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Why Should I Go Into Agriculture? Reasons the Agricultural Sector is Important



A strong and an efficient agricultural sector would enable a country to feed its growing population, generate employment, earn foreign exchange and provide raw  materials for industries. The agricultural sector has a multiplier effect on any nation’s socio-economic and industrial fabric because of the multifunctional nature of agriculture. Agriculture was the mainstay of the Nigeria economy, before Nigeria ... Continue Reading

A strong and an efficient agricultural sector would enable a country to feed its growing population, generate employment, earn foreign exchange and provide raw  materials for industries. The agricultural sector has a multiplier effect on any nation’s socio-economic and industrial fabric because of the multifunctional nature of agriculture.

Agriculture was the mainstay of the Nigeria economy, before Nigeria joined the league of oil producing nations in 1958. Before this date, the agricultural sector was a major employer of labor in Nigeria, with groundnut, cocoa, cotton, rubber and palm oil the main cash crops produced. And from the Western region cocoa revenue, Chief Obafemi Awolowo was able to implement his free education policy throughout the Western region. Then, agriculture constituted up to about 75 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Also, Nigeria was a major exporter of agricultural commodities and earned most of its foreign exchange from agricultural produce.

But with the discovery of oil at Oloibiri, River State in 1958, and as Nigeria began to earn fast money from oil sale, agriculture was relegated to the background. And at present, Nigeria earns about 82 percent of the foreign exchange from oil alone, when the country has the capacity, to make a substantial amount of foreign income from a diversified and more secured economy.

The National Bureau of statistics (NBS) reports that about 20.3 million youths are jobless in the country, while 1.8 million graduates enter the labour market every year. In addition, the World Bank Statistics put Nigeria among the five poorest countries in the world due to high rate of unemployment and low per capita income indices.

And the neglect of agriculture in Nigeria hinders efforts at different levels to reduce poverty and unemployment, and increase food security, as well diversify the economy. Several stakeholders at different occasions argue that if not for lack of credit facilities and negative attitude of many Nigerians to agriculture, there is no reason for many Nigerians to be unemployed, when there are over 80 million hectares of arable land, abundant water resources, adequate rainfall and diversified ecological conditions.

Why is agriculture important? The concept of ‘food security’ is fundamentally important, and for that reason, agriculture is important. The task of feeding its people has been perhaps the first priority of nations throughout history. As such, agriculture is considered to be the very basis of political and social stability of a nation since times immemorial.

Moreover, the agricultural sector plays an important role in the sphere of providing large scale employment to people. Large and moderately large farms employ workers to undertake the various jobs relating to cultivation of crops and care of farm animals. In most of the countries of the world, agriculture still remains the biggest sector responsible for the employing and feeding a large percentage of the population.

Agriculture is also important from the point of view of appraising the standard of a  country’s development, based on the competence of its farmers. Poorly trained farmers cannot apply the advanced methods and new technologies. The prominence of science and technology in the development of agriculture is quite clear from the words of Deng Xiaoping:

The development of agriculture depends first on policy, and second on science. There is neither any limit to developments in science and technology, nor to the role that they can play in the field of agricultural growth’.

Though agriculture often plays a contributory role in the ‘Gross Domestic Product’ – GDP – of most countries, it nevertheless requires a substantial boost from both the local and the international community.

Agriculture is traditionally based on bulk manufacturing. Harvesting is done once a season, most of the times, and stocked and used later. In fact, some thinkers opine that people have begun to adopt ‘batch processing’ and ‘stocking’ in manufacturing, as a result of the practices from agricultural thinking. Before industrialization, people with the biggest stocks of food and other supplies were considered more stable, and they were able to face challenges of nature without having to starve.

So important is the role of agriculture that new concepts keep ‘cropping up’ to give the traditional activity a modern turn. One such new concept the world is raving about these days is – the importance of ‘organic farming’. There is evidence that, apart from their numerous other benefits, organic farms are more sustainable and environmentally sound, giving agriculture a new dimension.

The importance of agricultural practices was further established when ‘Organic food’ began as a small movement decades ago, with gardeners and farmers rejecting the use of conventional non-organic practices. With the growth of the Organic food market now out-pacing much of the food industry, many big companies have ventured into it. With the emergence of multi-national companies, and with the creation of a legal certification framework such as the Soil Association, there is every doubt that the very definition of organic food will change, making it more of a commercial activity than ever before!

In fact, modern agriculture has already undergone a sea-change from the ancient times. Today, the importance of agriculture lies in the fact that it is practiced both for subsistence as well as commercial reasons!

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