At independence in 1960, agriculture was the largest contributor to the Nigerian economy, accounting for about 63 per cent to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), which is typical for developing agrarian nations.
As at that time incomes were derived from the export of major cash crops like rubber, cocoa, palm oil, cashew nuts, groundnut and cotton, cassava among others and provided about 70 per cent of active labour for Nigerians. But from the 2013 rebased figures the agricultural sector contributed 21.97 percent or N17.625 trillion ($112.26 billion) of the total N80.22 trillion ($510 billion). This compares with N14.71 trillion ($93.7 billion) in the old non-rebased estimates for 2013.
With the inauguration of President Muhammadu Buhari administration on May 29, 2015, farmers were optimistic that the agricultural sector would experience the much awaited change, expected to transform the sector.
Though, President Muhammadu Buhari, has continued assuring the nation that developing the sector and ensuring food security in the country remained a priority to his administration. One year under the President’s watch, agriculture has experienced tremendous set back as the prices of farm produce have gradually become out of reach for consumers of fresh tomato, rice and garri among others.
The prices of some agricultural items have skyrocketed across the major markets in the country.
For instance between 2014 and April 2015, the price of rice was stable in the market even during the Christmas period, when it sold for N9,000. Today however, a bag of rice is being sold for about N17,000 while one basket of tomato that used to sell for about N4000, to N6000 before is now being sold for N12,000 and a custard plastic of garri that sold for N250, now sells for N750 over night.
However, some stakeholders and farmers who spoke to Daily Sun scored Buhari’s administration a lean 5 per cent in agriculture sector, just because of his appointment of Chief Audu Ogbeh as the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development.
Yet other stakeholders in support of President Muhammadu Buhari insist that one year in office was not enough to judge one’s performance. They said the budget has just been approved and that with time Buhari will turn the sector around.