Nigeria’s agricultural growth slowed to 1.3 percent in the third quarter of 2023 on declining farmers’ productivity.
On a year-on-year basis, data from the National Bureau of Statistics show that growth in the sector slowed by 0.04 in the third quarter from 1.34 percent recorded in the corresponding period of 2022.
The sector’s growth also slowed by 0.20 percent quarter on quarter basis from 1.50 percent in Q2.
The data also revealed that the sector’s contribution to GDP shrunk in Q3 2023 to 29.31 percent, lower than its 29.67 percent contribution in the corresponding period of 2022.
Abiodun Olorundero, managing partner at Prasino Farms, highlighted that the decline in Nigeria’s agricultural growth is predominantly due to reduced production levels caused by inflation and increased production costs.
“I can tell you categorically that the production levels have gone down, because the prices of inputs, cost of production have gone up; inflation too.”
AFEX in its 2023 wet season crop production report revealed that a decrease in production levels has seen the prices of most staple foods consumed in Nigeria, including rice, maize, soya bean, and sorghum among others, surge, with expectations that they will surge even higher.
Olorundero emphasised that the rising costs of inputs such as fuel prices, and logistics have significantly impacted production, leading to increased prices of food items.
He further expressed concern about the future, stating, “It may continue in the next quarter because people who are even trying to use irrigation facilities to grow their crops are buying petrol, diesel whose prices have shot up by over 50 percent.”
Jude Obi, president of the Association of Organic Agriculture Practitioners of Nigeria, also highlighted that production levels have declined and will continue to decline in fact.
“Production is completely low and it will continue to decline because many people are leaving the country; people are discouraged.”
Highlighting the significance of smallholder farmers, Obi explained, “Most of our agricultural products come from smallholders, and these smallholders will have to feed themselves.”
He also highlighted the challenges faced by large-scale producers, stating, “Large-scale producers for crops like rice use heavy-duty machinery. They can’t afford the price of fossil fuels or all the money required for production. And how much will they gain after?” “Their production will decline.”
The Association president also mentioned that the application of synthetic fertilisers to soil greatly impacts yield, in that it causes it to decline.
“Technically, production is declining, and output from production is not increasing. So even the people that are patient to produce because they don’t have an option, are not getting commensurate yield,” he said.
The NBS said that in terms of share of the GDP, agriculture, and the industry sectors contributed less to the aggregate GDP in the third quarter of 2023 compared to the third quarter of 2022.
The agricultural sector comprises four sub-sectors: Crop Production, Livestock, Forestry, and Fishing. “Crop Production remained the major driver of the sector. This is evident as it accounts for 92.24 percent of the overall nominal value of the sector in the third quarter of 2023,” said NBS.
Crop production, which is also the largest contributor to Nigeria’s GDP in real terms, grew by just 1.35 percent compared to 1.82 percent in Q2 2023.