestication is associated with pearl millet and sorghum in Africa.

It is now a broadly adapted and highly variable crop, cultivated around the world primarily for seed, but also as a vegetable, a cover crop and for fodder. Cowpea has a number of common names, including crowder pea, black-eyed pea and southern pea.

It is known internationally as lubia, niebe, coupe or feijole. However, they are all the species Vigna unguiculata (L) walp, in older references may be identified as vigna sinensis (L). The largest production is in Africa, with Nigeria and Niger predominating.

World wide production of cowpeas is approximately 20Million acres. Cowpea is considered more tolerant to drought than Soya beans and better adapted to sandy soils. Many cultivars have a vining growth habit or bush type cultivars. But bush type is better suited for direct combining.


All cultivated cowpea varieties are considered warm season and adapted to heat and drought conditions. Cowpeas typically reach a canopy height of 30 to 36 inches, although the more determinate bush types may reach only 24 inches. The seed pods are borne above the leaf axil, making the pods very visible. The seeds pod is typically 3 to 6 inches long and has 6 to 13 seeds per pod. The seed weight per bush is 60 pounds with about 3,000 to 4,000 seeds per pound.


The fresh type referred to as southern peas are shelled green and the peas can be cooked fresh and canned or frozen for later use, but there is also consumption of the whole pea pod as a fresh vegetable. While the dried beans is frequently sold directly to the consumer after cleaning or freezing.

Cowpea is consider nutritious with a protein content of about 23%, fat content of 1.3%, fiber content of 1.8%, carbohydrate content of 67% and water content of 8 – 9%. As in most legumes, the amino acid profile complements cereal grains.


For optimum yield, cowpeas should be planted in early June, although planting dates from late – may through mid – June are appropriate.

The bush types yield better on closer row spacing. The seed should be planted similar to soybeans at 1 to 11/2 inches deep.


As a legume, cowpea fixes its own nitrogen and does not need nitrogen fertilizer. Infact, some of the vigorous, vining, varieties of cowpeas are excellent nitrogen producers as a cover crop. The soil PH should be 6.0 or higher.


The major insect pest is cowpea curculio, and the major disease is root – knot, a severe root disease induced by root – knot nematodes (melo dogyne spp) but active breeding has taken place for resistant varieties.


Growing cowpea is fairly straight forward, with management practices being similar to soybeans. Proper site selection is important. Cowpea is well – adapted to sandy soils, and will perform well on rich, well drained soils, but should not be grown on wet or poorly drained soils.


Cowpea has out standing potential for intercropping and crop rotation. In Africa, cowpea has been intercropped for a longtime with various other crops such as maize, groundnuts, millet and other grins.

Report shows that 98% of cowpea grown in Africa is intercropped.

Cowpea can be intercropped with taller plants, such as maize, particularly in high rainfalls areas, due to their exceptional shade tolerance. They are also outstanding as straight rotational crop because of their susceptibility to root – knot nematodes and their beneficial effect on subsequent maize crops, which lasts even for the second succeeding crop.


Higher total yields then sole crop yields, probably due to less intraspecific competition.

Greater yield stability

More efficient utilization of environmental resources

Better weed control

Provision of insurance against crop failure.

Improved quality provided by variety

Maize as a sole crop requires a larger area to produce the same yield as the maize component in an intercropping system.





About 10,000 hectares located at Yangoji, Dafa, Tungan Galadima, Kwali Area Council all in FCT.

The land is lease at N510, 000/hectare for 50years. For 25hectare it will cost N12, 750,000. But there is provision for mortgage finance option whereby the same land is used as collateral. With mortgage finance we are allowed to pay 50% (N6, 625,000.00) and spread the remaining payment within a particular period. The land can be renewed after 50years. No doubt, the mortgage finance scheme is preferred.






Accommodation: Three bedroom flat for 25 persons




Carpet for the three rooms

6 room



Rug in the seating room




Six spring student mattresses








21″ Flat screen Television












Ceiling fans




Generator of 1.5kv Yamaha







Announcement/airing on Electronic Media 4,500,000.00

Newspaper: Full page three times for three weeks 1,134,000.00

Posters 500,000.00

Banners 500,000.00

Hand bill 200,000.00

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Bill board 3,000,000.00

TOTAL N9, 334,000.00



Three hundred naira per meal, for three square meal per person in a day it is N900 (nine hundred naira) – N300/meal/N900/person/day.

Three square meal for twenty five persons in a day cost N22, 500 (twenty two thousand five hundred) – N22, 500/twenty five persons/three square meal/day.

Twenty five persons in ninety days N2, 025,000.00 (two million twenty five thousand naira) – N2, 025,000/twenty five persons/ninety days

Bottle water N500, 000.00

TOTAL N2, 525,000.00







Maize seed (ACR 97)










Apron star


Pest Control/weeding




Apron star (seed greasing): for slurry seed, treatment, fungicide, insecticide and seed treatment.


Plant nutrients involve organic and inorganic nutrients.




Unit Price/Bag(N)

Amount (N)

Fertilizer (15:15:15) NPK

6 bags

150 bags



Urea (20:10:10)

2 bags

50 bags



Organic nutrients/manure









Hoes (Galma)








Tractor (Hiring for 3days)




Planter (plating for 3day)






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