TIME SERIES ANALYSIS OF AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTION AND ECONOMIC GROWTH

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Nigeria as a tropical country with favorable climate has right condition for agricultural activities to thrive. Geographically, the country occupies a total area of 92.4 million hectares which includes 91.1 million hectares of land and 1.3 million hectares of water bodies. The agricultural area is 83.6 million hectares, which comprises arable land (33.8 percent), permanently cropped land (2.9 percent), forest or woods (13.0 percent), pasture (47.9 percent), and irrigated land (2.4 percent) (Adetunji, 2006)       . With 65 percent of the citizens living in the rural areas, agriculture is not just a source of food production but a source of livelihood.

Over 80 percent of the food needs of Nigerians are provided by the dominated smallholder farms in the country (Fayinka, 2004). This is reflected in the nature of agricultural products produced; food crops which does not need complicated processing such as Rice, Beans, Okra, Cassava etc. are usually cultivated. Agriculture as a sector in Nigerian economy also provides employment for her citizens. These ranges from the farmers that cultivate the crops, the distributors that transport them across the country and the individuals that engage in the business of retailing agricultural products. NBS (2006) identified agriculture as the single largest employer of labor among sectors (70 percent of labor force) and agricultural labor is the main and often times, the only asset for the farm households in the country (Agenoret al. 2003).

The nature of agricultural activities in Nigeria is in two broad areas; the peasant or subsistence  and commercial agriculture, each with its own distinct features and impact in national output. Peasant farming is the basic characteristics of agricultural practice in Nigeria. Peasant agriculture is also known as subsistence agriculture are usually undertaken to meet household needs. Thus they are produced in small scale with little or no surplus for sale. The target of the subsistence farmer is not to sell his output in the market but to meet his family needs. Peasant agriculture engages 95 percent of Nigerian farmers while farmers employed on corporate and government supported large-scale farms account for only 5 percent (Manyoung et al. 2005).

The scale of production in subsistence agriculture is not usually determined by the market forces but the need of the family. The family only produces the crops that it needs and in quantity sufficient for the household. Under this system, small plots of land are cultivated by individual owners or sub-owners following age-old methods without much control of the yields. Traditionally, the farm households use family labor complemented with hired labor for farming operations. However, recent development shows that there is a growing increase in the use of hired labor; labor exchanges are also increasing with other farmers at peak seasons. The rational for this is the increased awareness on the need for education which has driven children to schools and left the farms alone for parents.

 

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