Nigeria’s agricultural sector has been growing at a slow pace in the past four years on the back of worsening insecurity and other menaces plaguing the industry.
The sector has seen a decline in its fortunes, with the country’s escalating insecurity issues forcing many farmers to abandon their farmlands to flee for safety.
Growth in the sector slowed to 2.17 percent in 2020 from 2.36 in 2019. It dropped further to 2.13 percent in 2021 and 1.80 percent in 2022, data from National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) shows.
“Insecurity facing the crop component continues to be a major factor in the industry,” Muda Yusuf, chief executive officer of the Centre for Promotion of Private Enterprises, said in a response to questions.
“Many farmers cannot go to the farm and even when they do, they cannot transport their products from the farm for fear of being kidnapped,” Yusuf added.
Africa’s most populous country saw its agricultural growth contract to 0.90 percent in the first quarter of 2023 for the first time since the NBS started releasing the data.
The sector grew marginally to 1.50 percent in Q2 and slowed to 1.30 percent in Q3.
Analysts attributed the growth fluctuations in the industry to not just insecurity, which is a major factor, but other shocks the food system is also battling with.
Yusuf said the government needs to provide sufficient support for the industry.
He called for the subsidisation of farming equipment for farmers, noting that technology is essential in driving growth for the sector and making it attractive for youths.
“Productivity has not been doing well because the agricultural population is ageing. Young people do not want to venture into agriculture,” Yusuf said. “Lack of the use of technology is making agriculture less attractive to young people.”
Edobong Akpabio, a former head of agribusiness at Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said the country has lost 60 percent of its food production in key producing states owing to rising insecurity.
“A lot of farmers do not cultivate in places where they usually grow crops because of the high rate of insecurity,” she said. “Insecurity must become a thing of the past before Nigeria can curtail the recent surge in food prices.”
The situation has also continued to deter new agricultural investments in key crop-growing states while putting existing agribusinesses in constant peril.
Data from the NBS shows the capital imported into agriculture has maintained a consistent decline since 2019, hitting its lowest in nine years in the third quarter of 2023.
Foreign investment into the sector declined 95 percent to $4.64 million in the third quarter of 2023 from $95.10 million in the same period of 2015.