The agricultural sector of Nigeria is seen to be steadily developing. In 2016, it grew by 4% despite the contraction of the country’s real GDP. Because of its 26% fiscal contribution—the largest made by a single sector that year—the Nigerian economy slowly came out of recession.
Agriculture is one of the most prominent sectors in Nigeria. In fact, according to reports, 67% of all jobs in the country is in the agricultural sector. The main commodities in the country are comprised of yams, cassava, maize, palm oil, sorghum, rice, groundnuts, and cocoa. Agriculture was so big that in 2016, Nigeria was recognized as the world’s largest producer of yams and cassava.
Due to this growth, agriculture in Nigeria is now considered as a sector that needs to be highlighted and supported. To drive economic growth and diversification, the federal government now sees this sector as the key to attaining a viable alternative to its oil-dependency.
However, despite the government’s efforts to focus on the agricultural sector for growth and development, there are still many challenges that farmers face. The lack of mechanisms such as financial institutions where farmers could get hold of aid to fund their inputs is crippling farming operations and hinders the further growth of livelihood especially for smallholder farmers in communities.
Another challenge that the farmers face is the effects of extreme climate change. Mitigating these effects of a global phenomenon as such can be quite difficult due to the fact that traditional practices are not climate-resilient. Having to adopt new agricultural processes can also be difficult in terms of information dissemination. At the same time, having to change inputs like fertilizers and pesticides can prove to be a challenge as well. And most of the time, the lack of access to running water and electricity makes irrigation a constant concern for Nigerian farmers.
Having adequate infrastructure is definitely a challenge as well. Storing and handling commodities without tools and secure space is a problem these farmers are all too familiar with.
For post-harvest management, having a system that reduces quality and quantity loss is one of the most pressing struggles the farmers encounter. Many of them simply store their harvested crops in polypropylene sacks, which do not offer much protection against moisture and insect infestations. Mold growth is often a common occurrence as well with this setup.
One way of addressing these post-harvest difficulties is through the use of innovative post-harvest solutions like hermetic technology. Using air- and moisture-tight storage ensures that no mold or insect can cause damage to the stored commodities. This results in higher quality and quantity of goods. This also translates to the increase in profits and a more secure household income of the smallholder farmers and their communities.
In conclusion, boosting the activity and support in the agricultural sector can revive the economy of a country and uplift the very lives of its farmers. Through renewed government support, proper tools, mechanisms, and adequate infrastructure, the agricultural sector of Nigeria can drive the economy to greater heights.
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