By: Dotun Ogunleye
Agriculture has been defined in many ways with most focusing on the cultivation of soil and rearing of animals. For the purpose of our discussion both now and in the future, I will adopt the following definitions:
– The science of cultivating the soil, harvesting of crops, and raising of livestock and also as the science or art of the production of plants and animals useful to man and in varying degrees the preparation of such products for man use and their disposal.
– The art and science of cultivating the soil, growing crops and raising livestock. It includes the preparation of plant and animal products for people to use and their distribution to markets.
The reason for using these definitions is because they covered not only the production but included the processing and distribution of the products.
My point is agriculture is all encompassing.
The topic was a friend’s response during a discussion precisely January, 2012. It is so surprising that mostly urban dwellers have forgotten the large contribution of agriculture to our existence as the sole source of our basic needs (food, shelter and clothing). Human communities, regardless of the level of sophistication, will not undermine the importance of agriculture and risk starvation.
I will quickly outline some importance of agriculture to both developing and developed economies to preparation our minds for what is about taking place in Nigeria. In months to come we will touch agricultural enterprises and value chains to help us determine where can fit in.
IMPORTANCE OF AGRICULTURE
– Employment opportunities: vast employment opportunities are created in this sector, aside from the fact that agricultural enterprises involve a chain of activities; from the farmer rearing cattle to the mallam selling barbecue meat on the street. Other professions have link to agriculture e.g. drainage, road and irrigation construction.
– Contribution to National income: Agriculture is the main source of national revenue for developing economies. The Gross Domestic Products (GDP), dropped from about 60% in the 1960s
– Sources of raw material: Agriculture has been the source of raw materials to leading industries. Textile industries, Pharmaceutical industries, Food processors to mention a few depend on agriculture for their raw materials.
– Foreign Exchange Resources: In the 1960s, export crops were the Nigeria’s foreign exchange earners. The country was one of the largest exporters of palm oil, cocoa, groundnut etc. Our major earner now is the crude oil with a falling price in the international market thus a decline in foreign exchange earnings; therefore a return to the field is important.
– Food security: Nigeria transitioned from self sufficiency in food production in the 1960s to a major importer of food like rice, fish, tomatoes etc. This has brought hardship on the growing masses.
– Saving: I will give a practical example. My daughter got monetary gift totalling #50,000 in late 2012. Early 2013, we decided to buy her an in-gilt (a pregnant young pig) and today we’ve harvested 2 sets of litters and we still have the initial stock and some weaners in her name.
Looking at the above importance stated, agricultural development is a potential solution to the problems (poverty, unemployment, insecurity etc) plaguing the country now.
Having answered the question, we will move on to various enterprises in agriculture and enlightenment in subsequent edition.
Stay logged on.