Agriculture is defined as the cultivation of crops and rearing of animals for man’s use.
Types of Agriculture
There are various types of agriculture in Nigeria. These include:
- Plantation (Mechanized) Agriculture
- It requires commercial cultivation in which products are mainly for sale.
- It requires a large area of land.
- It usually involves the cultivation of one crop i.e. monocropping.
- It requires large labour i.e. it is labour intensive.
- It also requires large capital investment.
- It also involves the cultivation of perennial crops like cocoa, rubber, oil palm, etc.
- The products are mainly raw materials used by processing industries.
- It leads to the development of social amenities like pipe borne water, electricity, etc.
- It is mainly practiced in the south where factors necessary for their cultivation are favourable e.g. cocoa in the west, oil palm in the east and rubber in Benin City.
- Subsistence Agriculture
- Produce from subsistence agriculture is mainly for family consumption.
- It requires a small area of land.
- It involves the cultivation of many crops at a time i.e. mixed cropping.
- Family labour is usually used.
- It requires small capital to operate.
- Food crops like maize, cassava, yam, etc. are mainly grown.
- Simple farm tools like cutlass and hoe are mainly used.
- Mixed Farming
- This system involves the cultivation of crops as well as the rearing of animals on the same piece of land.
- Crops mainly grown are rice, maize, yam, cassava, etc. while animals reared may be cattle, sheep, poultry, etc.
- It usually requires small area of land which is intensively cultivated.
- Pasture is mainly grown to provide high quality grasses and legumes (food) for the animals.
- It is very close to urban centres where produce can easily be dispersed of.
- It requires good transport network for easy disposal of products.
- It requires large market.
- Part of the crops produced can be used to feed the animals while the animal droppings are used as manure.
- It is mainly practiced in the north, especially in the Guinea and Sudan Savanna.
- Intensive Agriculture
- This can also be referred to as market gardening or truck farming.
- This is mainly practiced in thickly populated urban areas in Kano, Lagos, Ibadan, Kaduna and Jos.
- It requires small area of land which is intensively cultivated throughout the year.
- Crop rotation method is adopted due to lack of land resulting from high population densities.
- It involves the cultivation of vegetables, fruits and flowers which are in high demand.
- It also involves the use of fertilizers to improve the fertility of the soil and the use of irrigation facilities.
- It is located near urban areas with large market and good network of roads.
- Its produce is sold off soon after harvesting due to easy perishability.
- Crop Rotation
- Crop rotation is an example of intensive agriculture.
- Crops are rotated in sequence, year after year so as to maintain the fertility of the soil.
- Three to five different crops can be grown on the same piece of land but on different plots.
- Deep rooted crops e.g. yam is followed by shallow rooted crop like maize during rotation.
- A legume is always incorporated to add nutrients to the soil.
- It also involves the use of fertilizers to improve the fertility of the soil.
- Food crops are mainly produced.
- Shifting Cultivation
- It involves the movement of the farmer and his family from one piece of land to another when the land is no more fertile.
- Simple farm tools and family labour are employed.
- Forest resources are destroyed.
- The land may rest for several years before it is put to use again.
- Food crops are mainly grown.
- Production is mainly for family consumption.
- It is practiced where land is abundant and where population is very low.
- Pastoral Farming
- This is mainly practiced in the savanna belt of the north, especially in Sudan savanna.
- It is also referred to as nomadic herding.
- It involves the rearing of only animals like cattle, sheep and goat.
- It involves the constant movement of cattle and herdsmen called Fulanis from one place to another in search of pasture and water for the animals.
- Production is favoured by presence of plenty grasses.
- Production is favoured by absence of Tsetse flies.
Important Crops Produced in Nigeria
Important crops produced in Nigeria can be grouped into two classes. These are:
- Food crops: These are grown to provide food. The crops grow and mature within one or two years.
- Grain crops like millet, rice, guinea corn and maize are popularly cultivated in the north due to light rainfall.
- Tuber and root crops like yam, cocoyam, cassava and some grain crops like rice are grown in the middle belt and in the south because of favourable rainfall and fertility of the soil.
Rice is grown in the middle belt because of:
- Enough land due to low population density.
- Conducive climatic conditions e.g. rainfall of above 125cm.
- Abundance of swampy areas along river valley.
- Absence of export crops to compete with rice for land.
- Rice is the main crop of the zone for internal exchange so, it earns more income for the people.
- Cash crops: These are crops grown for sale to provide money either for individuals or for the nation when they are exported. Some important cash (export) crops produced in Nigeria and where they are produced are:
- Cocoa: Akure, Ibadan, Abeokuta.
- Kola: Akure, Ibadan, Abeokuta.
- Rubber: Sapele, Benin City, Akure, Calabar.
- Oil Palm: Aba, Owerri, Portharcourt, Benin, Okitipupa.
- Groundnut: Kano, Kaduna, Bauchi, Kastina.
- Cotton: Zaria, Kaduna, Kano, Bauchi.
- Beniseed: Makurdi (Benue State).
Cocoa: Cocoa is a tree crop grown mainly in the western part of Nigeria around Akure, Abeokuta and Ibadan. Cocoa is one of the most important export crops in Nigeria.
Conditions Necessary for Cocoa Cultivation
- Cocoa requires an annual rainfall of between 125 –200cm.
- It requires an undulating and well-drained soil.
- It requires an average temperature of about 27˚C.
- It requires shade for the cocoa seedlings.
- It requires deep, clayey, rich and non-acid soils.
- Availability of labour.
- Presence of good transport network.
- Favourable market for cocoa products.
Mature or ripe cocoa pods are harvested with knife and cracked to remove the bean seeds which are later fermented and dried, graded and exported. Some are used locally by beverage industries to produce food drinks like bournvita, pronto, etc.
Oil Palm: Oil Palm is also a tree crop grown mainly in the eastern part of Nigerian around Aba, Owerri, Port Harcourt, Benin City (Edo State) and Okitipupa (Ondo State). Palm oil and palm kernel, the major products of oil palm are important export products in Nigeria.
Conditions Necessary for Oil palm Cultivation
- Oil palm requires an average temperature of not less than 24˚C.
- It requires a heavy rainfall of 200-300cm per annum.
- It requires abundance of sunshine.
- It also requires abundance of sunshine.
- It also requires a deep loamy soil which is slightly acidic.
- Availability of labour and good market.
- Good transportation network.
Oil Palm takes 3-5 years to mature. The ripe fruits are fruits are harvested, boiled and with the aid of handscrew press or hand hydraulic press, the oil is extracted from the fruit which is later refined to get palm oil. The nuts are dried and cracked in order to get the palm kernel. Palm oil and palm kernel can then be consumed locally or exported to other countries.
Groundnut: Groundnut is one of the important export crops grown in the north, especially in Kano, Zaria, Kaduna, Sokoto, Bauchi, etc.
Conditions Necessary for Groundnut Production
- Groundnut requires a wide plain for easy cultivation.
- It requires a rainfall of 50-100cm per annum.
- It also requires a long dry season when the fruits can be dried and stored.
- It requires a loose sandy soil which makes planting and harvesting easy.
- Availability of cheap labour.
- Availability of a large market.
- Availability of transport such as roads and railway to move groundnuts to the sea port for shipment abroad.
Matured and ripe groundnut pods are harvested, dried and packed with sacks which are later transported to the seaport for export or to the local market where they are sold for local consumption and use.
Importance of Agriculture
Agriculture is one of the major sectors which contribute to the economic development of Nigeria. Its importance includes:
- Agriculture provides food in form of maize, rice, yam, beans, etc. for human consumption.
- Agriculture also provides employment for over 60% of Nigerians who work directly on the farm or farm related industries.
- Sale of agricultural products like yam, meat, egg, etc. enables the farmers to earn some form of income.
- The export of cash crops like cocoa, cotton, groundnut, palm oil enables the nation to earn foreign exchange.
- Agriculture provides raw materials for clothing and shelter which are obtained from cotton and timber respectively.
- Agriculture provides market for industrial goods like fertilizers, herbicides, farm machines and implements.
- Social amenities like water, electricity and good roads are provided where plantation agriculture exists, hence, the development of such places.
- Raw materials like cocoa, rubber, cotton, etc. are required by industries for various purposes.
Problems of Agriculture in Nigeria
The following problems account for the poor development of Agriculture in Nigeria. These are:
- Lack of finance or credit facilities.
- Poor transportation network.
- Lack of storage and processing facilities.
- Inadequate land due to land tenure system.
- Lack of basic amenities like electricity and pipe borne water in rural areas.
- Use of crude tools and implements.
- Inadequate agricultural education and extension services.
- Problem of pests and diseases.
- Unpredictable climate.
- Negative attitude of the people towards farming.
Solutions to the Problems
- Loans should be given to the farmers.
- Roads should be constructed to link rural areas with urban centres.
- Storage and processing facilities should be provided at reduced rates.
- Farmers should use fertilizers to improve the fertility of the soil and productivity of their crops.
- Basic amenities should be provided to discourage rural-urban migration.
- Farmers should use irrigation system in periods of drought.
- Modern farm implements like tractors, ploughs, ridgers, harvesters, etc. should be used.
- Farmers should be trained to accept modern systems of farming.