More than a decade ago while in high school, I used to ask myself what crop production was? This is not because of my curiosity but my zeal to uncover many pseudo element of farming that I did not know despite being taught by my teachers. But then, after some years, I begin to think straight in such a way that I question my maker knowingly human population grows at arithmetic progression than being geometric. Our population grows every day, yet human capacity to feed them has never stop famine and food shortage every years. Why? I will tell you some other day but let us limit ourselves to this to crop production alone for now.
Crop Production – is the process of farming or producing crops. It is an important aspect of agriculture and is probably the most practiced area of agriculture. As the population increased, the food supply was not always sufficiently stable or plentiful to supply man’s needs. This probably led to the practice of crop production. Crop production began at least nine thousand (9000) years ago when domestication of plants became essential to supplement natural supplies in certain localities. The art of crop production is older than civilization, and its essential features have remained almost unchanged since the dawn of history.
Crop production is an intricate enterprise that requires vast knowledge about the agronomy, environmental interactions, and the application of available technology to achieve food production. Which is one of the cogent reasons farming in Nigeria needs to revamp food production synergies. Crop farming and production in Nigeria has come a very long way, back to the era of our forefathers to our present era.
Though agriculture in Nigeria; which is a part or branch of the economy sectors in Nigeria has most times been ignored; the oil and gas sector has taken the major interest of both the young and the old with few or less interest place on the agricultural sector. Even some youth who are aware of how important crop farming and production is in Nigeria, see agriculture as a job only meant for the old. While some farmers who are into agriculture are producing crops for the sole consumption of themselves and their family without considering it as a business which could grow bigger to feed a country and even exporting to other countries. (Source: www.fas.usda.gov).
ECONOMIC CLASSIFICATION OF CROPS
Cereal or Grain crops: Cereals are grasses grown for their edible seeds, the term cereal being applied either to the grain or to the plant itself. Cereals include wheat, oats, barley, rice, maize, sorghum, millets, etc.
Root and tuber crops: These include sugar beets, carrots, sweet potatoes, yams, cassava, potatoes, and cocoyam.
Legumes: These include groundnuts, cowpeas, soybeans, lima beans, and pigeon peas. They all belong to the family Leguminosae and are grown for their edible seeds.
Oil crops: The oil crops include soybean, peanuts (groundnuts), sunflower, safflower, sesame, castor bean, mustard, cottonseed, corn and grain sorghum, and flax.
Vegetable crops: This group includes potatoes, tomatoes, and onions.
Fiber crops: These are grown for their fiber. They include cotton, jute, kenaf, hemp, ramie, and sisal.
Sugar crops: These are crops that are grown for their sweet juice from which sucrose is extracted and crystallized. They include sugarcane and sugar beet.
Forage crops: These are vegetable matters fresh or preserved that are utilized as feeds for animals. They include grasses, legumes, crucifers, and other cultivated crops.
Rubber crops/latex crops: These crops which include Para rubber are grown for the milky sap or latex which they produce.
Beverage crops: These crops are also sources of stimulants. They include tea, coffee, and cocoa.
Our dear nation has been bereaved of many good things on farming because of massive rural-urban migration. This is because there is absence of many basic social amenities such as good roads that can link rural communities to the cities where they can sell their farm produce, stable electricity, solar energy, portable water and standard schools in the rural areas. And these are the more reason why a few people who had seriously invested in agriculture are massively booming in it. We should know that agriculture has contributed so much to the Nigerian GDP back from the year 2001 till present. Below is a little table description on Nigeria GDP from agriculture from the year 2014 and 2016;
Years Nigeria GDP
2014 Below 3500000
2015 Below 5000000
So you see agriculture in Nigeria has been growing gradually and contributing highly to the GDP of Nigeria. GDP from Agriculture in Nigeria increased to 5035069.07 NGN Million in the third quarter of 2016 from 3635533.14 NGN Million in the second quarter of 2016.
Positive impact of Crop farming and production in Nigeria economy
Massive Provision of food: of course, we all know this one; this is the major purpose of agriculture; to feed the nation. Nigeria has a popular population of about 170 million people and above (it still increases yearly by 2.8%); no matter the number of people that invest in agriculture, there will still be an available space for more investors or farmers.
Increase in GDP: Like I previously said, agriculture has contributed highly to the GDP of our economy. And apart from crop farming and production in Nigeria, agriculture in Nigeria also entails, animal rearing and husbandry, production and selling of farm chemicals and fertilizers. And we can say that all this has backed up and pushed up the economy GDP and also enlarge the size of the domestic market for the manufacturing sector.
Provision of employment: agriculture as a whole agriculture has as created an employment opportunity for some people. Most individual who are a graduate of the university with good grades has turned to agriculture as a means of income since there is no job available. And it also increases the supply of domestic savings.
Importation of crops; marketing of your crops should not only be limited in Nigeria; agriculture has created a mutual relationship with Nigeria and other neighboring countries even extending to Europe by this; providing foreign exchange earned by the agricultural exports.
Making Nigeria a producing state: it’s inspiring if Nigeria is seen international as a producing State instead of a depending state which depends on other countries to feed her citizen.
Key factors that could affect Crop farming and production in Nigeria
Aside from the ignorant of how lucrative Crop farming and production in Nigeria can be, another major issues which had made a lot of people who have interest in agriculture to hesitate are –
Unavailability of lands for crops production: a situation whereby farmer lacks lands for planting their crops.
Low or no capital; most farmers, who are interested also faces the challenges of having low or no capital to start up their farming business.
No access to modern tools: some farmers are still making use of local and unhealthy tools for farming. They produce low crops because of less or no availability of modern tools.
Little or no support from government: The government has also contributed to the low involvement of agriculture in Nigeria. There have been many situations whereby farmers have called out to the government to assist them in various issues they have had an encounter with like flood, erosions etc. but all this pleads lands on deaf ears.
Not well informed on new agricultural issues: when farmer are not well informed and educated on modern techniques and practices on agriculture, there will be low produces and spread of crops diseases.
Finding it difficult to a get loan: Most times, the government and some Micro-Finance banks might promise to give farmers loan. Some of them will keep their promises while others will not. Some will even have a long, afflictive protocol which will put off the farmer interest in investing in agriculture.
Inadequate infrastructures: when infrastructures like water, good transportation, electricity are not available, it also affects farmers.
Nigeria is a country blessed with rich soil and hardworking people who are ready to toil the land to make a living but the cabals have hijacked the economy thereby making investment in agriculture a mirage for some upcoming small scale and a few middle scale farmers in realizing investment returns on farming. But when you have an interest in Crop farming and production in Nigeria, do not allow any factors to pull you down. Therefore, if we are to combat poverty and malnutrition in Nigeria, every household must embrace farming. Remember Operation Feed the Nation that was introduced in 1979 by Olusegun Obasanjo then. It awakens the spirit of farming in Nigerians through subsistence agrarians methodology.
As youth or old people, you have to start from somewhere because the truth is that agriculture is a high investment which can boom with little investment. And as time goes on, you support yourself single-handedly with looking for support from government or so.
Alaba Damilare Samuel – Freelance Content Writer, Communications Strategist, Documentary Photographer, Social Media Manager, Administrator.