Agriculture In Nigeria: History, Development, Opportunities & Problems [2024]

Agriculture in Nigeria is a very broad field with various pros and cons. However, this article has been well-researched to cover and explain all you need to know about the history, the roles, the untapped opportunities, and all the agricultural-related problems facing Nigeria.

Agriculture is the planting and rearing of animals for food and monetary purposes. It also provides other products essential for all-time enhancement and sustenance.

Agriculture has played a serious role in development during the sedentary human civilization. Plants and animals were farmed for human sustainability.

After the industry, the agricultural sector has employed quite a third of the entire number of workers worldwide. Nevertheless, the agricultural sector has drastically lost quite a number of its workers in developed nations within the last century.

Agriculture has over the years provided food products like; grains or cereals, vegetables, eggs, meat, milk, etc. It has also provided fuel, and raw materials like rubber, fiber, etc.

What are the Top 7 Sorts of Agriculture in Nigeria?

Agriculture isn’t equivalent across the planet but is a well-liked venture. It is categorized and has supported the following: the sort of crop being grown, the scale of cultivation, intensity, mechanization level, sorts of livestock, and the way this farm’s produce is distributed.

Here are some sorts of agriculture in Nigeria:

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1. Shifting Cultivation:

Shifting cultivation is typically administered in the tropics. This has got to do with clearing the forest by burning and slashing.

Farming activities are administered on this cleared piece of land for a minimum of 3 to 5 years until it loses its fertility or native flora and weeds grow thereon.

During this era, the farmers abandon the portion for a fallow period and advance to a different portion of land for cultivation.

  1. Nomadic Herding:

Nomadic herding may be a sort of agriculture that focuses on animal rearing. It entails the keeping and grazing of animals on natural pastures.

This sort of farming is extremely common in arid and semi-arid regions like Saudi Arabia, northern Africa, and the northern parts of Eurasia. This bears a striking resemblance to pastoral farming.

Nomads have the character of moving their animals from one place to another in search of water and green pasture.

The sort of animals herded depends on the region. A number of these animals include sheep, cattle, donkeys, camels, goats, and horses. This is often a kind of farming, mainly for family consumption.

3. Rudimentary Sedentary Tillage:

This type of farming is practised in tropical areas and involves the cultivation of tree crops like rubber trees, grains, etc.

Rudimentary sedentary cultivation, unlike other sorts of farming, may be a sort of farming practised on an equivalent piece consecutively. The land is left to fallow after a while to bring back its soil fertility.

4. Livestock Ranching/Pastoral Farming:

Livestock ranching, a bit like nomadic farming, focuses on rearing animals. But unlike nomadic herding, farmers don’t move from place to place in search of pasture and water but sleep in settlements. Pasture lands are cultivated for grazing animals.

Most areas with large pieces of land with enough grazing areas for animals practice this sort of agriculture for commercial reasons. All the animals kept on ranches are mainly kept for wool and meat. Dairy is a crucial part of pastoral farming.

However, the activity isn’t an honest practice because excessive grazing destroys natural pastures. Still leaving the farmers to shop for feed for the animals, thereby making the practice an upscale one.

5. Commercial Plantations:

This can even be called tree-crop farming, plantation farming, or industrialized farming. This sort of farming is practiced in large farm areas, and although it is practiced in small land areas, it needs high commercial value.

Some commercial plants cultivated on this land include tea, rubber, coffee, coconut, cocoa, grapes, apples, spices, oranges, avocados, mangoes, vegetable oil, etc.

Some of these plantation farms have processing factories. Various farming methods are employed to increase farm yields because their major purpose is to generate profit.

6. Mixed Farming:

Mixed farming has to do with continuous cropping and, therefore, the growing of crops of varying maturity periods on an equivalent piece of land. Farming is mostly wiped out in areas with sufficient rainfall or good irrigation facilities.

Mixed farming is additionally referred to as grain and livestock farming. In farming, both crops and animals are raised. This sort of farming originated in the humid mid-latitudes, exempting Asia, and has been documented to thrive mainly in Europe.

7. Subsistence Farming:

Subsistence farming is especially for immediate consumption. It involves cultivating crops and rearing animals for the sole purpose of feeding the farmer and his family.

In farming, simple farm tools are used on a small piece of land. Subsistence farmers are believed to be poor and can’t afford to shop for advanced seeds and fertilizers.

Many farmers use land that is not very fertile or is in rough terrain because that is what they can afford. This type of farming has low productivity, so farmers don’t need to use advanced facilities like irrigation networks and electricity.

They mainly grow crops for their own consumption rather than for profit.

What is the History Of Agriculture in Nigeria?

Agriculture In Nigeria
Rice Is One of the Great Contributors to Agriculture in Nigeria
Agriculture In Nigeria
Beans Are One of the Great Contributors to Agriculture in Nigeria

The agricultural practice has been alive in Nigeria since far before the pre-colonial era. But subsistence agriculture was widely practiced on the eve of European colonial rule over Nigeria.

During this enterprise, food production was mainly for self-sufficiency and consumption. Several crops cultivated include:

  • Beans
  • Rice
  • Sesame
  • Cashew nuts
  • Cassava
  • Groundnuts
  • Maize
  • Cocoa beans
  • Gum acacia
  • Kola nut
  • Maize
  • Melon
  • Millet
  • Palm kernels
  • Palm oil
  • Plantains
  • Rubber
  • Sorghum
  • Soybeans
  • Bananas
  • Yams

With an outsized landmass, well-distributed rainfall, and heat, agriculture played an excellent developmental role in being the primary source of livelihood for the nation’s populace.

Formerly, Nigeria was known for exporting groundnut and palm nut oil, but recently, the speed of exportation of those products has reduced.

In recent years, some local Nigerian companies have begun exporting groundnuts, cashew nuts, sesame seeds, moringa seeds, Ginger, cocoa, etc.

Before the colonial masters stepped on the Nigerian soil, our forefathers were mainly farmers, and it was solely for substance.

Despite that, they produced enough food for themselves, and cash crops were also produced for her barter system trade across the Sahara and therefore the Atlantic Ocean.


Read also: Is Dow Agro Revolutionizing the Agriculture Industry?


What are the Problems Of Agriculture in Nigeria And their Solutions?

In 2018, according to the desk of the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, about 30% to 40% of farm products (food) produced in Nigeria were ultimately wasted.

This will only imply that the issues of agriculture stem beyond the farming process, as issues like waste can still hamper the success of agriculture.

There are many opportunities in agriculture in Nigeria, and these opportunities can’t be explored if these problems aren’t tackled. Here are a number of the issues faced in agriculture and their proposed solutions:

  1. Lack of Modernization/Mechanization:

Farmers in Nigeria during this day and age still believe in crude tools and also suffer from poor storage facilities, which adversely affect productivity.

An honest example is that of poor irrigation, which makes it difficult during dry seasons.

Therefore, the unavailability of mechanical tools like tractors to substitute for or compensate for manual labour hinders productivity due to fatigue.

  • Solution:

Being that the majority of farmers in Nigeria are rural farmers, the government has a vital role to play in creating favourable policies, conducting agricultural research, giving grants to rural farmers, subsidizing farm equipment, and supplying good storage facilities.

They could also provide modern farming machines and a good cooling system to preserve perishable products.

  1. Lack of Information:

The information they assert is power. But when farmers lack information, it constitutes a serious problem. For starters, there’s an entire lot more to farming than simply digging and planting crops.

Farmers should be provided with the required information they have, like knowing how to select the proper seed variety to urge maximum yield, the simplest time to plant, the best farming method, and most significantly, the way to market their produce for maximum profit.

  • Solution:

Farmers should be open-minded and willing to find out new techniques to enhance their crop yield. They ought to also constantly seek knowledge and be willing to share it with their farming communities.

Training, seminars, and workshops should be held for farmers to update their knowledge of technologies and other helpful information.

If need be, farmers should be monitored to make sure they apply the new knowledge gained on their farms.

  1. Poor Infrastructure:

Poor infrastructure is another serious agricultural problem. This will discourage possible local and foreign investors, resulting in the wastage of farm products that are cultivated under this.

  • Solution:

The government also has a role to play here by providing basic amenities like good roads, water, and electricity for farmers.

This may help to reinforce productivity and farm yield. This output can also be invested in other farms.

  1. Poor Research and Record-Keeping:

Farm records are poorly kept, if even kept at all. They do not keep accurate track of farm activities and farm information.

Necessary information about the Nigerian farm market can’t be easily accessed, and important information like market prices is relevant.

Without this important piece of data, there is adulteration of figures as regards farming. Agricultural development can’t be accurately measured with a disorganized farm record(s).

This makes it quite difficult to identify some farming issues and find solutions to them.

  • Solution:

Proper documentation and record-keeping of farming information should be encouraged.

  1. Finance:

Finance is another major factor restricting farmers from growing and making an honest living from agriculture. These funds aren’t easy to return because some banks don’t loan to them for various reasons.

This results in the farmers struggling to make a living. This discourages potential farmers from venturing into the farming business.

  • Solution:

The government should make available agricultural grants to intending farmers or already-existing farmers to spice up their agricultural businesses.


What are the Roles Of Agriculture in Nigeria?

Agriculture may be a major part of the Nigerian economy, but it’s the main source of livelihood for an honest number of Nigerians. In West African countries, the farming sector employs roughly 70% of the whole country’s labour pool.

In Nigeria, about 80% of the entire food is from small farm products, and 33% of its landmass is under cultivation. Nigeria is the leading African country in farming, with the very best levels of productivity and profitability.

Below are the roles of agriculture in Nigeria:

  1. Source of Food Supply:

Needless to mention, agriculture has sustained mankind for as long as it has. Whether an underdeveloped, developing, or developed country, all of them depend upon agriculture to survive.

  1. Contribution to value:

Agriculture has contributed immensely to the economy of the state. Important to note is that even the developed nations once relied on agriculture at the time of their development or advancement.

  1. Relief from Capital Shortage:

Agricultural development has helped developing countries urge relief from the shortage of capital. Already, developing nations have relied on foreign capital to travel, but agriculture has come to the rescue.

  1. Pre-Requisite for Raw Materials:

Aside from providing food for consumption, agriculture also provides raw materials, and this has greatly improved the agro-based industries, thereby making these products very affordable and contributing to the economy.

  1. Creation of Infrastructure:

As agriculture is the centre of the economy, Its development and advancement equally affect other sectors, just like the development of national infrastructures like roads, storage units, transportation railways, market yards, postal services, etc.

A sector that creates high demands for industrial products, the agricultural sector also requires the development of the commercial sector.


Read also: Farm and Ranch Management; Here is Everything You Need to Know.


What are the Agriculture Opportunities In Nigeria?

Agriculture in Nigeria has taken a powerful turn in a better direction in recent times, generating job opportunities and other favourable opportunities for entrepreneurs who wish to travel into agribusiness.

Agriculture has been making millionaires every now and then. There’s no stopping the proportion of wealth agriculture can bring back to intending farmers.

  1. Nigeria is 2 times bigger than Zimbabwe and South Africa has an enormous population of over 200 million people.
    This complete population depends upon the basic foods produced by farms, and another farm produces them for his or her daily meals and sustenance. Over 80% of Nigerians acquire their farm products from the market.
  2. Nigerian features an acreage of 910,770 sq km when measured. Nigeria has a large area of fertile farmlands lying fallow across the state.
    An acreage of a country is often measured by the country’s total area, excluding areas that are considered to be water bodies. This makes Nigeria a nation with a great landmass, with 70% available for farming.
  3. The Nigerian government is not neglecting the agricultural sector. It has shifted its focus towards promoting agriculture to increase food production and reduce the need for food imports.
    The government is eager to support and assist any farmer, entrepreneur, or investor interested in agriculture with the necessary resources and logistics.
  4. Nigerians are known for having the highest purchasing power in Africa, surpassing other African nations. They also have a culture of immediate shopping and payment.
    Nigerians are famous for their love of parties, and the Yoruba people in the western part of Nigeria are known for their festive celebrations, which involve a lot of food.
    With its robust agricultural sector, Nigeria can feed four other African countries.
  5. With the speed at which Nigeria goes with her agricultural venture, farming will become an excellent foreign currency, much better than the oil sector.
    Meaning that farmers can earn in Naira and dollars as well.



Agriculture is one sector that has not just been important but has helped mankind thrive on the surface of the world.

Its importance cannot be overemphasized; it has played a serious role not just in feeding mankind but has also provided raw materials that have helped in man’s all-round development, and Nigeria has not been left out.

Agriculture in Nigeria is very broad and lucky for you, this article has covered all of these broad areas. Do well to share with your friends outside and within Nigeria.

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