OF THE STUDY
Agriculture is concerned with the husbandry of crops and
animals for food and other purposes. It
is the foundation upon which the development of stable human communities, such
as rural and urban communities has depended on in many parts of the world. The study of economic history provides us
with ample evidence that an agricultural revolution is a fundamental
pre-condition for economic development.
The agricultural sector has the potentials to be the industrial and
economic springboard from which a country’s development can take off. Indeed, more often than not, agricultural
activities are usually concentrated in the less developed rural areas where
there is a critical need for rural transformation, redistribution, poverty
alleviation and socio-economic development.
The agricultural sector has the potentials to shape the
landscape, provide environmental benefits such as conservation, guarantee
sustainable management of renewable natural resources, preserve biodiversity
and contribute to the viability of rural areas.
Through its spheres of activities at both the macro and micro levels,
the agricultural sector is strategically positioned to have a high multiplier
and linkage effect on any nation’s quest for socio economic and industrial
The growth of the agricultural sector in Nigeria was not
Anyanwu (1967) held that during the colonial period between
1861 – 1960, attention was given to agricultural research and extension
services. Among the activities that was
done, the first was the establishment of a research station in Lagos by Sir
Claude McDonald in 1893. Landmarks of
10.4 km was acquired by the British Cotton Growing Association (BCGA) in 1899
for experimental purposes strictly for cotton and was named Moor Plantation in
In 1912, the Department of Agriculture was established in each
of the then Southern and Northern Nigeria, but the activities of the department
were virtually suspended between 1912 and 1921 as a result of the First World
War and its aftermath. The period 1929
and 1945 was a difficult one for the agricultural sector of Nigeria. This was the period of great depression when
the world prices on commodities fluctuated.
This affected the agricultural sector negatively because the volume of agricultural
produce increased but the value did not increase proportionately.
The period 1945 – 1954 marked the period of export boom,
because countries were just recovering from the Second World War and countries
that needed to develop their destroyed industrial sector were many. They depended on primary product for the
beginning stage of industrialization.
They needed to revitalize their industrial sector by demanding primary
goods. Prices of primary products rose
higher again because there were speculations that there would be a Third World
War due to the outbreak of the Korean War.
However, after this period, there came another period of price
instability. This made the reliance on
agriculture and its products to fall, leading to the establishment of a market
board. This board bought these products
from the local farmers and sold them overseas.
In spite of all the periods, Nigeria made a great revenue
from agriculture. In the
pre-Independence era, the agricultural sector contributed most to the GDP of
Nigeria. Helleiner (1966) said that in
1929, export production amounted to 57% of Nigeria’s revenue and in that 57%,
agriculture made up about 80% of the export.
On attainment of political independence in 1960, the trend was still
very much the same, the Nigerian economy could reasonably be described as an
agricultural economy, because agriculture served as the engine of growth of the
overall economy (Ogen, 2003: 231-234), from the stand point of occupational
distribution and contribution to the GDP.
Nigeria was the world’s second largest producer of cocoa, largest
exporter of palm oil. Nigeria was also a
leading exporter of other major commodities such as cotton, groundnut, rubber
and hides and skins (Alkali, 1997: 15-16).
Between 1964 – 1965, agriculture accounted for 55% of GDP and employed
70% of the adult workforce (Matton, 1981).
In 1970, agricultural export crops like cocoa, groundnut, cotton,
rubber, palm oil, palm kernel, etc. accounted for an average of between 65% –
75% of Nigeria foreign exchange earnings and provided the most important source
of revenue for the Federal as well as State governments through export products
and sale taxes (Ekundare 1973), despite the reliance of Nigerian peasant
farmers on traditional tools and indigenous faming methods, these farmers
produced 70% of Nigeria’s exports and 95% of its food needs (Lawal, 1997: 195).
However, the 1967 – 1970 Civil War in Nigeria coincided with
the ‘Oil Boom’ era, which resulted in extensive exploration and export of
petroleum and its products. This led
Nigeria to neglect its strong agriculture in favour of an unhealthy dependence
on oil (United States Department of State, 2005). Ever since then, Nigeria has been witnessing
extreme poverty and insufficiency of basic food items. The agricultural sector contributions now
account for less than 5% of Nigeria’s GDP (Olagbaju and Fashola, 1996:
263). It is against this back drop that
we set out to research on the impact of agricultural development on Nigeria