THE ROLE OF AGRICULTURE IN THE ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT OF A NATION

(THE RIVERS STATE PERSPECTIVE)

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ABSTRACT

The study evaluated the role of agriculture in the economic development of a nation. The specific objectives of the study are to know the extent to which Rivers State is currently equipped to increase production in the agricultural sector, to examine the extent to which agriculture can add as a component of the country’s economic market, to determine now Nigeria can successfully diversity into agriculture, to find out the challenges facing the agricultural sector in Rivers State. The population of the study was made of the entire staffs of state ministry of agriculture in Port Harcourt. Therefore the population of the study is unknown. The sample size of this study is judgmental sample of 100 respondents which comprise of both the senior and junior staffs of the state and federal ministry of agriculture in Port Harcourt. Data used in this study were obtained from two source namely, primary and secondary sources. Findings revealed that Agricultural sector has significant impact on economic development of Rivers State, and there is significant relationship between diversification into agriculture and economic development of Rivers State. Based on the findings of the study summary, conclusion and recommendations were made that in order to facilitate agricultural development, government should adopt an integrated approach which is a multidimensional strategy for improving the quality of the life of the people by supporting farmers so they can acquire machines and other farm equipments, Rivers State should be deeply involved in agriculture since it has positive impact on the economy, there is the need for training and retraining of the people to enhance the dissemination of new skills and ideas on the establishment, management and skills of small scale industries.

 

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY

Even though Nigeria has a high poverty rate, it still has a higher GDP in comparison to other countries of Africa. Till now Nigeria has been trailing behind Western economies. Today, almost fifty years after gaining independence, Nigeria should compete with economies of the world rather than just African economies. The country is rich in natural resources and has identified the fact that taking appropriate measures can speed its economic development.

With this foresight, it crafted the vision 20-20-20 program. This program aims to make Nigeria one of the twenty largest world economies by the year 2020. The seven points in the 20-20-20 program are: power and energy, food security and agriculture, wealth creation and employment, mass transportation, land reforms security and functional education.

The country seeks to become a leading economy in Africa and a major player in the world’s economic and political affairs and their 20-20-20 plan is their guideline. To become a developed nation, Nigeria needs to speed up its economic growth by focussing on vital economic sectors like education, energy, agriculture and manufacturing. At this point in Nigeria’s development, the best approach is to focus on the agricultural sector.   By focusing on agricultural development, Nigeria can speed up its economic growth in the coming decade.

Currently, Nigeria has 75 percent of its land suitable for agriculture, but only 40% is cultivated. That indicates there is much room for the county to focus on. This addresses the food security and agriculture component of their plan along with the focus on employment for all. However, to move forward,   the   country  must   increase   the   low   productivity  of   current agricultural companies, engage competition within the agricultural sector, develop domestic policies and increase funding (Ayodele, Obafemi and Ebong, 2013).

In terms of the 20-20-20 plan for agriculture, growth promotion is the first goal. There are also goals in the areas of livelihoods improvement, sustainable development and policy and institutional reforms. This involves conducting agricultural surveys, and establishing smallholder fattening schemes for livestock. It also includes the rehabilitation of irrigation infrastructures and expansion of those structures as well. There is also a call for  a  1,000  capacity  community  farm  center;  there  is  also  a  plan  for increasing the effectiveness of fish hatcheries by establishing parent stock programs and there will also be vaccination programs for livestock. There will be a revision of the guaranteed minimum price system for crops and livestock; as well there will also be government training for the first 10,000 new agricultural workers (Ayoola, 2009).

One component in determining how to use agriculture to improve economics in Nigeria is to evaluate the historical efforts in terms of agriculture that Nigeria has engaged in since its independence.   This will ensure that the country does not repeat past mistakes. In addition, this evidence will demonstrate whether or not it is feasible for agriculture to be a primary factor in Nigerian economic development.

Along with historical factors, there must be an evaluation of both internal  and  external  factors  that  could  impact  the  Nigerian  agriculture market.    In  addition,  it  is  important  to  identify the strategies  needed  to enhance economic growth through the use of agriculture.

Under  right  condition,   increase  in agriculture   productivity   causes  the incomes   of  both  small  and  large  farmers  to  increase  and  generate  employment   opportunities. These  increases   in  income   is particularly   important   because  the  proportion   of  people  mainly dependent   on  agriculture   for their  income  remains  high;  ranging  from  45%  in East  and  South Asia,  to 53.2%  in Asia  and 63.5%  in Sub-Saharan  Africa  (Ogen,  2007).   The agricultural   sector has a traditional   role  to  play  in  the  path  of  economic   development.   But  in  an  economy   like Nigeria,   the  agricultural   sector  had  suffered   set  back  in recent  times,  which  has  attributed  to widespread   poverty   and  insecurity   experienced   today.  Though,   no  so-called   developed   nation today  actualized  this  status  solely  by agricultural   transformation,   but in many,  conscious  efforts on agriculture  at the early stage of development  played  a critical  role in economic  development.

1.2 STATEMENT OF PROBLEMS

Agriculture is faced with fundamental changes. Human population growth, improved incomes and shifting dietary patterns are increasing the demand for food and other agricultural products. At the same time, however, the natural resource base underpinning agricultural production is under threat, with growing threats to genetic diversity and the degradation of land and water resources. Agriculture improves food security in many ways, most fundamentally by increasing the amount of food but also by providing the means to purchase food. Through growth in agricultural productivity and higher farm profits, the rural poor can generate additional income to purchase more food, including more diverse kinds of food.

Despite the strategies adopted by various governments in Nigeria to address agriculture and rural underdevelopment problem, the story remains the same. There are still inequality and poverty particularly in the rural areas. There are a lot of public complaints on the underdevelopment situations of many rural areas which constitutes a threat to Nigeria’s vision of becoming one of the twenty strongest economies by the year 2020 (vision 2020). A lot of resources (financial) have been injected, but all in vain (Yakubu, 2009).

1.3 PURPOSE AND OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY

The main objective of this study is to examine the role of agriculture in the economic development of a nation. The specific objectives are as follows:

1.To know the extent to which agriculture can add as a component of the country’s economic market

  1. To examine the extent to which Nigeria is currently equipped to increase production in their agricultural sector?
  2. To determine how Nigeria can successfully diversify into agriculture.
  3. To find out the challenges facing the agricultural sector in Nigeria.
  4. To find lasting solution to the problems of agriculture in Nigeria.

1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS

These questions will be addressed via a detailed review of the literature and careful analysis of historical data and current data.

  1. What is needed in order for Nigeria to add agriculture as a component of the country’s economic market?
  2. How is Nigeria currently equipped to increase production in their agricultural sector?
  3. Is it plausible for Nigeria to successfully diversify into agriculture?
  4. What are the challenges facing the agricultural sector in Nigeria?
  5. Are there solutions to the problems of agriculture in Nigeria.

1.5 HYPOTHESES

HO: Agricultural Sector has no significant impact on Economic Development   of Nigeria.

HI: Agricultural Sector has significant impact on Economic Development   of Nigeria.

1.6 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY

The study is expected to make recommendations to the government and the general public on the roles of agriculture on the economic development of Nigeria.

The study will also help policy makers to ascertain the need for carrying out effective agricultural system in nigeria.

The opinions of this study will also open up future vents for young practitioners /scholars in the academic field in topical area under investigation and finally, this study will also be a useful guide and information to other students that will carry out their studies in the future.

1.7 SCOPE OR DELIMITATION OF THE STUDY

The study limit scope to the agricultural with emphasis on state and federal ministries of agriculture Port Harcourt.

1.8 LIMITATIONS OF THE STUDY

In carrying out an investigation of this native the researcher must of necessity be faced the following constraint.

Time: The time frame provision for this study was too short.

Financial constraints: Usually, a study of this nature involved some level of expenditure therefore; finance was also a limiting factor.

Poor response: The poor response from the respondent and inability to access the entire population also was another constrain to the study.

Organizational policy: The policies of the organizations also were another factor that limited the study.

1.9 DEFINITION OF TERMS

Agriculture: The science or practice of farming, including cultivation of the soil for the growing of crops and the rearing of animals to provide food, wool, and other products.

Economic development: It is the efforts that seek to improve the economic well-being and quality of life for a community by creating and/or retaining jobs and supporting or growing incomes and the tax base.

Economy: The wealth and resources of a country or region, especially in terms of the production and consumption of goods and services.

Development: The process of developing or being developed.

Economic growth: The increase in the amount of goods and services produced per head of the population over a period of time.

 

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