After the unification of the Southern and Northern protectorates in 1914, Nigeria was able to emerge on the map as a single nation-state for the first time. This consolidation resulted in the establishment of the British method of government. Prior to the establishment of colonial administration in1914, the various areas of Nigeria had their own economies that were capable of self-generation and self-sufficiency. In order to better serve the interests of the colonial masters, the British system of government in Nigeria led to a shift in the focus of Nigerian farmers away from the production of food crops and toward the production of cash crops. This had the effect of worsening the food situation in the country. This pattern persisted in Nigeria all the way up until the country’s independence in 1960 and even after that (Hussainatu, 2008). Following the country’s attainment of its independence in1960, the Nigerian economy was subjected to numerous regimes of military administration as well as civilian rule, the culmination of which was the establishment of the current, fourth republic in 1999. The export of crude oil is the primary source of money for the Nigerian government, and the country’s economy might be described as being partly dominated by a single industry (monoculture). Because of this, the agricultural industry requires a different level of care than it previously did. It is generally acknowledged that Nigeria’s agricultural industry is a major contributor to the expansion of the country’s economy as a whole (Ogen, 2003). In spite of this scenario, the sector continues to be characterized by low yields, crude equipment, and limited areas under cultivation as a result of government neglect as a result of dependency on a mono-cultural economy dependent on oil (Izuchukwu, 2011).
The term “agricultural production” refers to the output that the agricultural sector of a certain economy generates after applying a certain quantity of “input(s)” to that sector (Fulginiti and Perrin, 1998). To give it a more official definition, it is the quantity of produce that is generated as a result of all agricultural operations in an economy during the course of one year. The first decade after Nigeria’s independence was characterized by a period in which the country’s economy was largely agricultural. This was due to the fact that agriculture was the primary driver of economic expansion at this time (Ogen, 2003). Agriculture was the leading sector in terms of occupational distribution and contribution to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Agriculture contributed approximately 70 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), employed approximately the same percentage of the working population, and accounted for approximately 90 percent of both foreign earnings and revenue collected by the Federal Government. During this time, Nigeria held the position of being the world’s largest exporter and producer of palm products, as well as the second largest producer of cocoa. Additionally, Nigeria was a significant exporter of main commodities such as cotton, groundnuts, rubber, hides and skins, amongst others (Alkali, 1997).
When taking into consideration the agricultural sector’s building roles for sustainable development, in terms of job potentials, exports, and financial implications on the economy, the contribution of the agricultural sector to the economy cannot be overemphasized. Agriculture is an important part of the Nigerian economy for a number of reasons. Not only does it lay a solid foundation for the economy, but it also serves as an import substituting sector, providing ready markets for raw materials and intermediate goods. This is in addition to the fact that agriculture lays a solid foundation for the economy. The agricultural sector makes a significant contribution to the growth of the nation’s economy in a number of ways: it raises the amount of money the government receives from taxes, it raises the standard of living, it contributes to the gross national product (GNP), it creates jobs, it helps people become more skilled, and it plays a key role in the development of manpower. Additionally, it plays a key role in the development of manpower because it is the primary source of food for people, animals, and the (Okoro, 2011).
Growth and poverty reduction are two of the most important topics that have been discussed in the development literature and thought throughout the past decade, and both of these topics have gained more attention during this time period. The new endogenous growth theory has brought to light the importance of a number of factors that are conducive to faster economic growth. These factors include human capital, infrastructure, sound monetary and fiscal policies, democracy and political stability, trade openness, and corruption, amongst others. Additionally, a significant amount of effort has been put into investigating the relationships between growth and inequality as well as poverty. This essentially macroeconomic approach to growth has placed considerably less focus on sectoral dimensions of growth and poverty reduction. This has resulted in less overall growth and more overall poverty. The absence of a sectoral emphasis, on the other hand, provides nothing in the way of concrete guidance to policymakers who are tasked with making judgments regarding the distribution of public resources as well as the sources of funding to support public expenditures. The most recent World Bank Development Report, titled “Attacking Poverty,” is notable for the very limited discussion of sectoral objectives in decreasing poverty and increasing growth. These three themes are opportunity, economic empowerment, and security. Agriculture’s relevance to the fight against poverty extends far beyond its direct influence on the incomes of farmers. Agriculture is the engine that drives the economy and offers the most promise for improving food security in Nigeria, Africa, and the rest of the globe. Millions of people have profited from agricultural growth in the form of increased income, increased availability of food at lower costs, and the generation of patterns of development that are employment-intensive and which benefit both rural and urban areas. More importantly, it has made a contribution to the economy even outside of agriculture, where growth and job creation are occurring at a faster rate, and it has caused pay levels to rise. The agricultural sector acts as a catalyst that accelerates the pace of structural transformation and diversification of the economy in the modern world. This enables countries to fully utilize their factor endowment and become less dependent on the supply of agricultural products or raw materials from other countries for their economic growth, development, and sustainability. Agriculture has the ability to serve as the economic and industrial launchpad from which a nation’s development might take off, making it an essential sector of any nation. With its reservoir of human and natural resources, Nigeria has the potentials to establish a flourishing economy and cater for the fundamental needs of the population. Nigeria is richly endowed with numerous natural resources. This enormous resource base, if it were properly managed, could provide support for a thriving agricultural sector that would be able to guarantee the supply of raw materials for the industrial sector, as well as provide gainful employment for the country’s teeming population and, as a result, reduce the level of poverty in the country (Ukeji 2002).