Article by Vasanth
Soil erosion caused by water and wind is one of the main problems of agriculture in Nigeria. The lack of development in low-lying flood plains also hinders the development of agriculture in Nigeria. In addition, the dependence on imported foods has disincentivized investment in local farming.
The problems of agriculture in Nigeria begin with the soil. Most of the farmable land in Nigeria contains soil that is low to medium in productivity. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), with proper management, the soil can achieve medium to good productivity.
The main problem that affects soil fertility is soil erosion. Wind erosion, in particular, is quite damaging. Overtime, strong winds expose seedlings and crop root systems by blowing away loose, fine grain soil particles. Another effect is the accumulation of soil particles in drifts, which can cover crops. Also, wind erosion changes the texture of the soil. The particles responsible for water retention and fertility, such as clay, silt, and organic matter are generally lost, leaving behind a sandy soil.
Wind erosion can be greatly reduced by planting trees near farming areas. The trees will absorb most of the wind, which will prevent the loss of soil particles.
Another type of erosion that affects fertility is water erosion. There are two types of water erosion: splash erosion and rill erosion. Splash erosion occurs when rain drops impact the soil, and rill erosion occurs when channels of water carry soil downstream.
Water erosion is reduced when the soil is covered with a canopy. Also, improving the soil structure by adding organic matter greatly reduces water erosion.
The low-lying flood plains are very fertile during the rainy season, but the lack of rain during the dry season hinders agricultural development. The lack of water management systems in these areas is a concern for many farmers. By adding irrigation canals and access roads to these areas, yearly production yields are expected to increase.
Food Processing Issues
It is estimated that about 20-40% of the yearly harvest is lost during processing. The primary cause is the lack of efficient harvesting techniques. Most farmers harvest crops by hand, instead of using machines. Also, storage methods are not generally up to standards. Most of the crops are lost to physical damage caused by insects, bacteria, or fungus.
Impact of Imported Food
Nigeria is a net importer of food. The country does not produce enough food to meet the demand of its people. This produces a lot of problems with regard to agricultural development. Generally, there is less incentive for local farmers to grow local foods, when cheaper, more palatable foods are imported. This forces local farmers to reduce prices, which reduces the income generated by the farm. The consequence is decreased farm production.
To combat the effects of imported food on development, several initiatives are suggested, including providing farmers with micro-credit that is subsidized and increasing tariffs on imported food.
Lack of Investment
The problems of agriculture in Nigeria are also caused by a lack of investment. The government budget for agriculture is not enough to meet the challenges. International aid groups have supplemented the funding of the government, but most of the funds don’t reach the local farmer.