ROLES OF GOVERNMENT IN AGRICULTURAL DEVELOPMENT
Government plays an important role in the development of agriculture in Nigeria. This has helped to solve the numerous problems which resulted in the poor development of agriculture. The roles of government in agricultural development include:
1) Provision of Financial Assistance: The federal government, through its various agencies, has helped in the provision of financial assistance to farmers in the form of loans, credit and subsidies. Agencies like Nigerian Agricultural and Co-operative Bank (N.A.C.B), Agricultural Credit Guarantee Scheme (A.C.G.S) and the National Directorate of Employment (N.D.E) were established to give loans to farmers. The government also directed commercial banks to give loans to farmers in order to boost their production.
Government can render financial farmers either in the form of loans, subsidies.
- Agricultural Credit: This is a refundable loan given to a farmer with the aim that the farmer will repay it after a specified period of time.
- Agricultural Subsidies: These are non-refundable aids granted to farmers. In other words, subsidies are aids given to farmers in cash or in kind without the intention of paying back. Examples of agricultural subsidies are: reduction in the prices of inputs such as fertilizers, improved seeds and chemicals.
2) Establishment of Agricultural Programmes: The government decided to establish agricultural programmes with the aim of boosting greater production of crops and livestock.
Such programmes include:
- Agricultural Loan Schemes.
- River Basin Development Authorities (RBDA).
- National Agricultural Insurance Scheme (NAIS).
- Green Revolution.
- Operation Feed the Nation (OFN).
- National Agricultural Land Development Agency (NALDA).
- Agricultural Development Projects (ADP).
- Directorate of Food, Road and Rural Infrastructure (DFFRI
- National Accelerated Industrial Crop Production Programme (NAICPS).
- National Accelerated Food Production Programme (NAFPP).
- Agro-Service Centres.
- Farm Settlement Scheme.
- Co-operative Farming.
Major Objectives of the Agricultural Programmes
a) Agricultural Loan Scheme.
- To provide fund for financing agricultural projects.
- To provide soft loans to farmers.
b) River Basin Development Authorities: This programme was set up by the federal government between 1979 and 1983. The aims were:
- To provide irrigation facilities through construction of dams for all-year-round agricultural production.
- To provide portable water to the rural people for increased agricultural production.
- It helps to bring more land under cultivation by increasing the farm size of a small scale farmer through the provision of land-clearing services, e.g ., tractor-hiring at minimum cost.
- To increase the total output per farmer with increased net revenue returns.
- Construction of feeder roads to project sites for good transportation.
- To improve rural infrastructure generally, thus reducing migration.
- Construction of fish ponds; thereby enhancing the distribution of fingerlies to fish farmers.
c) National Agricultural Insurance Scheme
- To provide security against risks, uncertainties and hazards in agriculture for farmers.
d) Green Revolution
- The Green Revolution was also set up between 1979 and 1983 by the Federal Government. The aims were:
- to encourage large-scale farming;
- to establish River Basin Authorities to boost the supply of water for irrigation purposes;
- to produce abundant food crops for local consumption;
- to produce cash crops for export purposes.
e) Operation Feed The Nation
The Operation Feed the Nation (OFN) was set up by General Olusegun Obasanjo military regime between 1976 and 1979.
The aims of the programme were:
- to increase food production;
- to popularise agriculture;
- to provide food for all Nigerians;
- to facilitate agricultural development in all parts of Nigeria.
f) National Agricultural Land Development Agency
- This programme was meant to prepare and provide land for agriculture.
g) Agricultural Development Project
The programme started in 1975. It was co-financed by World Bank, Federal and state governments. The aims were:
- to boost agricultural production through the construction of farm service centres for efficient distribution of agricultural inputs;
- to construct rural infrastructures, such as feeder roads and earth dams; to increase the level of extension contact with farmers;
- to bring agricultural services closer to the people in rural areas;
- to source and make available farm inputs to farmers e.g. improved seeds, fertilizers and chemicals;
- to help in the reclamation of degraded agricultural land.
h) Directorate of Foods, Roads, and Rural Infrastructure (DFRRI)
This programme was established in 1986 by the Federal Government. The aims were:
- to provide rural infrastructures that would facilitate food production;
- to develop small scale agro-based industries;
- to provide electricity to the rural dwellers;
- to provide rural infrastructures that would improve the quality of life for rural dwellers, e.g. water and roads;
- to provide rural infrastructures that would facilitate food production and processing.
- This was established to educate farmers on methods of increasing productivity on their land.
- The aim was to increase the production of industrial crops that would serve as raw materials for agro-based industries, e.g oil palm, cashew, rubber and cocoa.
k) Agro-Service Centres
The aims of these agro-service centres are:
- to supply drugs and vaccines to farmers;
- to provide expert services to farmers;
- to provide farm inputs, like seeds and fertilizers at reduced rates;
- to supply spare parts for agricultural machines and implements.
l) Farm Settlement Scheme (FSS)
The Farm Settlement Scheme was established in 1959 by the then Western Region Government of Nigeria. The aims were:
- To stimulate small rural farmers to increase their productivity and improve their standard of living.
- To develop a modern farming system in order to attract the young and educated people into farming.
- To induce rural development, thereby halting the drift to urban areas.
- To alleviate unemployment or provide job for the teeming population.
- To check the land tenure system.
- To bring about changes in agricultural methods and teach modern farming practices to the youths.
m) Agricultural Development Programme (ADP)
The objectives of Agricultural Development Programme (ADP) are:
- To support farmers to increase agricultural production.
- To make for the provision of rural infrastructure like roads, schools, health services, rural electrification, among others.
- To help in the provision of clean drinking water.
- To assist in the supply of modern farm inputs such as chemical, seeds and fertilizers.
- The programme aims to make provision for facilities for mechanised agriculture.
- To increase the level of extension contact with farmers.
n) Co-operative Farming
Co-operative farming is a kind of farming initiated by government in which a group of farmers come together for farming purposes. Co-operative farming plays numerous roles.
Roles of co-operative organizations in agricultural production are:
i) General Support for Members
- The organizations make provision for employment (labour).
- They provide farm input.
- Cooperative organizations provide processing facilities for their members.
- They make provision for storage facilities for members.
- The organizations make provision for a ready market for farm produce.
- Co-operative organizations also provide training facilities and opportunities to their members.
- Cooperative organizations provide funds or capital for their members.
- They create awareness among members on what, when and how to produce.
- Cooperative organizations enhance investment opportunities.
- They encourage large scale production and expansion of members’ investment frontiers.
ii) Provision of Farm Inputs: Farm inputs like chemicals, farm tools and implements, fertilizers, improved seeds were not only provided by the government in sufficient quantities but were subsidised to enable peasant farmers to buy and use them.
iii) Provision of Basic Amenities: In order to discourage the migration of able-bodied men and youths from rural to urban areas, government decided to provide basic amenities such as electricity, healthcare services and pipeborne water in rural areas. These amenities enable people to stay in the rural areas and farm.
iv) Provision of Storage and Processing Facilities: In order to prevent food wastage and provide food in periods of scarcity, government decided to provide storage and processing facilities in all parts of the country.
v) Provision of Effective Transportation Network: The government, through its agencies like the Directorate of Food, Roads and Rural Infrastructure (DFRRI), has helped in the construction of feeder roads in rural areas to ease the transportation of produce from the farm or rural areas to urban centres. Without good roads and good vehicles, most of the produce will be wasted and this may discourage the farmers.
vi) Provision of Pest and Disease Control Services: For farmers to produce foodstuff in large quantities, the government makes provision for drugs, chemicals and vaccines which are used for pests and diseases control. In addition, the government also employs pathologists and veterinary doctors to prevent and control pests and diseases of crops and animals respectively. Quarantine departments in airports, borders, and seaports are also set up to ensure that no plant or animal imported carries disease with it into the country.
vii) Provision of Extension Services: Extension services enables new ideas and innovations to get to rural farmers. Government has helped to employ qualified and experienced extension officers to perform these roles.
viii) Provision of Agricultural Education: In view of the fact that majority of Nigerian farmers are illiterates, the government decided to provide adult education, e.g. nomadic education (for cattle Fulani) to enable them to read and write, to apply modern system of farming, and also to promote easy acceptance of new techniques and innovation in agriculture. Government also encourages the teaching of agriculture in schools.
ix) Provision of Research Work: In order to improve the local varieties or breeds of crops and animals respectively, the government also set up numerous research institutes to provide solutions to the problems of local crops and animals with a view to increasing production. Examples of such agricultural research institutes established by government to carry out research works are:
- National Cereals Research Institute (NCRI), Badegi.
- Cocoa Research Institute of Nigeria (CRIN), Ibadan.
- Nigerian Institute for Oilpalm Research, (NIFOR), Benin.
- National Institute for Trypanosomiasis Research – (NITR).
- National Horticultural Research Institute (NIHORT), Ibadan.
- Rubber Research Institute of Nigeria (RRIN), Benin.
- National Root Crops Research Institute (NRCRI), Umudike.
- Forestry Research Institute of Nigeria (FRIN), Ibadan.
- National Institute for Oceanography and Marine Research (NIOMAR), Lagos.
- National Veterinary Research Institute (NVRI), Vom.
- International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Ibadan.
- Lake Chad Research Institute (LCRI), Maiduguri.
- Leather Research Institute of Nigeria (LRIN) Zaria.
- Nigerian Stored Products Research Institute (NSPRI), Ilorin.
Aims and Objectives of Agricultural Research Institutes
- Agricultural research institutes are centres for the development of new farming technologies or practices.
- They have, through research, developed improved varieties of a large number of crops, such as palm trees, coconut, rubber, cocoa, maize, cassava, etc. They have bred improved strains /breeds of animals with higher yield of milk, eggs, etc for the benefit of the populace.
- They have developed better methods of controlling pests and diseases of some crops and animals.
- They have also developed new cultural practices and farming systems for better yields.
- Agricultural research institutes have also developed effective local methods of storing farm produce.
- They have developed vaccines for preventing and controlling diseases of animals.
GOVERNMENTAL ORGANISATIONS INVOLVED IN IMPROVING AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTION IN WEST AFRICA
- Agricultural Development Projects (ADPs)
- River Basin Development Authoritie
- National Agricultural Land Development Authority (NALDA).
- Agricultural Development Bank (ADB) or any agricultural bank, e.g ., N.A.C.B.
- National Agricultural Insurance Company (NAIC).
- Any of the national agricultural research institutes.