Diversification in Agriculture Sector: A Catalyst For Sustainable Economic Development in Nigeria

Agriculture involves the cultivation of land, raising and rearing of animals, for the purpose of production of food for man, feed for animals and raw materials for industries. It involves forestry, fishing, processing and marketing of these agricultural products. Essentially, it is composed of crop production, livestock, forestry, and fishing.

Agriculture is the mainstay of many economies. All over the world, the development of an enduring economy goes hand in hand with agricultural development thus, there is a need for Nigeria to exploit her various agricultural resources to full potential in order to accelerate her quest and efforts to achieving sustainable economic development.

Agriculture is considered a catalyst for the overall development of any nation; development economists have always assigned the agriculture sector a central place in the development process, early development theorists though emphasized industrialization, they counted on agriculture to provide the necessary output of food and raw materials, along with the labour force that would gradually be absorbed by industry and services sector. Much later thinking moved agriculture to the forefront of the development process; the hopes for technical change in agriculture and “green revolution” suggested agriculture as the dynamo and magic wand for economic growth and development.

The industrial revolution of the Nineteenth century which catapulted the agrarian economies of most countries of Europe got their stimuli from agriculture; the sector in recent history has also worked a tremendous miracle in countries like Mexico, India, Brazil, Peru, Philippines and China where the Green Revolution was one of the great success stories. Indeed, the importance of agriculture in any nation’s economy cannot be over emphasized, for instance, in United States of America, agriculture contributes about 1. 1% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product.

The above statistic indicated that the more developed a country is the lower the contribution of agriculture to Gross Domestic Product. Economy diversification is an economic development strategy characterized by increasing the numbers of the revenue base of an economy. The Nigerian economy is a mono-cultural economy depending on crude oil as the main source of her revenue, it is crucial that government should not keep on believing that oil provides an endless source of revenue.

As a matter of priority, Nigeria government must encourage the rapid diversification of Nigeria’s economy as this is the only sustainable way to survive the current environment of global economic uncertainty of international oil price volatility and shocks, unfavourable quota system and depletion.

Diversification in the agriculture sector is therefore suggested for Nigeria as a developing economy to ensure food and nutritional security, income and employment generation, poverty alleviation and to encourage industrialization, ease pressure on balance of payment, reliable source of government revenue and overall economic development of the country.

Prior to the political crisis of 1967-1970, agriculture’s positive contributions to the economy were instrumental in sustaining economic growth and stability. The bulk of food demand was satisfied from domestic output, thereby obviating the need to utilize scarce foreign exchange resources on food importation.

Stable growth in agricultural exports constituted the backbone of a favorable balance of trade. Sustainable amounts of capital were derived from the agricultural sector through the imposition of several taxes and accumulation of marketing surpluses, which were used to finance many development projects such as the building and construction of Ahmadu Bello University (Zaria) and first Nigerian skyscraper-cocoa house in Ibadan. The sector, which employed 71% of the total labor force in 1960, employed only 56% in 1977, the number stood at 68% in 1980, falling to 55% in 1986, 1987 and 1988; and 57% annually from 1989 to 1992, and has continued to nosedive into 2000s as the result of the neglect of the sector.

To channel itself on the path to modern development, Nigeria should examine what factors hindered the development of its agricultural sector, which was the backbone of the Nigerian economy before the era of oil boom. It should rectify the mistakes it made in over 54 years by immediately putting these strategic plans into action. The people of Nigeria can uplift themselves from poverty and distress by eradicating corruption and devoting themselves to strive for progress.

The 2020:20 initiative will keep Nigeria focused on improving their economy and combined with a significant effort to reducing food imports and to increase food production within their own country, Nigeria can witness a timely turn around in their investment. Nigeria has the necessary components in place to return to an agricultural-based economy. Research has demonstrated that a return to an agricultural economy is not only possible, but will greatly benefit the entire country of Nigeria.

To achieve sustainable economic development and to lift the dormant and continuously dwindling contribution of the agriculture sector, Nigeria needs to have some recommended pre-requisites diversification policies such as provision of financial resources to sector to get it up and functioning; a combination of government provision of subsidies, improved and high yielding seedlings and breeds for private companies and small scale farmer producing as large as 85% of the sector’s agricultural output are needed to boost the agricultural market.

There also need to revise the current import and export regulations to make it more convincing for other countries to accept agricultural products from Nigeria. It is an established fact that with the population of over 170 million, vast cultivatable farmland, a conducive climate and soil, Nigeria has the necessary productive resources required to have a strong welcome back of the agriculture sector as an engine to achieving sustainable economic development.

It is therefore plausible for Nigeria to diversify into the agriculture market in their effort to become more self-sustainable and be recognized as one of the world economic power.

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The Need for Sustainable Agriculture

The green revolution was a period of extreme innovation that occurred in agriculture predominantly in the 1960’s and 1970’s, although commenced in the 1940’s. During this period huge amounts of research and development were undertaken that increased agricultural productivity significantly, the benefits of which we continue to enjoy today. Initiatives included the development of higher yielding crop varieties, the introduction of synthetic fertilisers and pesticides as well as improving and modernising farm management.It was these innovations that enabled more food security in the developed world than previously possible. Huge yields were achieved from relatively small areas of land, making food easy to come by in the developed world for most people. As modern farming practices developed, the need for sustainable agriculture was broadened from economic and food sustainability to environmental and social sustainability. While the level of investment in agricultural research and development has been substantially reduced since the green revolution, the knowledge within the sector has greatly increased and agricultural businesses have adjusted their practices to deliver agriculture sustainability.Sustainable agriculture programToday all agricultural industries including grains, horticulture, fisheries, sugar and meat are concerned with sustainable agriculture. Agriculture land is not as plentiful as it was during the green revolution and to ensure the sustainability of the industries and importantly the global food supply, sustainable agriculture practices have to be at the forefront of everything the food industry does. In Australia research and development corporations, that represent farmers, invest in research and development to improve the sustainable agricultural practices. Often this is jointly funded with the federal government.There are also plenty of agriculture schools, primary and secondary as well as sustainable agriculture courses that equip people for careers agriculture. Agricultural jobs are a lot more varied than often thought, with fields in science, engineering, exporting, international relations and e-commerce.Sustainable agriculture is not just a buzz phrase in countries like Australia, but rather is essential business. With limited arable land, limited water and increasing climatic variability and extreme weather events improving sustainable agricultural practices is fundamental to the future success of the industry and to the worlds food supply.Without an increase in investment in research and development the advances of the green revolution might not be enough to ensure that people continue to enjoy food security.Sustainable farmA sustainable farm has to be able to produce food without depleting the natural resources required to grow more produce in the future. As practices have evolved and knowledge about sustainable farming practices have expanded farmers have become aware that they are responsible for much more than their crops and animals. Where once farmers grazed animals, today sustainable livestock farmers think about themselves as managing three living ecosystems: their animals; the grass and groundcover that animals need to eat to survive and the soils which ultimately is the most important element to manage. Without good soil health sustainable farming can not exist. If soil health is depleted the grass or crops won’t grow as well. Environmental degradation on the farm and in the surrounding areas is also a reality if soil health is not a focus of sustainable farming. Without good soil health the structure of the soil can be compromised leading to dust storms and also run off of top soil in heavy rains into waterways.Agriculture irrigationSome sectors of agriculture rely heavily on irrigation, such as rice and cotton. Other industries like soy, horticulture, grains and cattle grazing also use some irrigation. Modern irrigation spread widely with the green revolution as a way to produce food in areas that didn’t have natural or adequate rain flow to support crops, although irrigation can be traced back to early Egyptian times.Irrigation is somewhat of a polarising subject, particularly in areas of water scarcity. There are concerns that water is being diverted from its natural course, which has environmental impacts downstream. However others argue that without irrigation in some parts of the world that sustainable agriculture would not be possible. The debate is slowly moving towards finding a point where both objectives can be met to deliver sustainable agriculture and sustainable river and water systems downstream from where the agriculture irrigation is occurring.

Agriculture Industry Amidst Stiff Competition for Self-Promotion

Agriculture industry contributes hugely to the Indian economy. The practice of agriculture is highly devotional to promoting subsistence farming methods and adequate implementation. Throwing light on the present status of the agricultural sector reveals its undoubtedly incredible performance in Indian arena of economic growth. With tremendous dependency on the agricultural sector, industry efforts are directed towards promoting their business pertaining to stiff market competition.Need For Agriculture Business PromotionModern agriculture stretches beyond mere traditional production of human food products and feed for animals. Fertilizers, leather, fibers, timber, nursery plants, etc all constitute a major part of the agriculture sector today. Stiff competition in the Indian agriculture market is primarily based on production of refined quality product in the long run. Industries are continuously flowing into the Indian market thus toughening competition at every single moment. The bigger picture entails upon the need for online business listing which helps promote the stance of best agriculture industry. The bottom line is agriculture business demands high promotion in order to resist market force and beat competition at the edge.Service Visibility Is A Must-FactorOnline presence isn’t just the sole supporting factor in sustaining success in Indian market. Making your presence felt is a do-factor. Often agricultural companies dealing into production and distribution of manual and animal herbs prefer assured visibility of their services. Listing site details on a promotional website is one must. However, it is necessary that the organizations choose substantial hosting sites for their business promotion so that there are lesser chances of litigations and unethical practices. Agricultural products add widely to the daily consumption list of Indian majority population. If you are an agricultural business holder, then reaching out to common people is perhaps a do on the list. A careful enlisting of business on a reputed website leads to your service visibility to a wider crowd.Productive Use Of Your ResourcesAgricultural sector constitutes 80% of the Indian economy. Hereby, productive use of resources from agricultural base can widely add to the growth of economy. If the resources from agricultural sector are used productively, then the overall effect will be accelerating. The agriculture market lends feed to labor in the modern sector.Promoting business through an organization which encourages unethical and unfair practices can be hazardous. Agriculture businesses which constitute a major part of the Indian economy must enroll into promoting their services. However, a website which showcases services of diverse companies categorized into different groups offers authentic promotion. It is one such managerial base where the agriculture companies must highlight the strength of their services to ensure better visibility among the users. Remember, agricultural products are major to the survival of ‘common people.’ Having said that, companies face stiff competition in enhancing their base popularity and reaching out to the public. So, such industries must add to the eatery lists of the people by promoting their business online. Provide quality service to the target audience and assure you will feed pretty good number of people on your bridging products.