Agriculture to Drive Nigeria's Economic Growth In 2017
Nigeria has huge agricultural potential. With over 84 million hectares of arable land, of which only 40% is cultivated; a population of 167 million people, making her Africa’s largest market; 230 billion cubic meters of water; and abundant and reliable rainfall in over two thirds of its territory, the country has some of the richest natural resources for agricultural production in the world. Not surprisingly, Nigeria used to be a major player in the global agricultural market in the past, as the world’s largest producer of groundnuts and palm oil in the 1960s, and the second largest exporter of cocoa. The country was also self-sufficient in food production before the emergence of oil in the 1960s.
In the past four years, Nigeria’s agriculture sector has undergone major reforms and transformation. The introduction of Agricultural Transformation Agenda (ATA) brought about reforms in the input delivery or Growth Enhancement Support (GES) Scheme, agricultural financing, value chain development, including the Staple Crop Processing Zones, and farm mechanization have yielded an abundant harvest for farmers and great gains for the country. Between 2014 and 2015, national food production grew by 21 million MT and led to a sharp reduction in food imports. Nigeria’s food import bill fell from an all-time high of N3.19 trillion in 2011 to N635 billion in 2014; a 403% reduction. Direct farm jobs rose by 3.56 million in the period 2015 to 2016 due to ATA interventions. Agriculture has become an exciting sector in Nigeria