Nigeria has huge agricultural potential. With over 84 million hectares of arable land, of which only 40% is cultivated; a population of 167 million people, making her Africa’s largest market; 230 billion cubic meters of water; and abundant and reliable rainfall in over two thirds of its territory, the country has some of the richest natural resources for agricultural production in the world. Not surprisingly, Nigeria used to be a major player in the global agricultural market in the past, as the world’s largest producer of groundnuts and palm oil in the 1960s, and the second largest exporter of cocoa. The country was also self-sufficient in food production before the emergence of oil in the 1960s.
The Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD), is a Ministry of the Nigerian government that regulates agricultural research, agriculture and natural resources, forestry and veterinary research all over Nigeria.
The vision of the Ministry is to grow Nigeria’s agricultural sector. Specifically, the vision is to “achieve a hunger-free Nigeria through an agricultural sector that drives income growth, accelerates achievement of food and nutritional security, generates employment and transforms Nigeria into a leading player in global food markets to grow wealth for millions of farmers”.
In the past four years, Nigeria’s agriculture sector has undergone major reforms and transformation. The introduction of Agricultural Transformation Agenda (ATA) brought about reforms in the input delivery or Growth Enhancement Support (GES) Scheme, agricultural financing, value chain development, including the Staple Crop Processing Zones, and farm mechanization have yielded an abundant harvest for farmers and great gains for the country. Between 2011 and 2014, national food production grew by 21million MT and led to a sharp reduction in food imports. Nigeria’s food import bill fell from an all-time high of N3.19 trillion in 2011 to N635billion in 2013; a 403% reduction. Direct farm jobs rose by 3.56million in the period 2012 to 2014 due to ATA interventions. Agriculture has become an exciting sector in Nigeria.