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Problems of Agricultural Development

Agricultural development in Nigeria has been hindered by several problems which are discussed in details as follows:

(i) Land tenure:
The low agricultural production in the country has, nevertheless, been constrained by the problem of land availability. Based on the associated problem prevailing in the country, agricultural production has been relatively low, owing to land fragmentation which does not favour commercial investors to go into agricultural production. Thus, acquisition of land is largely based on communal and inheritance systems, in which peasant farmers have parcels of land allotted to them on the basis of their being members of the community, or ancestral lineage. Hence, people outside the communal background are not considered, not withstanding their plans towards commercial agricultural production. This has been greatly responsible for the low agricultural production in the country, with the resultant poor outputs from the peasant farmers who are generally involved in subsistence farming. Land availability is one of the major factors which had forced farmers into subsistence agriculture and thereby, impeded the development of agriculture in Nigeria.

(ii) Capital:
The pace of agricultural development in the country has been drastically slow.due to the problem of capital acquisition by farmers towards agricultural production. Though the bulk of agricultural production is being carried out in the remote areas by farmers, their inaccessibility to loans, owing to their inability to tender collateral security to the banks as safeguard for the loan acquired, which is a repayable amount, has invariably hampered the rapid agricultural development in Nigeria. In the same vein, subsidy which is assistance given to farmers by government to boost agricultural production for example, a reduction in the price of farm inputs, is drastically inadequate to farmers. This is due to the hurdles which the peasants farmers usually face in their bid to derive these benefits, through the accessibility to loan and subsidy, from the agents vested with the responsibility of issuance to farmers.

(iii) Poor storage facilities:
Agricultural wastage after the harvesting of produce from the farmers’ fields, is due to poor storage facilities, and this has, as a matter of fact, affected agricultural development in Nigeria. In the course of this problem posed by poor storage facilities, high prices of agricultural products, due to shortage of farm products, have become a frequent occurrence and this has been the major factor responsible for the low agricultural production in the country. Also, harvested produce are not properly stored, due to the use of poor storage facilities. The resultant effect of this is that a larger proportion of the harvested produce become prone to spoilage, with loss of income to the farmers. Peasant farmers are often unable to afford the huge sum of building a modern storage system equipped.with all the necessary farm equipment for storage and processing of agricultural produce in the farm, hence, wastage of agricultural products during harvesting period actually poses a lot of problems.

(iv) Poor adoption of innovation:
The rate of agricultural development in Nigeria greatly depends on the readiness of farmers to adopt viable research results, which could help to improve their level of awareness and skill in the use of ideas, to increase their individual outputs. Inspite of the government’s effort towards the education of the farmers through agricultural extension services on how to utilise agricultural research results through demonstrations, rural farmers still decline to adopt the application of modern innovative ideas, based on their customs and traditions. This has greatly affected the rate of agricultural development in Nigeria. Agricultural programmes are meant to promote practical application of useful agricultural information.

(v) Poor implementation of agricultural policies:
It is a well-known fact that the bulk of agricultural production is normally carried out in rural communities in Nigeria. However, the government had usually envisaged the need to encourage the rural communities through formulation of policies, in a bid to boost the rate of agricultural development in the country. However lofty the initiative may be, most agricultural policies do not get to rural communities that are meant to be the beneficiaries because of poor implementation. So, far, most government’s agricultural programmes of the past, including Operation Feed the Nation, Agricultural Development project, Green Revolution, Agricultural Insurance Scheme, and Farm Settlement Scheme established to boost agricultural development, have all yielded poor results in the country because of poor implementation of policies on agriculture.

(vi) Poor transportation network:
The pace of agricultural development in Nigeria has been reduced, due to poor transportation network. It is common knowledge that rural communities from which the bulk of agricultural activities are carried out, are found in the interior hinterlands. Hence, to effect the distribution of agricultural produce in great demands, the poor condition of roads in the urban centres, which had invariably, resulted in the high cost of transportation of farm produce in the country, must be tackled. This had the same effect on the consumption of the non-agricultural population in the urban centres in Nigeria.

(vii) Poor irrigation system:
The rate of agricultural development in the country has been greatly affected by poor irrigation system practised by local farmers in Nigeria. There has been relatively poor irrigation system amongst peasant farmers, owing to the huge cost involved in the construction of modern irrigation facilities in farms. Based on this, most farmers are hampered from the continual production of agricultural crops when there is no rain to grow crops, and this leads to the problems of the crops not being available, or getting very costly during the dry season.

(viii) Climatic and edaphic factors:
The rate of agricultural development in the country is affected by climatic and edaphic factors. Climatic factors include rainfall, relative humidity, wind, temperature and sunlight. Rainfall is the most important factor that limits agricultural production in Nigeria. The amount of rainfall in a given area determines the extent of agricultural production, and affects the distribution of agricultural crops cultivated in the different ecological zones of Nigeria. Humidity, which is the moisture content in the atmosphere, also poses a major problem of grains storage in the rain forest zone of Nigeria, owing to the high amount of rain associated with the zone.

Sunlight also affects the growth of agricultural crops. Plants may be day neutral, short day or long day plants. Agricultural crops are photo periodic depending on the degree of solar radiation needed by the crops for maximum yields. Edifice factors are soil factors, these include soil pH, soil texture, soil porosity, soil structure, soil consistence, soil plasticity, soil type, soil profile and topography. A soil with pH 2 is described as highly acidic while that with pH 9 is said to be moderately alkaline. Agricultural crops are usually adaptable to specific soil pH for their optimum yields.