Agriculture, A Factor That Can Mitigate Unemployment in Nigeria By Iromini Akinkumi Ismail
“When tillage begins, other arts follow. Therefore farmers are the founders of human civilization.” This quote is from Daniel Webster (1782 to 1852).
The Nigerian National Bureau of Statistics has pegged Nigeria’s general unemployment rate at 12.1% as at the first quarter of 2016, with youth unemployment rate of 48%. In the same light, about 4.5 million Nigerians match into the labour market annually from tertiary institutions with very limited places to work in.
Nigeria has one of the largest set of frustrated young people, whose dreams are dying, and still have to depend on their parents for livelihood upon graduation from universities.
Unemployment has actually contributed to a good number of societal malaise including armed-robbery, internet-scams, all manner of scams, kidnapping etc.
This unemployment crisis has worsened based on Nigeria’s current economic crisis, capital controls, FOREX restrictions, import bans and the shortage of FOREX earnings.
If Nigeria could not tackle unemployment effectively when oil prices were high, should it be now, that oil prices have been divided into two or even lesser?
Currently, more Nigerians are losing jobs; more are finding it difficult to start businesses, and businesses are folding up.
Nigeria’s current economic situation is attributed to several factors such as primary export dependence, low oil prices etc.
First of all, in a changed and globalised world with sharp global competition amongst nations. Nations diversifying their economies, globalised standards of productions, nations going extensively into manufacturing. It’s reprehensible that Nigeria with a population of 180 million still depends on a socialist constitution of oil wealth distribution to survive.
This is absolutely not possible. Nigeria cannot depend on oil revenues again to pay salaries; provide public goods; sustain institutions; provide infrastructure, and provide stable electricity.
Though the best and sustainable solution to Nigeria’s unemployment crisis is industrialisation. This entails the provision of an enabling climate for manufacturing to thrive.
The shortcut to reduce unemployment rate is through the development of the agricultural sector.
Nigeria’s agrarian paradox is quite disheartening. For a country with such population muscle, the massive landmass of wasting arable lands and the good climate for agriculture to have food crisis is quite reprehensible.
Nigeria’s agricultural potentials put Nigeria in a position to feed the world, but this is not tapped.
There have been reforms by successive Nigerian governments for increased agricultural productivity but most of them could not achieve much.
Since the early 1970s to date, there has been a steep drop in agricultural production correlating roughly with the rise in federal revenues from petroleum extraction.
Whereas previously Nigeria had been the world’s lead exporter of cocoa. Production of this cash crop dropped by 43% between 1972 and 1983. While productivity in other important income generators like rubber (29%), groundnuts (64%), cotton (65%), and palm oil (50%) all dropped by those percentages.
Now, let us take a look at the many vast agricultural resources found in different states in Nigeria but I will mention the view.
The main oil palm producing states are Cross River, Akwa Ibom, Ekiti, Delta, Bayelsa, Ogun, Rivers, Anambra, Ondo, Enugu, Imo, Oyo, Abia, Edo, and Ogun.
Niger, Kano, Jigawa, Zamfara, Kebbi, Sokoto, Katsina, Kaduna, Adamawa, Yobe, Borno, Taraba, Plateau, Nasarawa, Bauchi, and the Gombe States are the major producers of the commodity.
The major producers of cotton are Kaduna, Ondo, Kano, Katsina, Oyo, Kwara, Ogun, Zamfara, Jigawa, Sokoto, and Kebbi.
The main areas of rice cultivation in the country include the states of Kebbi, Kano, Ebonyi, Anambra, Niger and Taraba, Kebbi is the main rice producing State in Nigeria.
Enugu, Oyo, Anambra, Kogi, Osun, Abia, Ondo, Benue, Cross River, Imo, Ekiti, Ebonyi, Kwara and Nassarawa.
Edo, Delta, Ondo, Ogun, Abia, Anambra, Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Rivers, Ebonyi and Bayelsa States.
Ondo, Cross River, Ogun, Edo, Delta Ekiti, Osun and Oyo States of Nigeria which are the largest producers.
Nigeria’s northern states of Borno, Yobe, Jigawa, Kano, Zamfara, Katsina, Adamawa, Sokoto and Kebbi, are major wheat growing areas.
The highest producing states in the country are Ondo, Osun, Cross River, Ekiti, Oyo, and Edo.
Plantain is produced in the following states in Nigeria Lagos, Ondo, Ogun, Oyo, Oshun, Ekiti, Edo, Delta, Cross River, Akwa Ibom, Imo, Bayelsa, Abia and Ebonyi.
These margins of the country’s exportation of this agricultural produce should have been doubled in the 2000s if successive Nigerian governments did not relegate agriculture.
This is the time for Nigeria to massively re-visit agriculture through partnerships between farmers, governments, the private sector, international organisations, foundations, and research institutions that will be aimed at improving productivity.
This is the time that the Nigerian government should incentivize agriculture and provide an enabling environment for agricultural activities in form of infrastructures, loans, supports etc.
Lastly, Nigerian Citizens should change our old mentality towards farming. They need to fully involve in either peasant or commercial farming, “Tébi batí kúrò nínu ìsé, ìsé bùsé“.