Why Nigerian farmers’ earn little

At the outskirts of Ajokete village in Iseyin Local Government Area of Oyo State is four hectares of land belonging to Temidayo Adegoke, a 62 years old farmer who farms maize, vegetables and cassava.

Despite being a farmer for over 10years, Adegoke is still unable to improve his livelihood and does not want any of his seven children to be a farmer.

“For many years I have worked so hard on my farm and yet I have very little to show for the hard work,” he told BusinessDay.

This is because he has recorded a particular yield per hectare over these periods, as he is unable to find the right hybrid seeds and seedlings for cultivation.

In the past, he has purchased several seeds labelled as hybrid from the market only to later discover that they are adulterated or fake.

This forced Adegoke to result to replanting the grains harvested from his farm for maize and vegetable production as well as stems for cassava.

As a result, he has maintained 1.2MT tons per hectare for maize and 2MTtons per hectare for cassava, when his peers in other African countries are growing between 3MT and 6MT per hectare.

The situation has made Adegoke income remains’ perpetually low with it having a negative impact on his livelihood.

Data from the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) shows that Nigeria records the least yield per hectare among its peers. For tomatoes, the average yield per hectare in Nigeria is 7 metric tons (MT), Kenya’s average yield for the crop is 20MT, Ghana tomato yield is 8MT and South Africa’s average yield for the crop is 76MT.

Similarly, for maize – which is the most consumed grain on the continent, Nigeria’s yield per hectare is 1.6 on the average despite being the second largest grower of the crop while Kenya and Ghana have same average yield of 2MT per hectare and South Africa’s average yield is 6MT per hectare.

For potatoes, which is the best rounded and nutrient root in all of Africa, Nigeria’s yield per hectare for the crop is 3.7MT, Kenya average is 15.5MT and South Africa average yield for the crop is 38.8MT.

Nigeria’s average yield per hectare for rice paddy which is the most consumed staple in the country is 4MT.

Despite the Nigerian economy growing by 3.11 percent year-on-year in real terms in the first quarter of 2022, 105 million Nigerians still live in extreme poverty, according to data from the World Poverty Clock of the Brookings Institute.

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This figure has been projected to increase by an additional 7 million the World Bank has said would be pushed into poverty by Nigeria’s accelerating inflation by the end of 2022.

A 2010 data from the World Bank collection of development indicator states that rural communities account for 52.8 percent of poverty rate in Nigeria.

Smallholder farmers accounts for the larger population in rural communities and have remained poor despite the enormous potential in the agricultural sector.

Their limited access to improve seeds and seedlings have made Nigeria’s farm yield and income from farming activities remain perpetually low, thus, leading to high production cost and making the sector unattractive to the younger population.

In addition, farmers failure to adopt good agronomy practices has also made yields per hectare for various crops to remain low.

Owing to the low crop yields, Nigeria now records huge demand-supply gaps in most of its staple foods, even as the population growth rate stands at 2.6 percent per annum and projected to surpass the 300 million people mark by 2050, according to The World Population Prospects 2017.

Apart from low yields, infrastructural deficit across the country is also a challenge to farmers’ income, as it has continued to erode their profit and impact their capacity to expand production negatively.

Half of the fruits and vegetables grown in Nigeria often get riot on farms before they get to the markets owing to inadequate storage facilities and huge road deficits, experts say.

Also, high logistics cost has limited farmers to easily access markets with their produce while reducing their profits.

Experts say that the country can only tackle its poverty issue when the incomes of smallholder farmers who account for 65percent of the rural population are improved.

They say that the government must create the enabling environment for growth in the sector and for it to attract seed investors that does not just export put develop and breed their seeds here.

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