Impact Of Selected Agricultural Policies And Intervention Programs In Nigeria – 1960 Till Date

Christian LovePartner, Livingstone Attorneys

The study reviews several agricultural policies and programmes that were initiated in Nigeria vis a vis the development of the agricultural sector in the nation. It examines the impact of intervention programmes like the Operation Feed the Nation, Green Revolution and Agricultural Development Projects. The paper concludes by identifying gaps in the inventions, execution and management of the programmes. Solutions/recommendations were then proffered based on these gaps as lessons/guide for future policies and programmes inventions.


Agriculture as an indigenous occupation in Nigeria has gone through various phases of development. This development is an effect of government policies and state approach to agriculture which either demeans or heightens the impact of the Sector in the nation. According to the Central Bank of Nigeria in 2016, the sector in the 1960’s contributed 85% of the Nigeria foreign exchange earnings, 90% employment generation, and about 80% to gross domestic product.  Available data also confirms that at independence in 1960, the contribution of agriculture to the GDP was about 60%, which is typical for developing agrarian nations.

This development prompted government to initiate several agricultural policies/projects and programs to enhance agricultural productivity in Nigeria. A policy is a deliberate plan of action to guide decisions and achieve rational outcomes. Policies prescribe how people in an organization should act or behave. Agricultural policy is a statement of action and a fundamental tool  employed  in  achieving  agricultural  development.  A programme,  on  the  other  hand  is  a comprehensive plan that includes objectives to be attained, specifications of resources required and stages of work to be performed. Elaborate plans are oftentimes regarded as programmes ad are collections of coordinated activities that are mutually directed towards the attainment of a definite goal.

It is generally accepted that Nigerian agriculture Clearly,  the  persisted failures  of most agricultural  programmes  in  Nigeria  have  revealed  the  basic  weakness  of  agricultural  policies  in Nigeria and the inability of the several administrations in Nigeria to solve the basic and fundamental problems of agricultural development.

In Nigeria  agricultural  policies  and  programmes have  undergone changes  especially  in  the  postcolonial  era. These changes have been a mere reflection of changes in government or administration. This is because these policies and programmes vary only in nomenclature and organizational network. They emphasize almost same objectives like: to provide food for the inhabitants of the nation (food security and sufficiency) and export excess to other countries and to provide rural dwellers and farmers with extension services, agricultural support and rural development services. Notwithstanding all the policies and laudable programmes with challenging themes, Nigeria is yet to achieve food security. Some policies and programmes were positively impactful while some made no difference. Notwithstanding the plethora of policies, agriculture continues to suffer from inertia associated with these policies and programme reformation that pervade Nigeria. It is against these aforementioned facts that the study  sought  to critique agricultural policies and programmes in Nigeria.

Colonial Era

The  potential  of  agriculture  for  propelling  Nigeria’s  economic  development  was  recognized  by  the  colonial government when policies were put in place to encourage output growth and to extract the surpluses therefrom. The predominant theme of development in this period was the surplus extraction philosophy or policy whereby immense products were generated from the rural areas to satisfy the demand for raw materials in metropolitan Britain. This early interest of the extraction policy was on forest resources and agricultural exports like cocoa, coffee, rubber, groundnut, oil palm etc.  

The establishment of the Department of Botanical Research in 1893 in the former Western Nigeria is the first notable activity of the era. The Department was saddled with the responsibility of conducting research in Agriculture.

In 1905, the British Cotton Growers Association acquired 10.35 square kilometers of land at the site now called Moor Plantation, Ibadan for growing cotton to feed the British Textile Mills. In 1910, Moor Plantation, Ibadan became the headquarters of the Department of Agriculture in Southern Nigeria, and a Department of Agriculture was established in the North in 1912. In 1921, a unified Department of Agriculture was formed in Nigeria, after the amalgamation of the North and the South. The major policy of the Central Department of Agriculture was to increase production of export crops for the British market which was ready to absorb it for its industrial growth. Extension activities were therefore directed towards increasing efficiency in crop production and marketing. Regulations were made to set and enforce standards in export crop production. The colonial period also witnessed the establishment of the Niger Agricultural Project in 1949 with the aims of producing groundnut for export and guinea-corn for local consumption. It was also meant to relieve world food shortage, demonstrate better farming techniques and increase productivity of Nigeria’s agriculture. The project was sited near Mokwa (Niger state) at an area which was suitable for mechanized food crop production.

Under the colonial government, livestock which were predominantly nomadic got a fair share of development with interest directed at the health and hygiene of the domesticated cattle. In 1924, the Nigerian Veterinary Department was established in 194 with its headquarters at Zaria with a small veterinary laboratory established in Vom for the production of rinderpest serum. A fisheries organization was established in 1941 as a Fisheries Development Branch of the Agricultural Department of the Colonial Office and a Senior Agricultural Officer was appointed to conduct a survey of the industry and its possibilities. These deliberate efforts at developing the country were made during the Second World War because of the naval blockade of the high seas. The headquarters was sited at Apese village and later at Onikan in Lagos, from where, assisted by a part-time voluntary officer, preliminary experiments in fish culture in brackish water ponds at Onikan were carried out and surveys were conducted on the canoe fisheries of Apese village and Kuramo waters around Victoria Island, Lagos.

Documented policies of the colonial era include the Forest Policy (1937), Forest Policy (1945), Agricultural Policy (1946), Policy for the Marketing of Oils, Oil Seeds and Cotton (1948), Forest Policy for Western Region (1952), Agricultural Policy (1952), Policy for Natural Resources (undated) and Western Nigeria Policy of Agricultural and Natural Resources (1959). More than half of policies in the era focused on forest matters while less emphasis was made on food and animal production. Most of these policies were made without proper institutional arrangement, programmes, specific projects, strategies, goals or targets and specific objectives geared towards realization of the dreams of the policies. This can be proved by the fact that there was only one documented agricultural scheme that evolved towards the end of the era (early 1960s) termed the Farm Settlement Scheme. 


The Post –colonial era focused on a more equitable growth in agriculture and policies to enhance this were implemented particularly in the pursuit of an export-led growth. There was a demarcation of the country into the Western Region (cocoa), Northern Region (groundnut) and Eastern Region (oil palm).

The 1962-1968 development plans was Nigeria’s first national plan. Among several objectives, it emphasized the introduction of more modern agricultural methods through farm settlements, co-operative (nucleus) plantations, supply of improved farm implements (e.g. hydraulic hand presses for oil palm processing) and a greatly expanded agricultural extension service.

The first half of the 1960’s thus witnessed the era of the groundnut pyramids of the North, the palm-oil of the east, and the cocoa plantation of South-West Nigeria. It should be noted that the Nigeria’s agriculture sector successes were achieved after independence mainly because of the legacies of British colonial rule. The administrative system coordinated by the Governor-General used an export driven policy system to produce raw materials for the export market in servicing British industries and European markets. Thus, mechanized agriculture was practiced for the aim of maintaining European interest, the Commonwealth, and British interest. During the years toward the end of the first decade after independence, it became clear that Nigeria’s government could not manage or cope with the Westminster bureaucratic structure bequeathed to it due to the absence and malfunction of necessary institutions. In addition, the civil war which began in July 1967 furthered a geometric decline in the problems of agricultural development in Nigeria.

The early 1960s have also witnessed the establishment of several agricultural research institutes and their extension research liaison services. Some of the major institutions are:

Agricultural Extension and Research Liaison Service (AERLS) at the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria established in 1963

The International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) established in 1967

International Livestock Centre for Africa (ILCA).

Some specialized development schemes initiated or implemented during this period included:

Farm Settlement Scheme (FSS)

This was initiated by some regional governments in Nigeria and was a critical element of Western Nigeria Policy of Agricultural and Natural Resources of 1959. The main objective of this scheme was to settle young school leavers in a specified area of land, making farming their career thereby preventing them from moving to the urban areas in search of white collar jobs. These settled farmers were also to serve as models in good farming systems for farmers residing in nearby villages to emulate. The programme initiated in old western Region; aimed at solving unemployment among primary school leavers.  Policy instruments used include agricultural extension cooperative societies, credit facilities.

A major challenge of the scheme was that some of the settlers were too young and inexperienced in farming thus causing a high percentage of drop-outs among the settlers. The lack of understanding of the meaning and implication of the scheme by some settlers who assumed that through their participation in the scheme they would eventually get paid job also impeded the sustainability of the scheme. They were discouraged and some withdrew as soon as the allowances were not given any more. The high cost of establishing a viable farm settlement in terms of cash and staff discouraged some of the participants. Finally, expenses made on the scheme was incurred mainly on installation of infrastructure like construction of houses, schools, markets, roads etc. for the settlers which did not directly bring about increase in agricultural output by  the  participants as targeted.

National Accelerated Food Production Programme (NAFPP)

National Accelerated Food Production Programme (NAFPP) was an agricultural extension pr ogramme initiated in  1972  by  the  Federal  Department  of  Agriculture  during  General  Yakubu  Gowon’s regime.  The  programme focused  on  bringing about  a  significant increase  in the  production  of  maize,  cassava, rice and wheat in  the northern states through subsistent production within a short period of time. The programme was designed to spread to other states in the country after the pilot stage that was established in Anambra, Imo, Ondo, Oyo, Ogun, Benue, Plateau and Kano states. Mini –kit, production-kit and mass adoption phases were the three phases of the programme. The policy goal of NAFPP was to make Nigeria self-sufficient in food production. Consequently, land reform and mass literacy policies were recommended for farmers.

It was the opinion of the initiators of this programme that target crops for accelerated production are major staple foods of Nigerians and if produced in abundance, hunger and related food crisis will be put to check. This was achieved through the introduction of high yielding varieties, use of appropriate fertilizers, agrochemicals, good storage and processing facilities, provision of credit as well as marketing outlets. In addition, several research institutes were mandated to develop improved crop varieties and were made popular through extension agents and the use of mass media. The policy instruments included subsidy, credit, adaptive research and demonstration plots. 

The Go-Back-to-Land Programme of 1983-1985 was a restoration of the elements of NAFPP after the military coup in 1985.

Lapses found in the programme included inability if some farmers  to  form  co-operatives  which made them left  out  in  the  programme  as  the programme relied on disbursement of credits and farm inputs through co-operative societies. Abrupt/premature withdrawal of funding by the Federal Government due to the introduction of another programme termed Operation Feed the Nation cased a major blow to the continuation of the programme. Demonstration  trials  done  on  some  selected  farmers’ plots  by  the  research  and  extension personnel did not give a true/good representation of the outcome of the technology or programme. In other words, it lacked farmers’ participation.

Operation Feed the Nation (OFN):

This programme evolved on 21st May 1976 under the military regime of General Olusegun Obasanjo ad remains one of the most widely-publicized agricultural programmes.  The programme was launched in order to bring about increased food production in the entire nation through the active  involvement  and  participation  of  everybody  in  every  discipline    thereby  making  every  person  to  be capable of partly or wholly feeding him or herself.

Under this programme every available piece of land in urban, sub-urban  and  rural  areas  was  meant  to  be  planted  while  government  provided  inputs  and  subsidies  (like agrochemicals, fertilizers, improved variety of seed/seedlings, day olds chicks, matchets, sickle, hoes etc) freely to government establishments. The OFN programme attempted to mobilize the general public to participate actively in agricultural production and ensure self-sufficiency in food production. The programme stimulated Nigerians to farming through the strategy used. Some of these strategies included subsidized production inputs, increased bank credit to farmers, establishment of commodity boards and fixing of attractive prices for agricultural produce. A mass mobilization  and  mass  awareness programme.  Policy  instruments  include  mass media, centralized  input  procurement,  massive fertilizer subsidy and imports.

Farming was done on any available piece of land irrespective of its suitability for agriculture whilst majority of the participants in the programme had little or no farming background and there was no formal or informal preparatory teaching or advice given to them on how to manage their farms. Individuals received these inputs at a subsidized rate. They practiced mono cropping instead of mixed/ relay cropping and relied on hired labour to carry out their farming activities, which resulted in high input and low output /yield per unit of land. Preference was given  to  government  establishments  and  individuals  in  authority/administration over the poor farmers (real producer of food) in terms of input supply. There was abundance of food in the market and less demand for the food because many people produced part or almost whole food they consumed. The Programme addressed the problem of rising food crisis, rural-urban migration and escalating food import bills.

The programme recorded an incidence of endemic poultry diseases especially new castle disease that wiped out the birds due to lack of quarantine and necessary routine inoculation /vaccination.  The  programme lasted till another regime and was replaced  the Green Revolution

Green Revolution (GRP)

The programme was inaugurated by Shehu Shagari in April 1980 to increase production of food and raw materials in order to ensure food security and self-sufficiency in basic staples. Secondly, it aspired to boost production of livestock and fish in order to meet home and export needs and to expand and diversify  the  nation’s  foreign  exchange  earnings  through  production  and  processing  of  export crops. The federal government ensured the success of the programme by providing agrochemicals, improved seeds/seedlings,  irrigation  system,  machine  (mechanization),  credit  facilities,  improved  marketing  and favourable  pricing  policy  for  the  agricultural  products.  Policy instrument  include  food  production  plan,  in  put supply  and  subsidy,  special  commodity development programme, review of  Agricultural credit  guarantee  scheme,  increased  resource allocation to RBDAS etc.

The policy goal of GRP had the dual purpose of curtailing food importation through boosting crop production, and promoting big mechanized farming. By 1983, another military regime toppled the civilian government and subsequently introduced the ‘Go back to land’ programme which aimed at making farmers out of all Nigerians.

The programme did not achieve its objective of increasing food supply because there was delay in execution of most of the projects involved in the programme. There was also no monitoring and evaluation of the projects for which huge sums of money were spent.  

Agricultural Development Projects (ADP)

ADP formerly known as Integrated Agricultural Development Projects (IADP) was earlier established in 1974 in the North East (Funtua), North west (Gusau) and North Central (Gombe) states as pilot schemes. The idea of Agricultural Development Programmes is an offshoot of the concept of integrated agricultural and rural development. It started in 1972 in Northern Nigerian towns of Gombe and Gusau with two pilot projects assisted by the World Bank. This became necessary because of the need for the application of knowledge and skills in all the relevant areas of agriculture. This concept involved the provision of Infrastructural facilities such as roads, schools, water supply in the rural areas at the right times in required quantity to farmers.

The ADP is the implementation organ of the state ministry of agriculture and natural resources. It is semi-autonomous and focuses on the small farmer. It adopts the integrated rural development strategy in its operations. The success of the Gombe and Gusau projects encouraged other state governments to embark on more of such projects with the assistance of the World Bank. Since then, Nigeria has continued to witness agricultural development programmes of various dimensions. It is against this background that effective extension services have been established.  The earlier impressive  result  of  the  programme  led  to  its  replication  in  1989  to  the  entire  then  nineteen  states  of  the Federation. This approach to agricultural and rural development was based on collaborative efforts and tripartite arrangement of the federal government, state government and World Bank.  The objectives of the programme are to bring about solution to the decrease found in agricultural productivity by sustaining domestic food supply, through massive infusion of world bank funds, the ADPs were established to provide extension services, technical input support and rural infrastructure to  the  farmers/rural  dwellers.

Today, the programme has grown to become the major agricultural and rural development programme existing in states in Nigeria. The important features of the programme are reliance on  the  small  scale  farmers  as the  main people  that  will bring  about in food production and the feedback information mechanism which is a decentralized decision making process that allows farm families/households to give their responses to an innovation/technology, incentive, subsidies etc according to their judgment.

Some problems that occurred in the course of executing the projects were; Shortage of fund due to decline in oil prices that started in 1982 which led to delays in recruiting competent staff and provision or purchasing of materials and facilities needed for the projects take off. This made implementation much slower than scheduled. Secondly, ADP emphasizes more on modern/ high input technology like sole cropping while majority of the farmers practiced mixed/relay cropping. There was also untimeliness of subsidized input supply for the programme. 

Considering that ADPs are still recognized, its present problems include: high frequency of labour mobility, limited involvement of input agencies, dwindling funding policies and counterpart funding, intricacies of technology transfer etc.

The closest assistance ever realized by farmers in Nigeria have come from contact with various Agricultural Development Programmes (ADPs) and the extension agents working under the Training and Visit (T and V)) system. The Activities of ADPs in Nigeria spread over three thematic areas; provision of infrastructural rural facilities, conducting worthwhile trainings on improved agricultural technologies and supply of farm inputs to enhance the technical and economic efficiency of small  farmers  in  general. 

River Basin-Development Authorities (RBDAs) (1976)     

The existing abundant water resources in the country and its potential for increasing agricultural production prompted the establishment of River Basin Development Authority (RBDA). The scheme became necessary because of persistent short rainy seasons in many parts of the country which has continued to restrict cultivation to single cropping pattern the year round. However, the establishment of various large-scale irrigation facilities the country witnessed unprecedented multiple cropping patterns.

Larger areas were put into cultivation, while livestock and fisheries production were intensified. Available statistics from eight River Basin Development Authorities showed that there was an increase in the tempo of activities in 1998 when it was earlier reported that the Hadejia-Jama’are River Basin and Tiga and Challawa dams located in former Kano State could conserve enough water to irrigated land that can produce over 50% of the nations need for wheat, 30% of its need for rice, cotton and sugar cane.In addition, it could produce several thousand tons of fish; develop livestock, poultry and hydroelectric power generation.

River  Basin  Development  Decree  was  promulgated  in  1976  to  establish  eleven  River  Basin  Development Authorities  (RBDAs)  (Decree  25  of  1976). The  initial  aim  of  the  authorities  was  to  boost economic potentials of the existing  water bodies particularly irrigation and fishery with hydroelectric  power generation  and  domestic  water  supply  as  secondary  objectives. 

The objective  of the  programme  was  later extended to other areas most importantly to production and rural infrastructural development. Problems found in the programme were: a number of the authorities grew out of proportion and the operations of some suffered from  intensive  political  interference.    Also  ,substantial  public  funds  were  wasted  to  streamline  sizes  and functions of RBDAs through the disposal of their non-water assets.    Policy instruments include input distribution credit services, infrastructure development, manpower development.

Agency-Based Intervention Programmes

National Agricultural Land Development Authority (NALDA)

This was established in 1992 much more later than the Decree (Land Use Decree, 1978) and Act (Land Use Act 1979). The authority aims at giving strategic public support for land development, assisting and promoting better uses of Nigeria’s rural land and their resources, boosting profitable employment opportunities for rural dwellers, raising the level/standard of living of rural people, targeting and assisting in achieving food security through self reliance and sufficiency.

This development authority executed a national agricultural land development programme aimed at moderating the problems of low utilization of abundant farm land, thereby increasing food production level of farmers through expansion of farmers’ farm lands. A survey conducted by the Central Bank of Nigeria in 1998 indicated that the agency was able to develop 16,000 hectares of land. Out of this, 12,984 (81.1%) was cultivated with various crops. It also provided extension services to farmers at project sites. The overall goal of NALDA was to encourage farmers to plant above what they can consume, so that the surpluses can be sold at the local markets or exported to other countries for foreign  exchange earnings. The land reform act/decree has been criticized most as what highly placed officers used to usurp land that belonged to poor people.   

Directorate of Food, Road and Rural Infrastructure (DFRRI)

The Directorate was initiated in Nigeria in January 1986 under General Ibrahim Babangida’s administration. It was a kind of home grown social dimensions of adjustment (SDA) that was embarked upon in most sub Saharan African  countries  by  the  World  Bank,  African  Development  Bank  and  the  United  Nations  Development  Programme (UNDP). The programme was designed to improve the quality of life (improvement in nutrition, housing, health, employment, road, water, industrialization etc) and standard/level of living of the rural dwellers through the use of many resources that exist in the rural areas and mass participation of the rural people.

On establishment, DFRRI attempted to open the rural areas through the construction of access roads, and provision of basic amenities of modern living. The potentials of rural areas were seen to be both immediate and long term and the idea of opening up of rural areas with feeder roads and integrating it with other parts of the country provided basis for food that could be evacuated to enhance the quantity of food and raw materials consumption.

Consequently, the agency was to ensure more food at cheaper rate and improve rural condition to stem the rate of rural-urban migration; improve quality of rural life and by implication, its productive capacity that would ensure a greater exploitation of the potentials of rural areas. The problem of DFRRI was hardly one of enthusiasm and relevance but of variation between enormity of rural under development and the quantum of resources available to subdue the problem. The poor quality of infrastructures provided by the directorate probably due to embezzlement / mismanagement of fund made the impact of the programme almost insignificant. However, the directorate has been criticized in the past for lack of proper focus and programme accountability.

Better Life Programme (BLP) For Rural Women

Better Life Programme (BLP) for rural women was founded in Nigeria by Mrs Maryam Babangida  (wife of the then president of Nigeria) in 1987.  The programme aimed at stimulating and motivating rural women towards achieving better living standards and sensitizing the rest of Nigerians to their problems. Others include; to raise consciousness  about  their  rights,  the  availability  of  opportunities  and  facilities,  their  social,  political  and economic  responsibilities;  encourage  recreation  and  enrich  family  life;  and  inculcate  the  spirit  of  self-development particularly in the fields of education, business, arts, crafts and agriculture.

The programme was over publicized and was criticized by people who thought that the programme might turn into a mere fashion parade. Also, cultural and religious inhibition of the Muslims that do not allow easy access to women in ‘purdah’ reduced level of participation and consequently led to low level of benefit accruing from the programme.                                 

Family Support Programme (FSP)/ Family Economic Advancement Programme (FEAP)

Family Support Programme (FSP) was initiated in 1994   while FEAP was initiated in 1996 by late General

Abacha and his wife, Mrs. Maryam Sani Abacha. This programme notably culminated in the creation of the Ministry of Women’s  Affairs  and  Social  Welfare The  programme  stressed on  areas  like  health,  education,  women  in  development,  agriculture,  child  welfare  and  youth  development, disability, destitution, income generation as well as facilitating the provision of shelter for the less privileged in the society from on-going housing programme of government.  It is unfortunate that these programmes (FSP and FEAP) died as soon as the administration that initiated them was dethroned thereby limiting their impact on the women and the masses.

National Fadama Development Project (NFDP)

The first National Fadama Development Project (NFDP-1) was designed in the early 1990s to promote simple low-cost improved irrigation technology under World Bank financing. The main objective of NFDP- I was to sustainably increase the incomes of the fadama users through expansion of farm and non-farm activities with high value-added output The programme covered twelve states of Adamawa, Bauchi, Gombe, Imo, Kaduna, Kebbi, Lagos, Niger, Ogun Oyo, Taraba including the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

NFDP adopted community driven development (CDD) approach with extensive participation of the stakeholders at early stage of the project. This approach is in line with the policies and development strategies for Nigeria which  emphasize  poverty  reduction,  private  sector  leadership  and  beneficiary  participation.

Overall appraisal of the first and second phases of the project show remarkable success hence, the invention of the current third phase. The problem associated with the project  lies on the fact that  unskilled handling of water application through irrigation can degrade and deplete the soil of its productive capacity (Afolayan, 1997) while environmental impact assessment conducted on behalf of the NFDP showed that the programme does not pose serious threat to the environment (Agriscope, 2001).          

Since 1999 Nigeria has embarked on an ambitious economic reform program that is yielding impressive results in budget discipline  and  implementation.  The  reform  programme  is  also  leading  to  less  waste  as  many government  benefits  are  now  monetized. The thrust of current Nigerian government policy against poverty is to enable the poor and more vulnerable sections of the society to achieve sustainable livelihoods. Government programmes in the era that are related to agriculture emphasize poverty alleviation. They include.

National Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy (NEEDS)

NEEDS was initiated by Olusegun Obasanjo in 1999. The key elements of this development strategy included poverty eradication, employment generation, wealth creation and value reorientation. NEEDS provided help to agriculture, industry, small and medium scale enterprises and oil and gas. It sets up a series of performance targets that government wanted to achieve by 2007.These include a 6 percent annual growth in agricultural GDP of US $ 3 billion per year on agricultural exports and 95 percent self sufficiency in food. NEEDS offered farmers improved irrigation, machinery and crop varieties which would help to boost agricultural productivity and tackle poverty  head  on  since  half  of  Nigerian’s  poor  people  are  engaged  in  agriculture.  Its  activity  with  States’ Economic  Empowerment  and  Development  Strategies  (SEEDS)  would  help  to  implement  integrated  rural development programme to stem rural-urban migration.  NEEDS  differ  from  other  reforms  by  its participatory  process  that  will  ensure  ownership,  sustainability,  encompassing  scope,  coordination, attractiveness, problem solving and achievement oriented. NEEDS/SEEDS process has been commended for bringing about cordial relationship between federal and state level planning. The plans enumerate strategic roles for the private sector in agriculture. 

National, Special Programme on Food Security (NSPFS)

This Programme  was launched in January 2002 in all the thirty six states of the federation during the Olusegun Obasanjo’s regime. The broad objective of the programme was to increase food production and eliminate rural poverty.  Other  specific  objectives  of  the  programme  were:  assisting  farmers  in  increasing  their  output, productivity  and  income;  strengthening  the  effectiveness  of  research  and  extension  service  training  and educating farmers on farm management for effective utilization of resources; supporting governments efforts in the promotion of simple technologies for self sufficiency; consolidating initial efforts of the programme on pilot areas  for  maximum  output  and  ease  of  replication;  consolidating  gain  from  on-going  for  continuity  of  the programme and consequent termination of external assisted programmes and projects. Setbacks associated with the programme were seen in the inability of majority of the beneficiaries to repay their loan on time, complexity and  incompatibility  of  innovation  and  difficulty  in  integrating  technology  into  existing  production  system.  Others include:  insufficient  knowledge  of  credit  use,  poor extension agent-  farmer  contact,  unavailability of labour to carry out essential  farming activities, lack of modern storage facilities and high cost of  farm input.     

Root And Tuber Expansion Programme (RTEP)

RTEP was launched on 16th April 2003 under Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration. It covers 26 states and was designed to address the problem of food production and rural poverty. At the local farmers level, the programme hopes to achieve economic growth, improve access of the poor  to social services and carry out intervention measures to protect poor and vulnerable groups. At the national level the programme is designed to achieve food security and stimulate demand for cheaper staple food such as cassava, gairi, yam, potato etc as against more expensive carbohydrate such as rice (//E;/presidential Research and communications unit-Government in Action htm).   Small holder farmers with less than two hectares of land per household were the targets of the programme while special attention is being paid to women who play a significant role in rural food production, processing and marketing. RTEP also targets at multiplying and introducing improved root and tuber varieties to about 350,000 farmers in order to increase productivity and income.

In recent decades, the potential contribution of agriculture as one of the drivers of economic growth has been a subject of much controversy among development economists. While some contend that agricultural development is a pre-condition for industrialization, others strongly disagree and argue for a different path. While agriculture may no longer serve as the leading foreign exchange earner due to phenomenal growth in the petroleum sector of the economy as observed; still it is the dominant economic activity in terms of employment, leading contributor to Nigeria’s gross national product and linkages with the rest of the economy. While accounting for one-third of the GDP, it remains the leading employment sector of the vast majority of the Nigerian population as it employs two-third of the labor force. The Economic development decline in Nigeria with GDP of about 45billion, 32.953 billion and 55.5billion dollars in 2001, 2002 and 2003 respectively and per capita income of about $300 a year according to the CBN Annual Report of 2010 notwithstanding oil production has confirmed the need to pay attention to agriculture. This includes:

Agricultural Transformation Agenda (ATA)

The Transformation Agenda of the former president Jonathan administration identified seven sectors as the main growth drivers during the transformation period, 2011-2015, via: agriculture, water resources, solid minerals, manufacturing, oil and gas, trade and commerce as well as culture and tourism. The decision was prompted by the fact that the performance in these sectors has been constrained by several challenges including low productivity, low level of private sector investment, non-competitiveness, inadequate funding, shortage of skilled manpower, low investment in research and development, poor development of value chain and low value addition, poor regulatory environment, poor quality of goods and services and poor state of physical infrastructure, policy instability and discontinuity, low level of technology, paucity and poor flow of information and high cost of doing business (FGN, 2011). Government thus, assumed a baseline Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth rate of 11.7 per cent per annum within the period, which will translate to real and nominal GDP of about N428.6 billion and N73.2 trillion, respectively at the end of the program period.

Implications of Policy and Agency-Based Development Initiatives

All these agricultural and rural development initiatives have affected agricultural production level in Nigeria. It was reported that annual production of sorghum has continued to increase, even though it is grown only in the Savannah ecological zones of Nigeria. This is as a result of improved varieties developed by researchers for its popularization. The increase in research institutes have also broadened the scope of agricultural education ad extension services in the nation.

While it cannot be said that these policies are not vibrant enough for rural and agricultural transformation, lack of continuity and eagerness to be identified with a named policy intervention of successive government in our country has been the bane of the much desired rural and agricultural development and transformation to guarantee self-sufficiency in food and fibre.

It is interesting to note that the issues and challenges have not changed much since the dawn of agriculture in Nigeria. The multifarious past national agricultural development policies/programmes have failed to improve the standard of living of millions Nigerian people and economic development of the country.  Majority of farmers (more than 65%) still use the crude method of farming; Storage ideas and facilities have not improved much and thus losses incurred from postharvest handling are still very high; Infrastructure development has not progressed to meet the current challenges, resulting in stagnation of processes and logistical nightmare; Access to markets has remained a recurring headache making the idea of Farming very unattractive to most people. Beyond all of this the fact remains that, Nigeria’s Agriculture Sector has enormous potential, with an opportunity to grow output by 160% from USD 99 billion at present to USD 256 billion by 2030[10] (depending on who you ask).

Opportunities highlighted at SENCE Agric’s Agriculture Fair of March 2012 showed that Nigeria faces a large and growing global agricultural market which still remain that way in 2019. The rising commodity prices, growing demand for food and opportunities in bio fuel as safe sources of alternative fuel all present significant opportunities for Nigeria. In summary Agriculture has had a long history in Nigeria albeit a not so successful one but the future is great and the right people need to be involved to move it away from rhetoric to a life giving, money making venture for the good of man and country.

The Central Bank of Nigeria has also emphasized the need for a stronger relation between other sectors of the economy with emphasis on the banking sector and the agricultural sector in other to have an improved performance and policies to enhance the relationship have been made to that effect. This could further be reflected in the legislation of governments and the directives of quasi government institutions like the CBN on the issue. The setting up of a wholly government owned bank in the name of the Nigerian Agriculture, Cooperative and Rural Development Bank (NACRDB), Development Bank of Nigeria, Bank of Industry with agricultural based facilities on short, medium and long-term basis is predicated on the philosophy that the mainstream banking industry does not adequately cater for the urgent need of credits required for rapid transformation of the agricultural sector of the economy.

There is a dire need for continuity and perpetual implementation of agriculture development policies by the current and future administration for the impact of the policies to be felt in Nigeria economy. The inconsistency of regional agriculture development policies with the national policies: new agriculture policies and programmes should be consistent, work in harmony and closely with state and national policies and programmes. The good relationship and peaceful atmosphere will always ensure the success of agricultural policies, programme and consequent agricultural development. Policies should be monitored and evaluated purposely to determine achievements of rural/agriculture development programmes vis-à-vis the set policy objectives.

To  be  successful,  Nigeria’s  reform and agricultural programmes in particular need to be backed up or initiated   through a policy or policies coupled with increased and better co-ordinated technical and financial assistance. It should also be a programme selected based on a rational, national and institutional structure that come from a national consensus on how best to achieve sustainable and equitable rural/ agricultural development.


Integrating Value addition in Agric production. Research conference University of Lagos

Williams, S.K.T. (1978). Rural Development in Nigeria. Ile-Ife University of Ife Press, Nigeria, 129pp.

 Ayoola, G.B. (2001), Essays on The Agricultural Economy 1: A Book of Readings on Agricultural Development Policy and Administration in Nigeria: Ibadan: TMA Publishers. Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO), (2004) The Ethics of Sustainable Agricultural Intensification.

Ayoola (2001) Essays on the Agricultural Economy: A Book of Readings on Agricultural Development Policy and Administration in Nigeria. TMA Publishers Ibadan P. 81.

Central Bank of Nigeria: Nigeria Incentive Based Risk Sharing for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL), November 16, 2011, pg 2

Paper presented by the Executive Director of NIHORT in March 2012 at the SENCE Agric Agricultural Fair.

Lessons from Agricultural Policies and Programmes in Nigeria 2016  Iwuchukwu J .C. and Igbokwe E.M. Department of Agricultural Extension, University of Nigeria, Nsukka.

Journal of Law, Policy and Globalization ISSN 2224-3240 (Paper)  ISSN 2224-3259 (Online) Vol 5, 2012