Nigeria’s Agriculture Policy and Rising Food Prices

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The Problem Statement

Before the decade of the 1960s, the dominant role of agriculture in Nigeria’s economy was taken for granted.

With very little support from government, Nigerian agriculture was able to grow at a sufficient rate to provide adequate food for an increasing population, raw materials for a budding industrial sector, increasing public revenue and foreign exchange for government and employment opportunities for an expanding labour force.

The little support provided by government for agricultural development was concentrated on export crops like cocoa, groundnut, palm produce, rubber and cotton as self-sufficiency in food production seemed not to pose any problem worthy of public attention.

Indications of problems in the Nigerian agriculture, however, started to emerge as from the first decade of the country’s independence (1960 – 1969).

These indications were clearly evident from increasing food supply short-falls, rising food prices and declining foreign exchange earnings from agricultural exports.

However, not much rational concern was shown because the problems were thought to be the temporary effects of a series of crises which eventually culminated in the civil war (1967 – 1970).

The Policy Solution

In an effort to tackle these serious problems, government initiated a number of agricultural policies, programmes and projects, largely within the framework of three successive rational development plans from 1970 to 1974, from 1975 to 1980 and from 1981 to 1985.

Experience from these policies, programmes and projects have however, convinced the government and all those concerned with agricultural development efforts in Nigeria that there is no alternative to well-designed and articulate agricultural policies as instruments for promoting agricultural growth and development in Nigeria.

It is therefore, in realization of this fact that the government has adopted a comprehensive package of policy instruments to further develop and improve the performance of the country’s agricultural sector.

These policy instruments are expected to remain valid for about fifteen years that is up to year 2000 A.D.

The successful implementation and enforcement of the entire bod of agricultural policies of this country hinge crucially on the national, state and local institutions designed and established for agricultural development.

It will be their responsibility to ensure that government’s goals in agricultural development are fulfilled in line with set objectives and operational modalities.

Many policies were created for the agricultural sector both for the product and services aspect of the sector.

NIGAC Constructive Position/Take

For a policy to be meaningful, it must have definite beginning and a specific life-span within which stated objectives have to be achieved.

However, since action taken by government to influence economic activities are likely to be continuous beyond a given plan period, it is necessary that a futuristic approach is adopted.

In using a perspective plan as a mechanism of policy discipline, the following objectives will be achieved.

First, a perspective plan will enable government to link past policies with those of the present and the future in order to facilitate orderly transition or ensure smooth continuity.

Second, conflicts among the objectives of agricultural policy as well as conflicts between agricultural objectives and those of the overall economy will be more easily identified and resolved.

Third, a perspective plan will enable government to identity necessary modifications in programmes and projects.

Lastly, such a plan will help in identifying areas or issues requiring new approaches.

It is therefore, the intention of government to look far ahead and beyond the present economic conditions in order to ensure a stable and healthy investment environment for the economic and social development of the country.

It is be the responsibility of such plans to ensure that government’s goals in agricultural development are fulfilled in line with the set objectives and operational modalities.

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