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Institute for Agricultural Research, Samaru,
Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria.


Inspite of the rapid exploitation of mineral oil in

.the late 1960s to the 1970s, agriculture has continued to

remain the main stay of the Nigerian economy. Over 70% of

the country's estimated human population of 100 million is

directly or indirectly dependent on agriculture for their

livelihood. Put in other words, agriculture provides the

bulk of the employment, income and fooc£ for our growing

population as well as the raw materials for our expanding

agro-based industries, including the feeds for livestock.

Presently, agriculture Accounts for some 65% of Nigeria's

non-oil expbrts,- about 5% of total export and 23% of the

gross domestic products. Whereas it is generally agreed

that the short and medium-term prospects for overall growth

of the Nigerian economy are bright, the long-term prospects

are believed to depend on the success of efforts to

diversify the economy and particularly the improved

performance of the agricultural sector.

* Delegates Conference of Science Societies in Nigeria

Organised by the Nigerian Academy of Science at its
10th Anniversary, 26 - 30 April, 1987, Lagos.
1. Resources for Agriculture

Nigeria is endowed with very good natural resources

for the production of a wide range of food and industrial

crops. The country occupies a land mass of over 98 million

hectares between latitudes 4 and 14°N and longitudes 2 and

15°E. The total cultivable land is 71.2 million hectares

out of which some 34 million hectares are presently under


The climate of Nigeris is influeced by two trade winds.

From April to September, the moist South-West trade winds

predominate. The dry North-East trade winds, generally

referred to as Harmattan, are experienced from October to

' ■ ■! j •;

March. The mean maximum temperature is about 30°C in the

south and 34°C in the north, with a decrease of about 2°C

per metres of altitude. The highest temperatures occur

between February and April in the south and March to June

in the north. The mean minimum temperature is about 22°C

in the south and falls to 19°C in the north. The mean

daily range of temperature is higher in the north than in

the south. In the south the range is usually not more

than 8^C.

Both the amount and distribution of rainfall show a

distinct and fairly regular south-north gradient in which

the annual rainfall decreases from the coast inland. The

south has an annual rainfall of 3,550mm which amount

decreases to 700mm or less in the extreme north. There

are two major rain peaks in the south. In the north, the

rainy season gradually changes into a single peak, from

June to September.
- 3 -

The range of humidity varies greatly but is notably

higher in the south than in the north. Towards the end of

the dry season, humidity may fall well below lO% in the

afternoon, but may rise as high as 90% at dawn in the rainy

season. Annual deylength in the country varies from 11%

hours to about 12 hours 40 minutes.

The climate is characterised by distinct wet and dry

seasons. The mean annual rainfall, potential evapo-

transpiration and the length of the growing season across

the country is shown in Figure 1. Because of the varied

total rainfall and length of the growing season from north

to south, a wide range of farming systems is practised

involving many different crops in the major ecological

sub-divisions as shown in Figure 2.

In the semi-arid regions of the country, the soils are

mostly young with limited profile development. The soils

are derived mainly from aeolian material overlying basement

complex and, in many cases, from sedimentary deposits.

The top soils are notably sandy and low in organic matter,

usually less than 0.5%. The clay fraction is characteris­

tically low, rarely exceeding 2o%. The cation exchange

capacity is also low and most often falls below 5 meq/lOOg

of soil. The structural stability of the soil is generally

poor and the consequent surface compaction tends to enhance

runoff and erosion.

In the forest areas the soils are, in general, subject

to higher rainfalls than most of the savanna areas and to

two wet seasons rather than one. Since forest top soils

generally have a higher organic matter content than those

of savanna"areas and, therefore, a higher organic «apacity,

the total quantity of bases held in the exchange complex is

often considerably higher than in the savanna areas. In

the very high rainfall areas of the foxeSt zone total

precipitation, especially during May/june, often exceeds

that which can be lost by evapo-transpiration. This infers

that considerable soil erosion and leaching can be expected

during the period of heavy rainfall. The pattern of rain­

fall has, thus, among other factors determined the types

of crops and systems of cultivation and land tillage

practices that are adopted.

2. Vegetation and Agricultural Systems

The main vegetation zones shown in Figure 2 can be

generalised into two types: forest and savanna. These two

broad vegetation types affect agriculture through their

influences on fallow and soil fertility and the establish­

ment of natural ecosystems which constitute useful models

for agriculture. The impact of vegetation is also felt on

cropping patterns and livestock management techniques.

Similarly, agriculture profoundly affects natural vegetation

characteristics and cultivated plants -which are substituted

for it, thus bringing about a considerable modification of

the existing ecosystem with varying effects^on environmental


The farming systems of the Forest zone are considered

to be ecologically more balanced than those of the savanna.

This is particularly true of the food production systems.

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e? Southern
Sudan Savanna

P ~\— T-
4° 6° a0 10° 12° \P E

Fig.2? Map of Nigeria showing the

main ecological zones and states.

In the Forest zone, the mixed vegeculture farming system,

which is predominant, is characterized by root crop

dominance, with cereals playing a secondary role in

cultivation. For example, in sourthern Nigeria the mixed

cropping system consists of root crops and plantains,

pumpkins and occasional stands of maize and several

vegetables. This is a close representation of the natural

ecosystem and implies the substitution of required

domesticated plant species for the wild ones destroyed

during the process of land clearing. Erosion is checked

because the ground is well covered during the wet season

when run-off is most intense. Other factors which

contribute to only a limited disturbance of the ecosystem

under traditional cultivation are the short duration-jjf the

farming operations and the presence of living roots in the

soil which provide a supply of nutrients to the crops.

With regards to permanent tree crops, although the

ecological stability achieved is lower and the nutrient-- .

levels decline, the micro-climatic features of Tropical

Forests are maintained. This is strengthened by the

practice of leaving some forest tress undisturbed in

peasant, plantations and the planting of cover crops beneath

the trees._

In contrast to this system, the grain culture cultiva­

tion, which characterises savanna farming, is based on a

highly productive combination of cereals, leguminous grains

and a host of other crop types., including vegetable, fibres.

The dominance of cereals and other nutrient-demanding crops,


the less complex stratification and the more open canopy


which increases opportunities for weed invasion all combine

to make this type of cultivation less conservative of soil

resources and more prone to shift one temporary clearing

to the other.

The majority of farmers operate at the subsistence

level, with land holdings averaging between 1 and 2

hectares per family. Farms are invariably scattered over

a wide area and are worked mainly by family labour. As a

means of maintaining the productivity of the land, a system

of long»term rotation is traditionally employed involving

alternating a period of cropping with a period of bush

fallow. The level of technology employed in this traditional

system of farming is low and consequently the productive

efficiency is also low.


1. Cereals

The range of crops cultivated in the different parts

and ecologies of Nigeria for food and industrial purposes

is wide and variable. In terms of land area and total

grain output, the cereals are by farm the most important

crops (Table 1). They constitute the most concentrated

and cheapest sources of food energy known to man. Among

the important cereals widely cultivated in the country

are rice (Qryza sativa), maize (Zea mays), guinea corn

(Sorghum bicolor), millet (Pennisetum typnoideum) and

sugar cane (Saccharum officinarum). Although essentially

a temperate crop requiring a cool climate, wheat (Triticum

aestivum) is rapidly becoming an important crop especially


Table Is Production statistics of major food and

industrial crops ('000 metric tons)

Nigeria Total Africa Total World Total

C r o p
1970 1975 1980 1980 1980

Sorghum 3,632 3,590 3,800 10,287 58,435

Millet 2,792 3,000 3,200 10,767 28,918

Maize 1,-220 1,260 1,550 27,191 392,249

R i c e 400 600 725; . 8,429 399,779

Wheat NA* 18 21 8,634 444,535

Seeh Cotton 174 157 90 3,335 42,111

Groundnut 1,175 280 570 4,801 18,901

Soyabean .12 ,65 77 310 83,481

Cowpea 710 **• NA* 850 1,288 14,664

Cassava • 6,800 10,500 1,100 46,773 122,134

Palm oil 480 640 675 1,365 5,080

Sugar cane 240 700 750 57,207 730,723

Coffee.- ivi 4 3 3 1,151 . 4,821

Cocoa 219 216 175 927 1,557

Rubber 56 95 60 204 • Ji'-


*NA = not available

- 10

in the semi-arid regions of the country where it is grown

under irrigation during the Harmattan period.

Sorghum is relatively more drought-tolerant than maize,

but less so than millet. This feature favours the highest

production of sorghum in the Sudan and Northern Guinea,

with millet extending to the Sahel zone. The greatest

production potential of maize has been shown to be in the

,Northern Guinea primarily on- account of higher solar

radiation relative to wetter conditions ih-the Southern

Guinea and Forest zones. Sugar cane is about the only

tropical cereal.which is grown.not for its seeds, but for

its juicy stems. It is presently the sole source of sugar

in;Nigeria. Like wheat, rice and maize which grains are

important commodities in international commerce, sorghum

and, to a lesser extent millet, have recently assumed

greater importance as industrial raw materials.

• Other lesser known but high-value cereal crop

cultivated in localised areas of the country include

'acha1 (Digitaria exillis) and barley (Hordeum vulgare).

-----The various.research institutes in the country have

done much in effecting respectable advances in the grain

yield and other characteristics of the major cultivated

cereals. Since improved and good quality seeds and

planting materials are basic inputs in the production

process, the nature of available technology might best be

perceived by high-lighting current achievements related to

crop variety improvement.


a) As many as 17 high-yielding pure line sorghum

varieties have been bred and released for production

in the Sudan, Northern Guinea and Southern Guinea

savanna. These varieties have continued to maintain

their high yield superiority.

b) Three sorghum hybrids have been bred suitable for

the Guinea savanna and which yield potential

averages up to 40% greater than- the best Existing

pure lines. Work is currently going on to purify

these hybrids before their formal release for


c) Several sorghum types suitable for malting and

brewing have been identified of which variety

1SK-5912' has since been released for cultivation

and is presently in use in the brewing industry.

d) Improved millet varieties have been developed for

production in the Guinea and Sudan zones, including

'Ex-Borno1 and 'Nigerian Composite.' In addition,

six 'Samaru Early' varieties with grain yield

averaging 2.5 tons/ha are in the final stages of

testing for release.

e) Apart from the several pure line maize varieties

released for cultivation throughout the country,

medium maturity types yielding up to 50% above the

local varieties have been developed for higher

altitude areas of the Northern Guinea. But the

most recent break-though in maize research is "the


release of hybrid maize whose yield potentials

in the savanna zone range between 6 and lO tons/ha.

f) Five high-yielding (up to 4 tons/ha) bread-type

wheat varieties have been selected and released

for cultivation under irrigation, including 'Tousson'

•Florence Aurore 8193 •, 'Sonora 63', 'LeexNIOB1

and 'Siete Cerros1.

g) Eight varieties of barley have been identified to

be high-yieldihg arid adaptable for cultivation

under irrigation in the Sudan and Northern Guinea.

h) Three upland rice and 11 swamp (lowland) rice

varieties are currently recommended for the

• various States of the Federation. In addition,

•Faro-14' has been suggested as a floating variety

for the flooded areas of Sokoto and Hadejia, and

•Faro-71 for flooded areas of southern Nigeria.

Permit me to point out a.t this stage the fact that each

crop variety developed and released for production is

accompanied with a tested production package of recommended

management and cultural practices, including proper land

preparation of the seedbed, seed treatment, seed rate,

sowing date, fertilizer use and manuring, crop protection

measures, weed control, harvesting, processing and storage.

The same approach holds true of other crops and their

recommended varieties.

2. Oilseeds

While the production of fixed oils and their storage

as food reserves is a wide-spread phenomenon in the plant

kingdom, only about 30 species have so far been commercially

exploited world-wide for the extraction of oil (Table 2).

Of this number, some 12 - 13 specie.s produce almost the

entire world supply of avegetable oils. In Nigeria, the

major cultivated oil crops include groundnut, cotton, oil

palm and, to a lesser extent soyabean, benniseed, sunflower

shea-butter and coconut. In the 195.0s and 60s, favourable

circumstances in the export marke.ia.ha_d enabled groundnut to

develop into the main cash crop over much, of the Northern

Guinea, Sudan and Sahel zones. But from the early 1970s

production had been on the decline for a complex of reasons,

including problems of weather and rosette: disease. While

the cultivatisn of cotton is primarily for its fibre, the

seed is a valuable by-product the world over. Major States

of cotton production include Kaduna, Sokoto and Bauchi which,

together, account for over 72% of the national crop. Until

recently, the cultivation of soyabean had been largely

restricted to the Southern Guinea savanna. With recent

research information, it is evident that the crop thrives

best in the Northern Guinea and areas to the southern fringes

of the Sudan zone, As in the case of cotton, the oil

extracted from soyabean is a by-product of the proteinaceous

grains for which the crop is mainly cultivated. Oil palm

and coconut are essentially lowland and forest climates ,,i_

where there is plenty of rain, abundance of sunshine and w

warm temperatures.

Table 2% Major oilseed crops cultivated or of

potential in Nigeria

C r o p % Oil

Groundnut (Arachis hypogaea) 45 - 50

Cotton (Gossypium spp.) 20

Oil palm (Elaeis guineensis) 65 - 84

Soyabean (Glycine max) 18

Benniseed (Sesamum indicum) 43 - 57

Shea, butter (Butyrospermum parkii ) 50

Cocoa nut (Cocos mucifera) 58 - 63

Linseed (Linum usitatissimum) 40 - 46

Castor (Ricirus communis) 35 - 55

Safflower (Carthamus tinctorium) 27 - 30

Sunflower (Helianthus annus) 25 - 50

Niger (Guizotia abyssinia) 40 - 45

Neem (Azadirachta indica) 40 - 45

African Walnut (Coula edulis) 30

Jojoba (Simmodsia chinensis) 50

Sour sop (Anona muricata) 24

Sweet sop (Anona squamosa) 15

African breadfruit (Treculia africana) 30

African star apple (Chrysophyllum albidum) 17

Oil bean (Pentaclethra macrophyllum) 46

"Ofo" (= Ibo) (Detarium microcarpum) 12

Boabab (Adansonia digitata) 13

Silk cotton (Ceiba pentandra) 25


a) With regard to recorded achievements related to

crop improvement, not less than 13 high-yielding

varieties of groundnut have been released with a

range of growth cycle at 105 - 150 days and

incorporating disease and drought tolerance in

several of the cultivars. The varieties have a

yield range potential from 1.5 - 2.5 tons/ha, with

a few attaining 2.5 - 3.5 tons/ha under good

management - representing 25 - 30% yield advantage

over the best local selections.

b) Three newly developed benniseed varieties are in

the final stages of testing before formal release.

These newer varieties have conssistently outyielded

the standard ’Yandev-55' by 60 - 100%, averaging

1.5 tons/ha and with oil content averaging 30%.

c) In recent years, research" on sunflower has been

receiving increasing attention,, especially in those

States where the cultivation of groundnut is

problematic as a result of inadequate rainfall.

Germplasm of sunflower is being collected and

tested' and some lines have been observed to yield

as much as 2 tons/ha of seed containing upto 35%


3. Grain Legumes

The grain legumes are distinguished in the plant family

Leguminosae by virtue of having their seeds used for food.

They include a variety of beans and peas as well as the


lupins and bambarra groundnuts. The importance of grain

legumes is largely on account of the high nutritive value

of their seeds (Table 3). The high protein content of most

grain legume seeds recommends these crops as a good source

of protein, especially in areas where there is shortage of

animal protein.

An estimated 80% of the cowpea produced in Nigeria

comes from the savanna and notably the Northern Guinea and

Sudan sub-zones. The crop is subjected to heavy disease

and insect pest attacks, especially when grown in such

humid environments as occur in the Southern Guinea savanna

and Forest zone. As already indicated, soyabean is

relatively drought and high-temperature tolerant. Other

lesser known grain legumes of potential include variable

species of Phaseolus.

Table 3; Nutritive value of major grain legumes

in Nigeria

% Protein
(per 100g of grain)

Groundnut (Arachis hypogaea) 25.6

Cowpea (Vigna unguiculata) 23.4

Soyabean (Glycine max) 38.0

Pigeon pea (Calanus cajan) 20.9

Lima bean (Phaseolus lunatus) 19.7

Bambara groundnut (Voandzeia subterranea) 35.0


About 10 cowpea varieties are currently recommended for

production in the various ecological areas and with yield

potentials ranging from 1.5 - 2.5 tons/ha. With regard

to soyabean, the two improved cultivars are 'Samsoy-l1 and

'Samsoy-2' with a yield potential ranging from 1.5 - 2.0

tons/ha. Both cultivars have a major trait of resistance

to shattering and they do not lodge.

4. Vegetable Fibres

Cotton is the most important fibre crop the world over.

Cotton is essentially a savanna crop where soil and

environmental conditions are more suited for its cultivation.

The crop is presently produced almost entirely under rainfed

conditions, although it performs best as an irrigated crop

where moisture is more assured. While the yield and quality

of seed cotton tends to be low in the Derived savanna

areas of Oyo, Ogun and Bendel states, a large proportion

of the crop produced therefrom is of improved staple length,

presumably because of more assured availability of moisture.

Other fibre crops of importance in Nigeria include Kenaf

(Hibiscus sp.), jute (Corchorus capsularies) and silk


The currently recommended varieties of cotton for

production are tSamaru-Tl’ and fS&maru-77I - with a yield

advantage of 15 - 25% over the older varieties.

5. Roots and Tubers

With the exception of cereals, root and tuber crops

constitute the most important group of stable foods not

only in Nigeria, but also in the tropical world. In


addition to their direct value to man, roots and tubers

are also assuming an increasing importance as livestock

feeds. Among roots and tubers of greatest importance in

Nigeria are cassava (Manihot esculenta), yams (Dioscorea

sp.) and cocoyams (Colocasia and Xanthosama sp*). Nigeria

alone produces three-fourths of the world's output of yams.

The production of the crop is undertaken in the Forest,

Derived savanna and the Southern Guinea savanna. The most

important areas of yam production, covering about 50% of

the land area put to the crop, are in parts of Cross River

and Anambra States. Other important yam-producing states

include Kwara, Bendel, Benue and Plateau.

Inspite of its comparatively’recent introduction in

Nigeria, cassava has emerged as the food crop with the

highest potential. Although widely distributed throughout

the country, the most important cassava-producing areas are

located in the nine states to the south of the country and

which area jointly accounts for over 75% of the land under

the crop. There is a general south-to-north gradation of

cassava production.

Compared to yams and cassava, cocoyam is a minor root

crop cultivated in many parts of the Forest zone and in

areas with high rainfall. The most outstanding areas of

production are the eastern states, with Cross River, Imo

and Anambra accounting for a large proportion of the national

output. The acceptance of cocoyam is relatively low,

probably because of the poisonous nature of some varieties

and its inferior taste relative to other root and tuber


With regard to potatoes, the two main types, sweet and

'Irish', are cultivated in a few restricted areas. Sweet

potato is presently of limited importance on account of

its low preference. Irish potato is mainly cultivated in

the Jos and Mambilla plateux. Its future is, however, not

very promising due to the many diseases that affect the

crop as well as the high incidence of tuber loss during


Other lesser known but important root and tuber crops

include carrot (Daucus carcta) and African yam (Sphenostylis


On the state of cassava technology, distinct varieties

have been recommended- for south-eastern, south-western and

the northern states. Farmer's yields average 7 - 20 tons/ha

of tubers compared to 40 - 50 tons/ha under intensive

management. The most popular variety of Irish potato is

'Up-to-date' with a yield potential of 12 - 15 tons. With

regard to yam, the recently developed mini sett technique

is bound to greatly enhance production.

6. Fruits and Vegetables

A full listing of the numerous fruits, nuts and

vegetables crops cultivated in Nigeria is not feasible in

this presentation. But of major importance are tomato
(Lycopersicon esculentum), onion (Allium cepa), pineapple
(Ananas comosus), plantains and bananas (Musa sp.), okra
(Abelmoschus esculeritus), egg plant (Solarium melongena),
chillies (Capsicum sp.), ginger (Zingiber officinale),
melons (Curcubita, cucumis and Colocynthis spp.), pawpaw
(Carica papaya), cashew (Anacardium occidentale), citrus
(Citrus sp.), mango (Mangifera indica), guava (Psidium

guajava), date palm (Phoenix dactylifera), locust bean

(Park!a clappertoniana). Mention needs to be made of grape

(Vitis vinifera) which cultivation has recently been taken

up seriously especially in parts of the Northern Guinea

and Sudan savanna.

Research has identified major constraints to increased

output of tomatoes and made a number of recommendations

which have had a major impact on production, principally

on its large irrigation projects, A total of 10 varieties

are currently recommended, seven are processing types,

('Roma-VF', ’Harvester', ’Ronita’, 'Piacenza-016',

'Marzanino', 'Cirio-56' 'Gamad') and three are fresh

(market) types ('Enterpriser', 'Ife-1' and 'La-Bonita').

On onion, a few advanced local selections have been

identified for evaluation in on-farm adaptive trials,

including 'Composite-1', 'Composite-4' 'D-77' and 'RD-771.

7. Beverages and Stimulants

Cocoa (Theobroma cacao) , kola (Cola acuminata), tea,

(Camellia sinensis) and coffee (Coffea sp.) owe their

popularity to their refreshing and stimulating properties

which result from the presence of variable amounts of

caffein or related substance. While the cultivation of

cocoa and kola is concentrated in the high rainfall areas

of southern Nigeria, the best tea and coffee come from the

high altitude areas of the Mambilla Plateau. Yield

expectancies are up to 900 kg/ha of dry beans for cocoa,

800 - 1500 kg/ha for coffee beans and 500 kg/ha (250 nuts/

tree) of fresh kola nuts per annum.


Tobacco (Nicotina tobaccum) is among the most widely

grown commercially non-food crop the world over. Because

of its economic and social importance and inspite of its

possible danger to life as a habit-forming narcotic,

attempts to curtail its production or even ban its use

entirely have not met with much success. Indeed, the

consumption of tobacco, particularly by smoking, has

continued to increase. Production of tobacco is presently

concentrated in parts of Kaduna, Sokoto, Plateau and Kano

States. .Among improved varieties cultivated by farmers

in the northern states are 'Rio1 for upland areas and

'Amalolo1 for low-lying (fadama) areas. The Virginia

hybrid 'Ishen1 is reported to also yield well. Farmers

yield vary between 400 - 600 kg/ha of cured tobacco leaf?

under improved management the yield is up to 1.7 - 2.0


8. Other Technological Advances

Work in the various laboratories in the country on the

efficient utilization of food crops has clearly shown that

locally-grown wheat varieties possess good baking quality

compara.ble to imported wheat grains or flour. The technology

••• r \ f ..

for producing good and acceptable bread at laboratory level

from local wheat plus sorghum and local wheat plus maize

composite flour has been developed, up to 50% level of

substitution. Tests carried out so far in the savanna area

indicate a preference for wheat-sorghum bread relative to

that baked from wheat-maize flour. Other locally produced

crops successfully used as wheat substitutes for bread


include cassava and plantain. Work is currently going on

to improve on the technology towards enabling an increase

in the proportion of indigenous crop component while

reducing the level of wheat input.

With regard to irrigated agriculture, research

institutes have developed production packages for the

various important irrigated crops involving the efficient

use of water, fertilizers avid other inputs as well as the

proper management of the soil.

In an effort to reduce human drudgery, minimise labour

costs and enhance overall productivity and efficiency,

various Universities, Polytechnics and Research Institutes

have designed,fabricated and tested an array of agricultural

tools and equipment suitable for Nigerian conditions. At

Samaru, for instance, many of the prototype machines and

equipment developed are presently awaiting mass production

for the benefit of users, including maize-"Shdllers, guinea

corn threshers, groundnut picker and decorticators, cowpea

thresher, straddle row weeder and a multiple thresher for

wheat, sorghum and millet. I believe more will likely be

said on break-throughs related to agricultural equipment

when the topic on food processing and preservation comes up.


From what we have said thus far, it is without a doubt

that Nigeria is, indeed, blessed with the human, land and

climatic resources for the successful cutivation of a wide

variety of food and export crops. In the past and especially

up till the late 1960s, the farming activities of the small

- 23 -

holder farmer, employing traditional system of farming,

were adequate to feed, the nation to the extent of near

self-sufficiency in respect of the basic foods. Indded,

substantial quantities of a wide range of export crops,

notably groundnut, cotton, cocoa and palm oil, were produced

which earned the nation not less than 75% of its foreign

exchange revenues. But while the traditional methods and

practices utilized by farmers in the past might have been

sufficient to generate enough production for themselves and

their families and to produce surpluses for sale, rapid

increases in human population, changing pattern of consumption

as well as increases in incomes and rising expectation

brought about by the 'oil boom' has resulted in a situation provide for the .necessary national needs--and..

exportable surpluses the traditional ways of producing

crops will have to be dramatically improved upon. As

indicated in Table 4, crop yields based on farmers' level

of management are invariably inferior to yields achieved

under experimental conditions. It is thus clear that

farmers are achieving only a small proportion of the yields

that are possible for their crops with a consequent low

productivity and an inability to attain national self-

Table 4% Yield performance of selected food crops at
three levels of technology under sole cropping
in the Nigerian savanna (kg/ha)

Farmer 1s Practice Research Station;

Crop Improved Improved Technology
technology technology

Sorghum 785 1,680 3,920

Millet 740 1,344 2,800

Maize 1,046 3,000 7,840

R i c e 940 1,445 3,360

Wheat ' 1,750 - 4,500

Cassava 5,570 11,263 22,580

Y a m s 6,272 9,000 20,070

Groundnut 586 1,120 2,240

Among possible causes of low crop output and the

resulting inability to attain national self-sufficiency

are the following considerations;

a) Unfavourable weather conditions and notably

rainfall in the Northern Guinea, Sudan and Sahel

zones. Rainfall has generally been irregular and

unpredictable both in amount and distribution.

The frequent occurrence of drought conditions has

only compounded situations. Not only have

unfavourable growth conditions discouraged the

production and reduced the yields of such crops

as cotton and groundnut in their traditional

areas of production, but also the land area annually

put to these crops have suffered drastic reductions


especially since the early 1970s.

b) Difficulties relating to the ready availability

of agricultural inputs invariably constitute

serious bottlenecks to increased agricultural

output. Where supplies of agricultural equipment,

seeds, fertilizers, insecticides, fungicides,

herbicides and other are available,

they are often too limited in quantity and/or too

expensive to afford in the sort of quantities and

levels that would guarantee optimum production.

Reduction in the levels of subsidy for agricultural

inputs merely worsens the already serious situation

with the ultimate consequence of reduced crop output.

c) More often than note, the land tenure system makes

it difficult for people wanting to farm to readily

obtain agricultural land. This is a particularly

real problem faced by new entrants to agriculture

who invariably have neither the financial

resources to purchase nor the societal standing

to acquire land for agricultural purposes.

d) Crddit facilities available for agricultural

purposes and especially to small holders are not

only always scarce and inadequate but also their

procedures are often too cumbersone and.their

conditions hard and near impossible to satisfy.

e) Poor managerial skill on the part of the farmers

to properly organise and effectively co-ordinate


the use of improved technologies is also an

important cause of reduced crop output. This is

more so the case given a situation of poor,

inadequate and ineffective support given to

agricultural extension and the extension system.

f) For many crops and in respect of numerous locations

what research information there is proves either

inadequate, inappropriate or incomplete as a

package of technology.

g) The absence of an organised and ready outlet for a particular

agricultural produce in any one year is an

important factor that influences a farmer’s decision

in favour of reducing or, indeed, altogether

avoiding its cultivation the following year. Even

with all their seeming short-comings, the recent

dissolution of commodity boards has ushered in a

free-market situation in which farmers are left to

cope with the marketing of their produce. As

evidenced with the marketing of the 1986 produce,

substantial crops like cotton were left without

buyers or, at best, they were disposed of with

considerable difficulties and at prices that bore

little relationship with the cost of production.

Similarly, farmers were left with tons of unsold

cereal grains and notably maize, sorghum and

millet. Where they were disposed of, the rates of

sale were invariably lower than the cost of

production. The net effect of such an unsatisfactory


situation is a likely tendecy away from or, at best,

a reduction in the cultivation of such difficult-to-

sell crops.

h) Also of significance in reducing the national output

of crops is the increasing migration of able-bodied

youths from rural areas to cities in search of jobs.

The occurrence of the oil boom and its after effects

have provided strong incentives in favour of this

rural-to-urban drift.

i) The lack of suitable storage and processing

facilities for agricultural produce constitutes a

serious limitation in the effort to attain self-

sufficiency in food production. The nation's

strategic grain reserves are inadequate in capacity

and ecological coverage. They are mostly ill-

equipped such that stored agricultural produce

easily gets damaged and spoiled within relatively

short periods. The paucity of industrial processing

of particularly fruit and vegetable crops as well

as roots and tubers results in enormous crop losses

soon after harvest.

j) The periodic occurrence of locusts, quelea birds,

rosette virus, striga as well as other pests and

diseases has a serious implication in the overall

crop output.


With the awareness that food production was not

keeping pace with population growth, past Governments of

the Federal Republic initiated special programmes towards

ensuring food supplies in adequate quanity and quality for

its increasing human population. Among programmes initiated

to satisfy the aggregate demand for food and raw material

were the followings

a) The National Accelerated Food Production

Programme (NAFPP) which was initiated during the

1970-74 National Plan took off during the 1975-80 Plan.

The programme was designed to enhance the rate of

.technology transfer in respect of specific crops

considered of priority. While the programme was

generally considered well designed and the approach

purposeful, its implementation soon came into a

conflicting duplicity with the activities of other

agricultural outfits estblished later whose mandates

were similar to those of NAFPP. Even though the

activities of today's NAFPP have? been streamlined

to dovetail into those of similar organisations, the

programme has most certainly outlived its usefulness.

b) The Operation Feed the Nation programme which,

although quite successful in bringing agriculture

into public limelight and emphasizing its importance,

it was rather disjointly planned, too short-term in

scope such that it hardly made any serious impact

on the agricultural sector.


c) The Green Revolution programme was aimed at

attaining an agricultural revolution in the

country within the shortest possible time.

Laudable as the programme was and with all the

resources devoted to the programme, it too proved

a wasted effort and a drain to the national purse.

d) Created primarily to .harness the nation's water

resources for development, the River Basin

Development Authorities have suffered from too

many .and too frequent policy changes affecting

their numbers, mandates and locations. Freed

from such other previously assigned responsibilities

as crop production, rural development and input

delivery services and left only with their

initial responsibility for water resources

development, any impact of RBDAs on agricultural

production has thus far been less than dramatically


e) The establishment of Agricultural Development Projects

was mainly aimed at increasing agricultural

production by the development and provision of

input delivery systems, low-cost agricultural

feeder roads, water supplies, soil conservation

works, effective extension service and the

provision of credit and marketing services, among

others. Today, the ADPs have become the focal

points of all agricultural development activities

in virtually all the States of the Federation. The


Projects are financed partly from funds borrowed

from the World Bank and supplemented with contri­

butions from both the Federal and State Governments.

Several of the ADPs have recorded quite impressive

achievements in terms of increased crop production

in their areas of responsibility. About the only

major aspect of worry relates to the near-complete

dependence of the programme on external borrowings,

with all the attending conditionalities. The

general experience of most aided-projects in the

country and elsewhere in the developing world is

that they often die'a natural death soon after the

lending/sponsorjng agencies have withdrawn their

support and involvement. For one thing, since the

external loan serves as the most assured contribution

in support of the programme, its withdrawal is liable

to bring the project to a stop. This is more so

when the input from the Federal and State Governments

have been known to come only with considerable

difficulties. Secondly, a major reason for the

greater successes of ADPs relative to Ministries of

Agriculture prior to the era of ADP is related more

to the enhanced level of and stability in funding -

which if not sustained at the termination of the

external input would naturally have negative effects

on the programme. With ADPs having their own

administrative and management structures, what is

left of Ministries of Agriculture after deploying all

extension staff to the Project does constitute a

significant recurrent costs.


f) The programmes of thb Directorate... of..:Eqod, Roads

and Rural Infrastructures, initiated by the present

(Babangida) adnrinistration, are said to aim at

uplifting the quality of life of the rural masses.

As a body operative at the instance of the highest

office in Government and which sees its role as an

energizer for enhanced development, the Directorate

functions in removing bottlenecks in the transfer

of proven technologies toward self-sufficiency.

While the role of the Directorate transcends

ministerial boundries, the fact that the bulk of

rural dwellers are farmers naturally renders its

programme mostly agricultural in content.

: . . .
At just under two years since its creation,' it
. . . .

is a bit too early to assess the performance of the

Directorate. But from what limited information is

gleaned from public pronouncements and the media, so

far so good. About the only meaningful comment at

this stage of the programme is to advise against

the natural tendency to grow, to expand and to spread

unguardedly to the neglect of a concentrated approach

that is trimmed of duplication. With a financial

base that surpasses annual allocation for most State

Governments and virtually all Federal Ministries,

and given its limitation for the effective implemen­

tation of its programmes, notably in terms of

co-ordination, supervisory and monitoring capabilities,

the Directorate might end up being looked upon as

a mere financier.


National self-sufficiency in agriculture implies the

production of enough of those commodities and products

for which the country has suitable environments and

adequate resources and inputs. While it is not possible

and, indeed, necessary for any one country to be completely

self-sufficient in each and every crop cultivated within

its territory, an important ingredient for national

stability, national integrity and enhanced national

development is the requirement that the bulk of the basic

food staples and industrial raw materials for which the

country is endowed with a suitable climate and an abundance

of natural resources must be locally produced. Since the

different areas of the Nigerian nation have comparative

advantages and disadvantages for the different crops,

national self-sufficiency in crop production necessarily

dictates inter-State trade to ensure full complementarity

of areas with different production1potentials.

The maximization of crop yields towards a sustenance of

increased production is possible only if appropriate and

effective strategies are employed and pursued. Strategies

that are effective towards making Nigeria a self-reliant

nation in crop production must necessarily be those which

are successful in removing what bottlenecks have been

identified to hamper the production process. Among

strategies worthy of emphasis are the following considerations.


1. Agricultural Inputs

Be they improved seeds, agro-chemicals or farm

equipments and implements, the issue of agricultural inputs

must be seen from the point of view of their availability

and costs. For the next several decades small-scale

producers are likely to remain the centre piece of Nigeria’s

agricultural attention for increased crop production. That

being so, there must be an- increased use of agricultural

inputs which availability and cost implication necessarily

require the intervention of Government. The present cost

levels of most agricultural inputs are almost beyond

affordable financial means of even the more well-to-do

farmers. This is particularly true of agricultural

equipment which second foreign exchange market (SFEM) prices

are simply too prohibitive. In order to ensure that the

farmer is able to procure enough inputs and especially agro­

chemicals to meet his crop requirements, it is imperative

that Government should continue to bear the current (SFEM)

i J '
level of subsidy on all fertilizers, seed dressing,

insecticides and herbicides. The seriousness of the cost

burden for such a basic input as fertilizer can be seen from

a pre-SFEM price of N10 per 50kg bag or over N35 at SFEM

rate. By maintaining the price of N10 per bag for the 1937

cropping season, it means that the level of subsidy stands

•" * •i:

at 80% at SFEM rate instead of 25% pre-SFEM. While this is

a huge financial burden for Government, failing to do so

and passing the SFEM rate onto the farmer would seriously

jeopardise the nation's march towards self-sufficiency with a

possible consequence towards food importation.


For the long-term and in order to"attain --self-reliance

in agricultural chemicals and eliminate annual expenditures

of scarce foreign exchange, the existing two fertilizer

plants should, as much as possible ■, be sourced from local

raw materials. Some 15 years since the commissioning of

the Kaduna Superphosphate Company, all raw material are still

being imported, with the exception of water. Although

reports about local sources of rock-phosphate near Oshosun

and H a r o (Ogun State) date as far back as the 1960s, there

has been no effort made thus far at commercially exploring

them. More recently there have been reports about the

existence of this raw material in parts of Sokoto State;

Relating to the Onne manufacturing plant where the raw

material for nitrogenous fertilizer in the form of gas is

in abundance, plans for an additional manufacturing

or two ought to have reached an advanced stage now judging

from the country's crop needs for fertilizers and the desire

to be self-reliant in food and fibre production. In the

same vein and using the abundant raw material from petroleum,

there is also the urgent need to establish facilities for

the manufacture of insecicides, fungicides, herbicides and

: 1 • . . i ; • .

other pesticides.

2. Land and Credit

An insurmountable problem faced by nev; entrants into

the practice of agriculture and especially fresh University

and College graduates relates to acquisition of land and

credit. Without land and credit,.no graduate of agriculture,

no matter how practically well trained, can succeed in taking


up farming as a profession. _.It is, therefore, imperative

that Government continuously monitors the implementation of

the Land Use Decree. In addition, it is desirable that

statutory Right of Occupancy granted by Local Governments

should be recognised by banks for the purpose of granting


3. Marketing

An assured market and a stable remunerative price

arrangement are among the greatest incentives that farmers

need in order to guarantee a sustained level of crop

production. Until recently, the system of fixing a minimum

guaranteed price; based on presumed cost of production at

which the commodity boards bought up the produce as a last

resort provided, inefficient as it might have been in concept

and practice, an important arrangement that encouraged and,

indeed, ensured.sustained production. While the role of the

Directorate of Food, Roads and Infrastructure in building

and improving on rural roads has done much towards increasing

farmers’ access to the various ag rircu11ural •markers in the

country, this has hardly alleviated the sorry experiences of

the generality of farmers in not being able to profitably

dispose of their produce in 1986/87. A solution to the

marketing problem of the type in question can be assured

by the creation of a net-work of rural food processing

industries which facilities are virtually lacking at present.

In this way, agricultural products are conserved for regular

distribution throughout the post-harvest season. The

creation of such industries will also permit either product

- 36

concentration for faster and cheaper transportation to the

various markets, or product diversification to meet the

requirements of different buyers.

But in view of the fact that the building of such market

infrastructure will require considerable investment both in

time and finance, serious and urgent consideration needs to

be given to re-establishing the sort of cushioning

arrangement which the crop commodity boards provided until

their dissolution recently. In the context of_. suc-h— an

arrangement, it should ultimately be in our national interest

to explore ways and means of organising' into legal and

controlled markets the massive selling-and-buying of crop

commodities that go on all the time across our common boarders

with neighbouring countries. This is not to mention the need

to explore external markets, especially in the African

contient, for our excess crop and other produce,

4. Manpower Training

The development and/or acquisition of appropriate

technology and its effective application for national self-

sufficiency is a function of the available trained manpower.

As earlier implied, the ratio between agricultural extension

workers and farmers has continued to remain wide. Most

agricultural Faculty departments have continued to be poorly

manned both in terms of numbers and calibre. Research

institutes have continued to suffer from a grosss inadequacy

of specialist staff covering most disciplines but notably

crop genetics and breeding, agricultural engineering and

soils. The implementation of expensively sponsored

- 37 -

agricultural projects have continued to be hampered by a

shortage of trained manpower.

Presumably as a deliberate Government policy, the last

decade or so has witnessed a movement away from oversea

training in favour of patronising our numerous agricultural

faculties and colleges. While this has been a most

commendable step towards attaining self-sufficiency in

manpower training, the enabling support extended to

Universities, Polytechnics and Colleges of Agriculture has

always fallen far short of the increasing demand for trained

and specialist staff. The state of the nation's economy and

the operating economic policies have done much to negatively

affect the country's training, research and development

programmes. Apart from the enormous difficulties posed in

the provision of adequate facilities for training and research

on the basis of the second foreign exchange market, it is

no longer feasible to augment the unsatisfactory staffing

situation in our Universities and Research Institutes by

recruiting specialist from abroad.

In order to remedy this dangerous trend of dwindling

trained manpower, greater emphasis and support needs to be

given to postgraduate training in agriculture. The present

tendency must be strongly discouraged whereby faculty

departments who are struggling to offer undergrauate

programmes of acceptable standard also embark on postgraduate

training. . Instead, it is suggested that postgraduate

programmes should be concentrated and properly funded only

in well established and specified Universities and streamlined

to take into consideration ecological differences as well as

- 38 -

areas pf comparative crop advantage. It is doped that the

on-going exercise on standardisation of academic programmes

under the auspices of the National Universities Commission

would address this important issue in greater detail.

5. Agricultural Research

In the context of their role in developing improved

crop varieties, designing and identifying yield-improving

technologies, effecting improvement on the efficiency of land

use as well as researching into problems of post-harvest

processessing and utilization, and given the constraints

faced in the last lo - 15 years, crop research institutions

in the country can easily be said to more than justify their

existence. However, the level of funding has been too low

and too unstable to enable a maximisation of the potentials

of our national research system, including the Universities,

Polytechnics and Research Institutes. With the recently

announced re-organisation of Research Institutes in which

their total number has grown by two to 25, including the

Ibadan-based National Centre for Genetic Resources and Bio­

technology, it is not at all clear to what extent the new

arrangement is likely to lead to the desired enhancement of

their effectiveness and increased productivity. The expecta­

tion of many has been that the re-organisation would

inevitably involve mergers and thus a reduction in the total

number of Institutes. Given the current level of funding

and projecting tne likely future trend, research institutions

might well be on their way to a grinding halt. This is a

worrying situation, given the fact that Research Institutes

_ 39 _

are the established agencies for the country's scientific

and technological advancement towards national development

and self-reliance. While much national resources are being

devoted for developmental and service programmes in other

sectors of the economy, including those under the aegies of

ADPs, RBDAs and the DFRRI, research institutions which should

normally be expected to provide the technological base and

support for the success of these programmes, are presently

a neglected lot. If the march for self-sufficiency and

self-reliance is to materialise, it is imperative that the

present trend be reversed in favour of effectively extending

practical and purposeful support to particularly the

agricultural research system in the country.

6 . Policy Implementation

The promulgation of clear and well conceived policies

and directives is basic to the successful implementation of

any programme. In a country such as ours where the social,

economic, political and technical levels of development

range rather widely, the performances of both the private

and public sectors and individuals are a function of the

effectiveness of Government in defining policy directives

and ensuring their back-up for implementation. Put in other

words, policy guidelines as affect a particular programme,

if and when they exist, are often not seriously backed towards

ensuring its successful implementation. Specific to

agriculture, mention has been made of, for example, the

laudable Operation Feed the Nation and Green Revolution

programmes/which implementations were less than purposeful.

Two policy decisions recently announced by the present

Government which, if properly implemented, might go down in

history as being fundamental to Nigeria's agricultural

development relate to the ban on importation of wheat and

wheat flour and the compulsory use of sorghum for malt and

the brewering industry. The ban on wheat and wheat flour

has already set into motion serious searches for wheat

substitutes alone or mixed with locally produced wheat

flour for bread and other confectionaries. It is logical

to expect that a ban on imported wheat and wheat flour should

be matched with concerted efforts towards increasing the

local cultivation of the crop. Currently only about 17,000

hectares of irrigated land are cropped to wheat, thus

producing only some 34,000 tons of grain annually (assume*

2 tons/ha). When fully developed, the three schemes of the

Hadejia-Jamare, Sokoto-Rima and Chad River Basin Development

Authorities will have a combined total of 345,000 hectares

of irrigatable land. If it is assumed that only half of

this area is to be put to wheat in each dry season, the

expected production will total 345,000 tons of grain. But

then it should be technically feasible to more than double

this production by expanding the area grown to wheat by the

development of suitable varieties which are adaptable to

rainfed conditions. By this approach, not only would it

be possible to grow the crop the year-round in the "traditional”

wheat zone, but its cultivation could also spread to some of

the other RBDAs in the Sudan and Northern Guinea savanna.

This is to say that in order to attain self-reliance in bread,

there must be a deliberate effort by both Government and the

-■•41 -

private sector to support research into increasing the grain

yield of wheat per unit area as well as developing improved

types that are more heat-tolerant than existing varieties.

With regard to sorghum, not only will the ban in the

importation of barley and malt save the nation from

expending its scarce foreign exchange, but the decision

will go a long way towards enhancing the status of sorghum

as a food and industrial crop. It is for this dual use

of the crop that special support should be extended for the

development of higher-yielding pure lines varieties as well

as hybrids. As earlier mentioned, barley is locally produced

under the same conditions as for wheat. ,

7. Other Areas of Information Gaps

Beside the need to pursue research on wheat and sorghum

in line with the suggestions made above, the following

constitute important areas of information gap towards a

realisation of nation self-reliance in crop production.

First, there is a need to develop short duration cereals

groundnut, cowpea and cotton for Sudan and Northern Guinea

which sub-zones have continued to receive- reduced rainfall.

Secondly, with the increasing labour expended on cotton, it

is imperative that varieties which plants lend themselves

to mechanical handling, especially at picking, would need

to be developed. Still on cotton, there is an urgent need

to develop long-staple cotton varieties that are suitable

for production in the rainy season and supplemented with

irrigation water. Such varieties should also do well in the

wetter parts of the Southern Guinea and Derived savanna,

- 42 -

including parts of Kwara, Oyo, Ondo and Bendel States. It

should be noted that Nigeria does not produce long-staple

cotton which lint is suitable for the manufacture of high

quality cloth. In extending the production of cotton (and

groundnut) to the Southern Guinea and Derived savanna,

studies would need to be undertaken related to pests and

diseases and their control. The fourth important area of

research need relates to the development of more vigorous

and high-yielding cocoa varieties which are either immune

or more resistant to black pod disease and mirid pests;

varieties that may not require shade for establishment.

Relating to oil palm, there needs to be an intensification

of efforts towards shorter, high-yielding and disease

tolerant varieties. In order to keep pace with such

countries as Ivory Coast and Malaysia, research should be

geared towards breeding hybrids that can yield not less

than 15 tons/ha and an extraction rate of 18 - 2o%. The

need to develop a tissue culture technique for oil palm

improvement cannot be over-emphasized. Clonal propagation

of elite planting materials would give increased yield in the

order of up to 40%.
Finally, there are many indegenous crops which used to

be of value but which have become neglected with time.

Some of these are not only items of food, but they also have

special oils and are used for medicinal purposes.



Aca_u, xf*U iX 0 l--‘\j0 -

j•). liarketi prociuc
:L:. 1 ic,eri.3.% VTXiic.n y/ay f’
lorvarc. 3 a:..': =,r on
:al Development, Directorate of F<
ral Infrastructures, Lagos, 37pp.

.9, I.A. and J.Y. Yayoc /1-■*O L'N

\- .• J-
of agricultural servic in Nigeria 1s Ag .CUJ
Development Projects, Ins Recurrerxg Toots jand
Agricultural Development. Edited sy Joan T.owe.
Overseas Dev. Inst., UK, 19 0 “ 1 9 7 .

nous (1 9 7 0 , 71 and 3 0 ). FAO Production "’

O'0 TP'" "ooT
vox.24, 3 x ano 3 T.

Anonymous (1931), First nation; x seminar Green

■volution otrategy an ticena, i.

.j J- • v_> o _L x3 34-) :x av.sgles ror

lr-reliance .n food production _n _;
Study Group Report Food Procuc l/iij yo j~«.— y

Danfuiam, U.L. and. Ctn nr ro iv a rc s in c r e a s e d

production o~ 'cash1
•vosu • crops _u
: i .. , Study
group Report on Rexabilitaticn of ’C s ... ^ '._COOS ,

.ays, ....1 .. and d ./7. 1iorr.; /1 of72).

7 Food crop procuccior
prospectus in norl i .aria. Li .Leo' rapli j D e p t ,
Cl ifcQITXC• ;iCOHSs ■:JiCt j..CL2T3. J J 'J X J- • — - • O • ■
—* L'- X----

. (1935). Oil crops in Nigeria.:. ar t *

strategies for self-suffi0 ie::_c7 . 21:
erence of tie Agricultural Socle ty 0 :
an, 3oOp.

'ayoof.5 • 'lIO : 7
v ° ) * Fertilizer use ano a rxcu.
!1opinent in Nigeri a . >:ation2,1 Se •7*ur>p >n
:iiizer ana X.13 1-.2.C32TXS.ri iiCO-x3-«-y r-r c-r.arcour'