Agricultural Policy for Nigeria

INTRODUCTION

Before the decade of the 1960s, the dominant role of agriculture in Nigeria’s economy was taken for granted. With very little support from government, Nigerian
agriculture was able to grow at a sufficient rate to provide adequate food for an increasing population, raw materials for a budding industrial sector, increasing public revenue and foreign exchange for government and employment opportunities for an expanding labour force. The little support provided by government for agricultural development was concentrated on export crops like cocoa, groundnut, palm produce, rubber and cotton as self-sufficiency in food production seemed not to pose any problem worthy of public attention.
Indications of problems in the Nigerian agriculture, however, started to emerge as from the first decade of the country’s independence (1960 – 69). These indications were clearly evident from increasing food supply short-falls, rising food prices and declining foreign exchange earnings from agricultural exports. However, not much rational concern was shown because the problems were thought to be the temporary effects of a series of crises which eventually culminated in the civil war (1967 – 70).
The second decade of Nigeria’s independence (1970 – 79) witnessed a rapid deterioration in the country’s agricultural situation. Not only were there widening food supply-demand gaps and rising food import bills, there were also rapid declines in government revenue from agriculture, in foreign exchange earnings from agricultural exports and in the labour force required in agriculture. The situation was further compounded by the residual effects of the civil war, severe droughts in some parts of the country, government fiscal and monetary policies and above all, an “oil boom” which created serious distortions in the economy and accelerated the rate of migration of labour from agriculture.

In an effort to tackle these serious problems, government initiated a number of agricultural policies, programmes and projects, largely within the framework of three successive rational development plans from 1970 to 1974, from 1975 to 1980 and from 1981 to 1985. Experience from these policies, programmes and projects have however, convinced the government and all those concerned with agricultural development efforts in Nigeria that there is no alternative to well-designed and articulate agricultural policies as instruments for promoting agricultural growth and development in Nigeria.
It is therefore, in realization of this fact that the government has adopted a comprehensive package of policy instruments to further develop and improve the5 performance of the country’s agricultural sector. These policy instruments are expected to remain valid for about fifteen years that is up to year 2000 A.D.

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