Agriculture is concerned with the husbandry of crops and animals for food and other purposes. It is the foundation upon which the development of stable human communities, such as rural and urban communities has depended on in many parts of the world.
The study of economic history provides us with ample evidence that an agricultural revolution is a fundamental pre-condition for economic development.
The agricultural sector has the potentials to be the industrial and economic springboard from which a country’s development can take off.
Indeed, more often than not, agricultural activities are usually concentrated in the less developed rural areas where there is a critical need for rural transformation, redistribution, poverty alleviation and socio-economic development.
The agricultural sector has the potentials to shape the landscape, provide environmental benefits such as conservation, guarantee sustainable management of renewable natural resources, preserve biodiversity and contribute to the viability of rural areas.
Agriculture as a branch of the world economy plays a significant role in human life. Its main goal is to meet the population's needs for food and provide the industry with raw materials.
From this, you will learn the role of agriculture in Nigeria economic development.
THE CONCEPT OF AGRICULTURE
Agriculture is the science and art of cultivating plants and livestock. Agriculture was the key development in the rise of sedentary human civilization, whereby farming of domesticated species created food surpluses that enabled people to live in cities.
The history of agriculture began thousands of years ago. After gathering wild grains beginning at least 105,000 years ago, nascent farmers began to plant them around 11,500 years ago.
Pigs, sheep and cattle were domesticated over 10,000 years ago. Plants were independently cultivated in at least 11 regions of the world.
Industrial agriculture based on large-scale monoculture in the twentieth century came to dominate agricultural output, though about 2 billion people still depended on subsistence agriculture into the twenty-first.
THE GROWTH AND DEVELOPMENT OF AGRICULTURE: HOW IT HAS ENHANCED NATIONAL GROWTH
Empirical evidences have pointed to the impact of agriculture on economic growth. A rise in agricultural productivity had a multiplier effect on the level of economic growth in Nigeria.
Hirschman (1958) was one of the theorists to emphasize linkage effect in the growth process although his analysis focused mainly on the backward and forward linkages created by investment in industrial sectors.
Godoy and Dewbree (2010) are also of the view that agricultural development plays a vital role in poverty reduction and economic transformation. Agricultural growth reduces poverty through direct impacts on farm incomes and employment while indirect impacts are through linkages.
The importance of inter-sectional linkage in the growth process had already been widely recognized.
The impact of agriculture in the Nigerian economy could be discussed under the following thematic areas;
(a) Employment Creation
With the period under review (1980-2014) agricultural sector still provides employment population in the country. With employment, individuals get to contribute to the national output thereby stimulating economic growth.
The labor force when categorized by sector, the service sector employs 32% of the labor force, Manufacturing 11% while agriculture employs 30% of the labor force in spite of inadequate attention placed on it (Wikipedia, 2014).
Similarly, 11.5% of the labor force was employed in the industrial sector in 2005 compared to 44.6% of the labor force employed in the agricultural sector in that same year.
(b) Foreign exchange
Despite the dominance of crude oil, agriculture continues to serve as a buffer to foreign exchange. The sector accounts for diverse items that can be traded with other countries and improve the country balance of trade. As Ismail (2014) puts it, agricultural sector ranks second; as Nigeria most important earner of foreign exchange after petroleum, and contributes about 38 percent (38%) to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
(c) Gross Domestic Product
Agriculture has made tangible impact on the growth of the country’s GDP in recent time. The National Planning Commission (2014) in its report asserted that agriculture as a sector contributed N348.7 billion to the Nigerian economy in 2012 against the N335.18 billion in 2011.
This figure indicated an increase in the growth rate from 3.97% to 5.64% in 2012. An evaluation of the report revealed that the growth was led by crop production which accounts for 20.4% of overall economic growth in 2012.
This figure would no doubt be different in the current period owing to the increased insecurity in the northern region which accounts for bulk of the Nigerian agricultural production.
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