Agriculture before the discovery of crude oil in the late 1950s was the main stay of the Nigerian economy. It was not just a source of revenue to the country, it was in fact a source of employment to many Nigerians who specialized in crop farming, fisheries, animal rearing but to mention a few. It was then that we developed the groundnut pyramids, rubber plantations, coco plantations and the big cotton fields that are gradually becoming histories today. With the discovery of the crude oil in 1956 and the commencement of full exploration in 1958 agriculture became of less importance to the government. As at of 1960 the contribution of agriculture to Nigeria’s GDP was 60% but the reduction of this value became consistent with the increase in oil exploration.
This was because crude oil sales became a faster way of earning more money by the Nigerian government. Little did the government notice the negative impact associated with crude oil especially with respect to agriculture. This continued until 1980s when the price of oil dropped in the international market leading to a drop in the contribution of crude oil to the Nigerian GDP.
Seeing the effect of the over dependence on crude oil the economy drove the subsequent leaders of Nigeria that came after General Gowon into initiating so many agricultural boosting policies. But a question that still remains unanswered is why are we still crying out “agriculture is the way out in the year 2016” ( over 50 years since the recognition of the relevance of agriculture) when a lot of funds have being invested in agriculture continually since the regime of General Yakubu Gowon?
General murtala Muhammed didn’t present any particular policy for agriculture but Gen Olusegun Obasanjo came up with “Operation Feed the Nation”, Shehu Shagari with the “Green Revolution” program, General IBB with “DIFRI (Directorate for Food Road and Infrastructure)”. Gen Sani Abacha and Abdulsalami Abubakar didn’t also present a clear policy but after them series of other policies have being instituted in the subsequent civilian governments costing huge sums of money yet we are unable to unequivocally say we are back to our original state of strength in agriculture. Agriculture was well recognized in (NEEDS II 2008-2011), the “7-point Agenda in of Yaradua, vision 2020 and a lot of other policies that have being instituted over the years.
This brings me to a clear conviction that going back to agriculture alone will not be able to solve the current Nigerian economic problem. There is need to compliment our desire for improved and efficient agriculture with a spontaneous technological development at all levels. Nobody is doubting the fact that agricultural advocates have overtime emphasized the need for mechanisationt. Also to some subtancial extent the government has being working towards that but how mechanised are we when compared to the other countries of the world that are topping the agricultural success stories. Most efforts geared towards mechanisation in this country have simply being revolving round a few fraction of the nigerian population. crude tools are still used for agricultural activities at the grassroot which constitute the majority of farmers yet we expect to produce enough to meet the global demand of the 20th century.
My point is obvious, not until we are able to develope our technology in such a away that it can permeate the nooks and crannies of the country’s population as crude tools permeated the population before the discovery of crude oil we may never be able to get our desired results from agriculture. This without doubts is simply because the output that will keep resulting from our crude and few mechanised agricultural activities will not be able to meet our local demands not to even talk of external exportation.
Considering all these information there is need for a massive technological development and advancement if Nigeria must ever meet up with world standard agricultural relevance.