As Nigeria faces serious poverty challenges, Hon. Obidike Chukwuebuka, Leader of the All Progressives Congress, APC, said two out of three Nigerians live below the $1 a day income poverty line .
He said poverty in Nigeria is concentrated in rural areas, which are home to over 70% of the country’s population.
In a recent statement, the head of the APC said that development indicators in rural areas lag behind those in urban areas: incomes are lower, infant mortality rates are higher, life expectancy is shorter, illiteracy is more widespread, malnutrition is more widespread and larger proportions of people do not have access to safe drinking water and improved sanitation services.
Obidike spoke at an economic summit in Lagos on Friday, explaining that “for the foreseeable future, the well-being of rural people in Nigeria will be tied to agriculture. Agriculture is the backbone of the rural economy, generating around 35 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) and providing by far the largest source of rural employment. The growth of the Nigerian agricultural sector, although better than the growth achieved in many other African countries, has not met expectations. Per capita value added in agriculture has grown by less than 1 percent per year over the past 20 years, and gains in food production have not kept pace with population growth, resulting in an increase food imports and a decline in national food self-sufficiency levels.
“Blessed with abundant land and water resources, the Nigerian agricultural sector has great potential for growth, but this potential is unrealized. Productivity is low and basically stagnant. Agricultural systems, which are mostly small-scale, are still essentially subsistence and mostly dependent on the vagaries of the weather. The country’s vast irrigation potential remains largely untapped. Most farmers mainly produce food crops using traditional methods of extensive cultivation, while commercial agriculture based on modern technologies and purchased inputs remains underdeveloped. The capacity of the agricultural research system has eroded in recent years, as has that of the extension service, so that even when improved technologies are available, they often do not reach farmers. Farmers’ lack of technical knowledge is compounded by deficiencies in input distribution systems, which limit the timely availability of improved seeds, fertilizers, crop protection products and machinery.
“Where inputs are available, farmers’ ability to use them is often compromised by a lack of credit, as rural financial institutions are generally weak. Farmers who produce surpluses often do not have access to reliable markets, and the high cost of transporting produce to distant buying points via poor rural roads reduces their competitiveness. Getting agriculture started in Nigeria will require a coordinated strategy that includes policy reforms, institutional restructuring, and well-targeted strategic investments to upgrade degraded rural infrastructure, boost productivity, and drive increased competitiveness (World Bank 2005).
“Recognizing these challenges, the Federal Government of Nigeria has identified the modernization of the agricultural sector as a major priority. Former President Obasanjo, one of the founding members of the New Economic Partnership for Africa (NEPAD), has repeatedly expressed his commitment to achieving NEPAD’s goal of investing at least 10% of the national budget in agriculture and related activities. The National Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy (NEEDS) also explicitly recognizes the strategic importance of the agricultural sector and lists a number of special initiatives that the federal government intends to pursue to promote increased production. food and agriculture. Current President Yar’Adua has also identified food security and agriculture as one of his seven points. The current government intends to diversify the country’s resource base and also to increase the level of export of primary products with emphasis on adding value to primary products.
“While there is interest in modernizing agriculture, knowledge about the growth potential of the agricultural sector in Nigeria is insufficient. Some still question whether it is appropriate to focus on agriculture and the source of growth in Nigeria In this article, we have applied the most recent version of the GTAP framework to estimate the growth potential of agriculture in Nigeria . Recently, Nigeria’s 1999 Input-Output statistics have been included in the GTAP database.
“Investment in agriculture can be as profitable as investment in any other sector of the Nigerian economy. We show that (after adjusting for size) some agricultural subsectors (e.g., livestock, fruits and vegetables) outperform some of the oil and manufacturing sectors in terms of return on investment. Therefore, discrimination against agriculture should disappear and major investments should be channeled into agriculture, as it has a very high potential to employ people, provide food security and earn (keep) foreign exchange. foreign. Obidike concluded