Nigerian agriculture is characterised by considerable regional and crop
diversity. Analysis of this sector, particularly the food sub-sector, is
fraught with serious data problems. However, the available statistics
provide a broad overview of development in agriculture upon which we can
make some broad generalisations about its role in economic development
and structural change in Nigeria.
In the 1960s, the agricultural sector was the most important in terms of
contributions to domestic production, employment and foreign exchange
earnings. The situation remained almost the same three decades later with
the exception that it is no longer the principal foreign exchange earner, a
role now being played by oil.
The sector remained stagnant during the oil boom decade of the 1970s,
and this accounted largely for the declining share of its contributions. The
trend in the share of agriculture in the GDP shows a substantial variation
and long-term decline from 60% in the early 1960s through 48.8% in the
1970s and 22.2% in the 1980s. Unstable and often inappropriate economic
policies (of pricing, trade and exchange rate), the relative neglect of the
sector and the negative impact of oil boom were also important factors
responsible for the decline in its contributions.
On its diversity, Nigerian agriculture features tree and food crops, forestry,
livestock and fisheries. In 1993 at 1984 constant factor cost, crops (the
major source of food) accounted for about 30% of the Gross Domestic
Products (GDP), livestock about 5%, forestry and wildlife about 1.3% and
fisheries accounted 1.2%.
In most of the surveys and censuses conducted by the National Bureau of
Statistics (NBS), which is the major producer of agricultural statistics in
Nigeria, crops and livestock are always considered together because of the
tendency for most of the farmers to practise crops and livestock husbandry