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Agriculture in Nigeria is a branch of the economy in Nigeria, providing employment for about 30% of the population as of 2010.[1] The sector is being transformed by commercialization at the small, medium and large-scale enterprise levels.[2]


The usage of inorganic fertilizers was promoted by Nigerian government in the 1970s.[3] In 1990, 82 million hectares out of Nigeria's total land area of about 91 million hectares were found to be arable. 42 percent of the cultivable area was farmed. Much of this land was farmed under the bush fallow system, whereby land is left idle for a period of time to allow natural regeneration of soil fertility. 18 million hectares were classified as permanent pasture, but had the potential to support crops. Most of the 20 million hectares covered by forests and woodlands are believed to have agricultural potential.[4]

Agricultural holdings are small and scattered, and farming is carried out with simple tools. Large-scale agriculture is not common. Agriculture contributed 32% to GDP in 2001.[5]

Agricultural productsEdit

A map of Nigeria's main agricultural products.

Major crops include beans rice, sesame, cashew nuts, cassava, cocoa beans, groundnuts, gum arabic, kolanut, maize (corn), melon, millet, palm kernels, palm oil, plantains, rice, rubber, sorghum, soybeans, bananas and yams.

In the past, Nigeria was famous for the export of groundnut and palm kernel oil. But over the years the rate of export of this produce has reduced. A few years back local Nigerian companies has commenced exporting groundnuts, cashew nuts, sesame seeds, moringa seeds, Ginger, cocoa etc.

The country's agricultural products fall into two main groups: food crops produced for home consumption, and exports. Prior to the Nigerian civil war, the country was self-sufficient in food, but increased steeply after 1973. Bread made from American wheat replaced domestic crops as the cheapest staple food.[5] Between 1980 to 2016, Yam production increased from more than 5 million tonnes to 44 million tonnes.[6]

Tonnes produced in 1980 2000 2016
Maize 612,000[7] 4,107,000[7] 764,678[8]
Millet 2,824,000[9] 5,814,000[9] 1,468,668[8]
Guinea corn 3,690,000[10] 7,711,000[10] 6,939,335[8]
Yam 5,250,000[6] 26,210,000[6] 44,109,615[8]
Cassava 11,500,000[11] 32,697,000[11] 57,134,478[8]
Rice, paddy 1,090,000[12] 3,298,000 6,070,813[8]
Melon seed 94,000[13] 345,000[13] 569,398[8]
Cocoyam 208,000[14] 3,886,000[14] 3,175,842[8]
Sesame seed 15,000[15] 72,000 460,988[16]


Cocoa is the leading non-oil foreign exchange earner but the dominance of smallholders and lack of farm labour due to urbanization hold back production. In 1969, Nigeria produced 145,000 tons of cocoa beans, but has the potential for over 300,000 per year. For more productivity, Nigerian Government should give more incentives to cocoa farmers[5]

Rubber is the second-largest non-oil foreign exchange earner.

Oil palmEdit

The palms industry constitutes a significant sector of the Nigerian economy, providing food and raw materials for the Food, Cosmetics, Pharmaceuticals, Plastics and the Bio-energy industries. In Nigeria the institute that has valuable information about oil palm is the Nigerian Institute for Oil Palm Research. The formal mandate of the institute is to conduct research into the production and products of oil palm and other palms of economic importance and transfer its research findings to farmers.[17]

Cash crop productionEdit

Cash crop production historical statistics in Nigeria:[18]

Tonnes produced in 1980 2000 2016
Oil Palm fruit 5,750,000 8,220,000 7,817,207
Cocoa 153,000 338,000 236,521
Groundnut 471,000 2,901,000 3,028,571
Kola nut 135,000 82,000 143,829
Ginger 200 98,000 522,964

Traditional native cropsEdit

Traditional native cereals such as fonio (Digitaria exilis and Digitaria iburua) are still grown in the Middle Belt of central Nigeria.[19]

Other traditional native crops in Nigeria are:[19]

Ministry of AgricultureEdit

A rice paddy field in Nigeria

The government office responsible for Agriculture development and transformation is currently the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development. Primarily funded by the Federal Government, the Ministry currently superintends almost fifty parastatals operating as either key departments or agencies across the country. The Ministry has 2 major departments namely Technical and Service Departments:

  • Technical Departments: Agriculture (Trees and Crops), Fisheries, Livestock, Land Resources, Fertilizer, Food Reserve & Storage and Rural Development.
  • Service Departments: Finance, Human Resources, Procurement, PPAS (Plan, Policy, Analysis & Statistics) and Co-operatives.

The ministry is headed by Audu Ogbeh who was appointed by President Muhammad Buhari on 12 November 2015 succeeding Akinwumi Adesina who was elected to head Africa Development Bank. Buhari also appointed Heineken Lokpobiri as the new Minister of State for Agriculture, and Shehu Ahmad as the Permanent Secretary under a newly created Ministry of Agriculture And Rural Development.[20]


In 2011, the administration of President Jonathan launched an Agricultural Transformation Agenda which was managed by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development. The intended outcome of the agenda is to promote agriculture as a business, integrate the agricultural value chain and make agriculture a key driver of Nigeria's economic growth.[21] To achieve this agenda the government put in place some new measures:

  • New fiscal incentives to encourage domestic import substitution
  • Removal of restrictions on areas of investment and maximum equity ownership in investment by foreign investors
  • currency exchange controls – free transfer of Capital, Profits and Dividends
  • Constitutional guarantees against nationalization/expropriation of investments
  • Zero percent (0%) duty on agricultural machinery and equipment imports
  • Pioneer Tax holiday for agricultural investments
  • Duty Waivers and other industry related incentives e.g., based on use of local raw materials, export orientation

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Labour Force Statistics, 2010". Nigerian Bureau of Statistics. 2010. Archived from the original on 24 April 2015. Retrieved 22 June 2015.
  2. ^ Olomola Ade S. (2007) “Strategies for Managing the Opportunities and Challenges of the Current Agricultural Commodity Booms in SSA” in Seminar Papers on Managing Commodity Booms in Sub-Saharan (: Africa: A Publication of the AERC Senior Policy Seminar IX. African Economic Research Consortium (AERC), Nairobi, Kenya
  3. ^ Pasquini, MW; Alexander, MJ (2005). "Soil fertility management strategies on the Jos Plateau: the need for integrating 'empirical' and 'scientific' knowledge in agricultural development". Geographical Journal. 171 (2): 112–124. doi:10.1111/j.1475-4959.2005.00154.x.
  4. ^ Countries studies, Nigeria
  5. ^ a b c Nigeria agriculture
  6. ^ a b c Verter, Nahanga (2015-05-01). "An Analysis of Yam Production in Nigeria". Acta Universitatis Agriculturae et Silviculturae Mendelianae Brunensis. 63: 659–665. doi:10.11118/actaun201563020659.
  7. ^ a b "Nigeria Maize production, 1961-2017 -". Knoema. Retrieved 2018-07-19.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h "FAOSTAT". Retrieved 2018-07-19.
  9. ^ a b "Quandl". Retrieved 2018-07-19.
  10. ^ a b "factfish Sorghum, production quantity for Nigeria". Retrieved 2018-07-19.
  11. ^ a b Philip; Taylor, D; Sanni, L; Okechukwu, R; Ezedinma, Chuma; Akoroda, M; Lemchi, J; Ilona, Paul; Ogbe, F (2005-03-01). "The Nigerian Cassava Industry Statistical Handbook". ISBN 978-978-131-268-7. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  12. ^ "Nigeria Rice, paddy production, 1961-2017 -". Knoema. Retrieved 2018-07-19.
  13. ^ a b "factfish for Nigeria". Retrieved 2018-07-19.
  14. ^ a b "factfish Taro, production quantity for Nigeria". Retrieved 2018-07-19.
  16. ^ "factfish Taro, production quantity for Nigeria". Retrieved 2018-07-19.
  17. ^ "Oil Palm". Retrieved 12 May 2018.
  18. ^ "FAOSTAT". Retrieved 2018-07-19.
  19. ^ a b Blench, Roger (2006). Archaeology, language, and the African past. Altamira Press. ISBN 9780759104655.
  20. ^ "Food Import Bill". Archived from the original on 2015-12-19. Retrieved 2015-11-11.
  21. ^ Adesina, A. (2012, November 1). Agricultural Transformation Agenda: Repositioning agriculture to drive Nigeria’s economy. Retrieved from Archived 2016-03-04 at the Wayback Machine

External linksEdit