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  AGRICULTURE   The wealth of a nation is partially measured by its ability to guarantee its citizenry food security.In…

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Rediscover Nigeria Agriculture



The wealth of a nation is partially measured by its ability to guarantee its citizenry food security.In the year 2004 alone, the country spent over US$4billion importing food that could otherwise have been grown locally. Top on the list of current imports are the following:-

RICE                                FISH

WHEAT                            VEGETABLE OIL

MILK                                SUGAR


The neglect of agriculture is principally as a result of the discovery of oil which swelled the coffers of government.

Before 1970, agriculture was Nigeria's backbone. The chief export crops were:-

OIL PALM                           COCOA

RUBBER                              COTTON

GROUNDNUTS                    HIDES AND SKIN


The advantage agriculture brought was that all parts of the country were productive and there was value for money earned from hard work.

The neglect of agriculture and the resultant migration of healthy hands from the rural areas to Nigeria's urban centres in search of menial jobs have led to the country becoming a massive importer of food.

Subsistence farming, non-application of modern research findings, utilization of old and discarded farming methods and lack of long term finance for agriculture and food processing have all combined to reduce Nigeria's ability to produce her own food. Realizing the danger this portends and in line with the nation's economic reforms, Presidential Initiatives have been put together to boost agriculture and save scarce resources for the nation.


To protect domestic poultry farmers, a ban was placed in 2003 on the importation of frozen poultry products. By 2005, the infrastructure that was previously lying fallow had picked up and Nigeria is now producing sufficient eggs for domestic consumption. The bird flu which affected many parts of Europe and Asia found its way into Nigeria leaving a trail of heavy losses to poultry farmers. The outbreak is being curtailed with various intervention measures and support from the Federal Government. The initial fear that gripped consumers of poultry products has been overcome. Opportunities still exist for big time poultry farmers to add value and create opportunities for competitive export to other African countries.


There is equally a Presidential Initiative on cassava. The far-fetched result is that Nigeria exports cassava to countries of the Far East and China. The opportunity in the cassava initiative is that it can be grown in practically all parts of Nigeria. There is a huge international demand for the product and its various bye-products while there is abundant land for its cultivation. The domestic market has been significantly expanded by a government policy that all local flour products (especially bread) must have a 10% Cassava component. The increasing demand for processing Cassava into bio-fuels creates tremendous opportunities


The Presidential Initiative on rice equally seeks to eliminate the huge bill the nation incurs on rice importation. Within two years of this initiative, the import bill on the product has gone down by 40%. A surcharge on all imported rice is helping to fund this initiative which is re-engaging rice farmers in more than 20 states of the Federation. With improved varieties from Research Institutes and good extension services, Nigeria has the potential of becoming a major Rice exporter over the next ten years.


The National Institute for Oil Palm Research (NIFOR) is overwhelmed by requests for oil palm nurseries in a renewed bid by many State Governments to kick start oil palm production. The new and improved varieties of seedling and nurseries with capability for bearing oil within four years are a far cry from the traditional seedlings which require about eight years.

The industrial applications of palm oil create very wide markets for prospective investors. Oil palm grows in mainly the rain forest areas but marginally in some savannah regions bordering the rain forest.


Cotton is the main raw material upon which Nigeria's textile industries thrive. It used to be a big revenue earner for farmers. Many of the textile industries have collapsed as a result of unfavourable competition from fabrics smuggled from Asia in addition to a combination of other factors. These include mixed and adulterated cotton seeds, non potent pesticides in circulation, poor farming practices in addition to inadequate extension services. Cotton as an exportable commodity however remains viable as a means of engaging farmers and guaranteeing income for them. Cotton is grown mainly in the sahel savannah belt of Nigeria. A new initiative is in place to grow long staple cotton much sought after by the textile mills. This involves about twenty four states of the Federation. A Presidential Initiative on improved Cotton production is in place. A synergy between Government, Farmers, Textile factories and Cotton bale exporters is expected to increase production, provide a guaranteed market for Cotton and stabilize prices. Investors have a good advantage in utilising outreach schemes to give incentives to Farmers and ultimately buy produce for processing and export.


Cocoa has the potential to become one of the biggest revenue earners for Nigeria. The capacity is highly under-exploited. New generation plantations are not coming up because of the absence of long-term finance to plough into the venture. The availability of fertile land and farmers cooperatives affords a very big opportunity for investors willing to embark on large-scale plantations and the processing of Cocoa into semi finished products for the international market. A similar Farmer outreach scheme can guarantee heavy returns on investments.


Of great significance in Nigeria's agricultural landscape is the relocation of some white farmers from Zimbabwe to Nigeria particularly to Kwara State in the central part of Nigeria. The smooth migration and the use of modern farming methods, the cooperation and assistance received from the host government along with the reception by the host community in the hope of transfer of technology, demonstrates Nigeria's welcome of genuine investors. Along with new incentives like tax holidays, free land, investment protection agreements and infrastructural assistance, investors have a very good chance of breaking even early and making profit.


The water resources of Nigeria are enormous and its all season availability is guaranteed. The dry and rainy seasons provide their unique opportunities. Rivers, streams, rain and irrigation projects all provide sufficient water. This is in addition to a lot of underground water available through boreholes.

Integrated farms are emerging in different parts of Nigeria utilizing irrigation systems for farming. Their balance sheet annually reflects positive performance.


Horticulture is another dimension of Nigeria's great under-exploited potentials. There is an abundant demand in Europe for Nigeria's chilly pepper. This is in addition to rose flowers which can be exported in containers to arrive international markets in fresh condition.

Vegetables are equally in very high demand locally. The success recorded by large-scale farms in the supply of Tomatoes, Okro, Waterleaf, Spinach, Cucumber, Lettuce, Carrots, Garlic e.t.c testifies to the opportunities in this field.


Mangoes, Oranges, Pawpaw, Banana, Pineapple, Avocado pear, Cashew and Coconut fruits   grow in many locations. The potentials are yet to be fully harnessed as they are seasonal crops some of which rot. This is largely as a result of non availability of food processing factories and post harvest preservation facilities.

Recently, the Governments of Cross River, Benue and Edo States have taken diligent steps to harness the abundant potentials. The opportunities here lie in the experienced exporter being able to coordinate with local farmers to meet global standards to take a slice of the international markets.


Tea and Coffee grow very well in Nigeria. On the Mambilla plateau (Taraba state), the tea is one of the highest quality in the world. The temperate climate and the plateau provide good arable land for its cultivation and high yield. Some companies already exist taking advantage of these endowments. There is however abundant room for additional investors.


Most of Nigeria's dairy products are still imported. There are however a number of exceptional companies that have set up in Nigeria one of which is Friesland Foods WAMCO Nigeria Plc operating in Jos (Plateau State) and Lagos. Another is Maizube Farm operating in Minna - Niger State. The Jos plateau, the Obudu cattle ranch and the Mambilla plateau provide the most conducive atmosphere for dairy farming in Nigeria.

In pursuance of early childhood development, some state governments have initiated programmes to  supply dairy products to schools. This is in collaboration with dairy production companies. The scheme is working and is likely to be adopted by many more states for children of school age in the immediate future.

This strategy of improving the protein intake of school children is a very welcome development. Nigeria can practically supply the food needs of the whole of West Africa. New initiatives in setting up dairy business will enhance the supply of the protein needs of the sub-region.


The unhealthy situation of Nigeria's petro-chemical industries has led to the continuous importation of farm inputs in large quantities, especially organic fertilizers which are usually subsidized by government.

It is however very profitable to set up plants for the production of inorganic fertilizers using great advancements in technology.

Besides, the deregulation of the downstream of the oil sector creates new opportunities to set up petro-chemical plants and use some of the by-products for the production of essential farm inputs including fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides. Vaccines required for animal husbandry and poultry production are currently being produced at the National Veterinary Research Institute; Jos. Research work is ongoing to improve the institution's production capacity and the diversity of vaccines that can be produced. This will help to meet the needs of Nigeria and the sub-region considering the trans border nature of animal diseases.

The existing fertilizer blending plants owned by government have been privatized but there are additional windows of opportunities for investors considering the ever increasing population and neighbouring countries that source their fertilizer needs from Nigeria. The Transformation Agenda of the Federal Government envisages the development of petrochemical clusters all over Nigeria taking advantage of Nigeria’s enormous gas deposit.

Fish meals, poultry feed concentrates and some varieties of improved farm inputs are still being imported. The Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA) is a useful partner for details of investment profiles in the field of agriculture.


Three big sugar companies were once very functional in Nigeria. They were all controlled by government before they collapsed. Since 1999, government has found wisdom in disengaging from business through privatization. The Savannah Sugar Company (Numan, Adamawa State) has been privatized and has experienced injection of new capital leading to total transformation from a dormant company into a fully functional enterprise. The benefits of privatization have  become  manifest there.

The country still spends an average of US$200 million annually importing sugar. The pioneering effort of DANGOTE GROUP in merchandising and investment of proceeds in domestic capacity development, is an example of government's open display of its desire that private sector ingenuity should drive the economy.

Other avenues exist for utilization of the improved investment climate and facilitation of access to the Sugar Development Fund which accrues from the sugar import development levy to set up new factories that will meet domestic needs.


Annually, fish imported into Nigeria stands at 1.5million metric tonnes. With a continental shelf covering 250,000sq. km and a mangrove vegetation of 973,000 hectares being the fourth largest in the world, this continuous importation of fish will happily cease  if the local potentials can be harnessed.

Added to this is the 120,000sq. km of inland fresh water in major rivers, lakes and reservoirs. Fish accounts for about 40% of protein intake in Nigeria. The environment favours catches of a variety of species from fresh, marine and brackish waters.

Fishing by artisans completely dominates this sector. The fish variety includes Croaker, Bonga and Sardines all of which have a very high market value.

Trawl fishing will be highly beneficial to investors given Nigeria's exclusive economic zone covering the Bight of Benin and stretching far into the Gulf of Guinea, known very much for its rich fisheries resources.

Shrimps, Crabs and Prawns are also known to be in abundance in the Gulf of Guinea. Many trawl fishing companies already operate in Nigeria but there is room for new investors to come in. These marine resources also attract very high international prices.

Kilning of fish for supply to both domestic and international markets are great opportunities available for exploitation.

Recent legislation in the Cabotage sector makes it imperative that prospective international investors in trawl fishing seek suitable Nigerian partners in joint ventures.


The cabotage regime does not affect investment in aqua culture which represents the widest door open for improvement in the availability of fish for domestic supply and export. An annual yield potential of about 1.3million metric tonnes is possible. The vista here is the early harvest and fast reproductive nature of the species that survive in cultured environment.


Forests occupy about 14 million hectares or 16% of Nigeria's total land area. The savannah region which covers the bigger part of Nigeria's land mass harbours many of the forests but the  economically viable species are found in the rainforests and mangrove swamps in southern Nigeria.

The forests have variety of flora and fauna some of which are endemic to Nigeria. Until recently, conservation was taken for granted. The forests and the fauna species were being decimated while uncontrolled export of wood took place. Some of the exotic tropical species that can still be found include the Mahogany and Ebony.


The greatest impediment to the growth of agriculture in Nigeria is the unavailability of long term revolving credit at reasonable cost for investment. Most banks give credit today at about 25% interest per annum. The Nigerian Agricultural Cooperative and Rural Development Bank (which was recently restructured and named Bank of Agriculture) lends at much less but loanable funds at its disposal is too meagre compared to the demands. Foreign capital at relatively low interest rate can therefore make all the difference for highly successful investment in big time integrated farming in Nigeria especially in an era of global capital migration.


With the gradual implementation of the Transformation Agenda, Agricultural production contributed a total of 40.9% to G.D.P in the year 2010. Agriculture remains the single largest employer of labour and the greatest sector that can contribute to poverty reduction.


The numerous agricultural research institutes available in Nigeria with several breakthroughs and technology-awaiting patent will be very useful in advising potential international and local investors. They are:-

  • Cocoa Research Institute of Nigeria, Ibadan.
  • National Veterinary Research Institute, Jos.
  • Forestry Research Institute of Nigeria, Ibadan.
  • National Root Crop Research Institute, Umudike.
  • National Institute for Trypanosomiasis Research, Kaduna.
  • National Horticultural Research Institute, Ibadan.
  • Rubber Research Institute, Benin City.
  • National Cereals Research Institute, Badegi.
  • International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, Ibadan.
  • Institute of Agricultural Research, Zaria.
  • National Institute for Fresh Water Fisheries Research, New Bussa.
  • National Institute for Oceanography and Marine Research, Lagos.
  • Nigeria Stored Product Research Institute, Ilorin.
  • Lake Chad Research Institute, Maiduguri.
  • Federal Institute of Industrial Research, Oshodi- Lagos.
  • National Institute for Oil Palm Research, Benin.
  • National Animal Production Research Institute, Zaria.
  • National Agricultural Extension Research Liaison Service, Kaduna.
  • Institute for Agricultural Research & Training, Ibadan.


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