Contributed by Oluwatosin Ogunsola, YALI Network member from Nigeria
Agriculture remains the dominant sector in the rural areas of Nigeria, providing employment for about 60 percent of the country’s workforce. The diversity of climatic conditions, the richness of soil types and water sources, and a high population density provide great potential for crop and livestock production, fishery and silviculture. In the 1960s and up to the early 1970s, Nigeria’s agriculture flourished, as the country was one of the world’s biggest producers of palm oil, cocoa and groundnut. However, agriculture has declined in its contribution to the economy overtime.
Despite this decline, several policies, such as the Nigeria Vision 20:2020 of 2009, the Agricultural Transformation Agenda of 2011–2015, and the Agricultural Promotion Policy (the Green Alternative) under the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan of the current government, have made a giant leap toward an active, sustainable revitalization of the agricultural sector, to ultimately stem the country’s looming food insecurity, unemployment and economic issues. The government of Nigeria intends to achieve these goals by encouraging private-sector participation, absorbing labor through the intensification of agro-processing operations, and taking advantage of foreign earnings from agricultural exports.
Smallholder farmers benefit from the transformation of food systems when they are able to join vertically coordinated value chains through fair contracts with processors and traders. In recent decades, a variety of business models, national and international value-chain organizations, and institutional arrangements and policies have emerged to provide incentives and support services to smallholders, with the aim of increasing sustainable food production and facilitating market access. These innovations include institutional and market intermediaries, such as participatory guarantee systems, marketing cooperatives, training centers, private traders and local public-procurement mechanisms, which take on a wide range of roles in linking farmers to markets. These arrangements tend to be more effective in linking smallholder farmers and small-scale processors to markets, available local infrastructure and strong producer organizations.
In order to curb post-harvest losses and protect the gains of increased production, silo storage capacity across the country was increased from 600,000 metric tons to 1 million metric tons with the completion of four additional silo complexes.
The views and opinions expressed here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the YALI Network or the U.S. government. YALI Voices is a series of podcasts, videos and blog posts contributed by members of the YALI Network.