40% of the African Gross National Product is obtained in Agriculture and 70% of all African labour is employed in this sector. Agriculture is a significant sector in the Nigerian economy, providing employment for 70% of the population. In 1960, before oil took the main position in the Nigerian economy, Nigeria was one of the most long-ranged agricultural producers in the entire world. In the period from 1962 to 1968, export crops were the major source of foreign exchange earnings in the country. Nigeria took the first place in the world for the export of palm oil, ahead of Malaysia and Indonesia, and also exported 47% of peanuts, supplying it to the US and Argentina. However, today, the status of Nigeria as an agricultural economy has dropped significantly.
Some of the problems include:
- Low use of fertilizer: The low level of fertilizer use is a strong obstacle to the progress of agricultural productivity in Nigeria. There is also the problem of high transportation costs, weak distribution infrastructure, lack of money for private sector participating in distribution of fertilizers etc.
- Low access to agricultural loans for farming in Nigeria: Access to agricultural credit has a positive impact on agricultural productivity. However, many small farmers in Nigeria do not have access to them.
- Limited access to the market: Expanding access to markets is likely to create demand for basic goods. High costs significantly limit the efficiency of agriculture.
- Impact of climate change: Climate change is severely affecting the agricultural sector, not only the sustainable development of socio-economic and agricultural activities but also the totality of human existence. Rain-fed farming dominates agricultural production in sub-Saharan Africa including Nigeria. Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) says that in some African countries including Nigeria, yield from rain-fed agriculture could be reduced up to 50% by the year 2020. This vulnerability has been demonstrated by the devastating effects of recent flooding in ravaging different part of the country and the various prolonged droughts that are currently witnessed in some parts of Northern region. Knowing that Agricultural production is the main source of livelihood for most rural communities in Nigeria.
Investing in Nigerian agriculture will create self-reliance, economic power and political independence.
CEDI is working to provide lasting and innovative solutions to the above mentioned problems by supporting farmers with micro loans so they can improve their farm inputs, training them in sustainable techniques to improve farm profitability as well as increase market access and improve storage facilities. CEDI is sensitizing farmers in vulnerable communities on the impact of climate change in the agricultural sector and also advocating for Climate Smart Agricultural (CSA) practices as a way of ameliorating the impact of climate change in the agricultural sector.