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.

Sustainable Agriculture – Definition, Practices, and Economics – The Importance Of Wild Ecosystems

Sustainable agriculture can be a broad and sometimes vague term without a universally agreed-upon definition. I like to define sustainability in the broadest sense possible, in that sustainability is the ability to carry out practices indefinitely, without having to eventually halt them because of negative impacts on environment, community, or the processes themselves. Sustainable agriculture thus involves more than just environmentally sound farming practices, but also necessarily encompasses both economic considerations (questions of resource utilization) and human considerations as well.

Why is sustainability important in agriculture?

Unfortunately, the current agricultural production systems in place not only in the U.S. but in many parts of the world are highly unsustainable. Some of the problems with agriculture include the destruction of wild ecosystems, such as the clearing of rainforest and other biomes to make room for farming, nutrient pollution and chemical pollution from agricultural runoff, waterway disruption and aquifer depletion from the use of water for irrigation, and climate destabilization resulting from a combination of factors.

What are best practices, with respect to sustainability, in farming and agriculture?

People often focus on certain simple issues, like organic farming, or the use of specific harmful chemicals, without looking at the broader picture. Even if everyone in the world were to completely stop using all harmful chemicals in agriculture, and only farm organically, there could still be catastrophic environmental implications of farming.

The key issue in sustainability, most important than all other issues, is leaving intact ecosystems, and not clearing or developing more than a certain portion of wild areas for agriculture or human use. The rule of thumb or target that I like to shoot for is to leave 70% of land as intact wild ecosystem. This does not mean that the land is not being used in any way, but only that it is not being directly used for agriculture or other uses (i.e. crops are not being grown there, timber is not being harvested, people are not living there), and that whatever uses of the land only have negligible impacts on the ecosystem.

Economic value of wild areas:

One argument for continued development is that the development is necessary for economic growth, and growth is necessary for economic health. I find this argument to be fallacious, for two compelling reasons. One is that the paradigm of indefinite economic growth without bound is a flawed one. Resources are always limited, and there is only a certain capacity of goods that can be produced sustainably. Achieving sustainability requires abandoning this old model of economic growth.

My second reason, however, is that intact wild ecosystems are actually necessary for sustained economic health, especially in the agricultural sector, but also in virtually all other aspects of society as well.

Direct economic benefits of wild areas:

In terms of direct effects, intact wild ecosystems provide a buffer which prevents the spread of insects, diseases, and other pests which can destroy crops. Our current unsustainable agriculture system relies on expensive chemical control systems to control pests, which are continually adapting. A sustainable system would rely on natural buffer zones, which not only prevent the spread of disease, but also house predators which feed on insect pests, thus making it unlikely for pests to get established among crops in the first place. The organic farms and gardens that I have worked with which practice crop diversification and the use of wild buffer areas around the operation remark that they typically have almost no problem with pests.

Indirect economic benefits of wild areas:

Indirect effects, however, are even stronger. Wild ecosystems stabilize climate and weather, which can greatly reduce or even prevent natural disasters like flood, drought, and moderate temperature and humidity, lessening the severity of extreme weather events like cold or hot spells. Wild ecosystems can also produce numerous resources, including foods, which can be sustainably harvested, including wild fish and meat, and plants for food or medicinal use. Wild areas also provide beauty, increasing land value in nearby residential areas, and providing recreation and income to local economies through tourism. Often, an intact wild area can have numerous different uses. And lastly, ecosystems also filter and purify water and air, thus lowering health care costs and lessening the need for burdensome environmental regulations.

In summary:

Sustainable agriculture is more than just organic agriculture; it encompasses environmental, economic, and human factors together. The single most important issue in organic agriculture is the preservation of intact, wild ecosystems. I set the goal of preserving 70% of all land as wild ecosystems. These lands can provide immense economic value, both for agriculture and society at large, and both through direct and indirect effects.

World Agriculture Must Become More Sustainable

Sustainable agriculture is an issue that many environmental scientists started pondering in recent years. The reason it is so vital is because food is something that people need for physical survival on this planet and agriculture directly deals with how to produce it. Nevertheless, there is a misconception that sustainable agriculture deals only with how to feed the expanding population today and how to produce enough food to meet the dietary demands at present. The difference here lies in the core objective of this branch of environmental science. It is a much broader concept which is concerned with meeting the demand for food in the future. It is a fact that some geographic regions that used to have fertile soil have become deserts due to inefficient agricultural practices that are common in the world today. Therefore, the fact of food overproduction at present will not seem so exciting if the future generations starve to death not having enough supplies to feed the ever-growing population. Therefore, sustainable agriculture is concerned with developing an efficient environment-friendly food production system that would eliminate a waste of limited natural resources and prevent land from losing fertility while producing adequate yields year after year. It is still important to produce enough food today but it is imperative that substantial agriculture factor in deterioration in fertility and depletion of natural resources, particularly soil and water. So far we have 3 areas that substantial agriculture is concerned with: meeting the demand for food today, ensuring that the future generations will be able to produce enough food given the ever-present deterioration of soil and water, and taking control of soil and water condition.

It is imperative to make agriculture more sustainable if we want to preserve this planet and eliminate the possibility of the global famine in the future. Creating a sustainable agriculture system is actually much more difficult than developing the concept of it in theory. It presents a real dilemma simply because numerous intertwining macro and microeconomic factors influence the level of quality and form of a product produced by the system. Therefore we have to factor in the complex economic and political environment while theorizing about sustainable agriculture systems. As a result, farmers are forced to produce products that people are willing to buy and that are safe to eat, compete with other producers, and act within political and legal boundaries. By the same token, sustainable agriculture creates a framework that farmers must act within, in other words a set of rules to comply with. This simply emphasizes that agriculture is a difficult business to stay in and to make it more sustainable is to complicate it even further. Nevertheless the level of difficulty involved must not deter us from this task because the potential results will definitely outweigh the problems that farmers might be facing today. Every year the total area of agricultural land gradually decreases because land is being eaten up by rapid development. At this point in time the US can produce more food than it needs and this can probably go on for several decades but if no radical measures are taken the aggregate supply of food in the global economy will dwindle. One of the potential solutions to this problem would be government support in the form of lower taxes for farmers. This would help people stay in business longer and concentrate more on environmental problems. In order to make the agriculture more sustainable farmers should utilize natural resources more efficiently. Some advanced cropping techniques must be employed to maintain soil fertility at a certain acceptable level and prevent it from deterioration. They also need to control the amount of fertilizers used in the process thus producing safe to eat and healthy products. Currently, the situation is far from perfect but it is headed in the right direction with the government starting to acknowledge the importance of this issue and providing support to farmers.