IT is known fact that agriculture is the mainstay of any economy, and is fundamental to social economic development of any nation. This is because agriculture represents a strategic asset to the overall well-being of a nation’s economy. It provides food, clothing, generates foreign exchange among others.
This is why I find it very pitiful that in a great nation like Nigeria, a nation filled with agricultural potentials, agricultural development has waned considerably. In the past agriculture provided for the nation, Nigeria was a major exporter of agricultural commodities such as cocoa, groundnut, cotton and many others. That was before discovery of oil at Oloibiri in 1958 with oil money rolling in, agriculture fell out of grace and was relegated to the background at great national and domestic cost.
Today, agriculture has lost its pride of place in the Nigerian economy as all focus lies in the oil sector for the survival of the country. As a matter of fact, Nigeria does not meet UN’s standard for the agricultural sector, as only 10 percent of the country’s budget goes to agriculture.
The position of the nation’s economy is a matter of grave concern and call for urgent attention. Clearly, Nigeria’s agriculture need revolution and lessens can be drawn from a country like China, whose impressive agricultural achievements has raised hundreds of millions of peasants from rural poverty in the past 30 years.
Despite the history and geographical differences, there are vital lessons Nigeria can learn from China’s agricultural achievements. In China, agriculture grew at an annual average rate of 4.5 percent. Agricultural development and reforms was a top priority for their government, from the central to the local units. The steady growth in agriculture and rural economy was significant to the acceleration of China’s modernization process. One of the poorest areas of Shandong Province in China was turned in a “Vegetable City” with more than 53,000 hectare vegetable plantations boosting of more than 700 vegetable varieties are providing approximately four million tons annually.
Since the 1950s, China has taken agriculture as the country’s economic base. Analysis shows that between the periods of 1981-2005, China’s agricultural sector was transformed from “one characterized by high and variable distortions to one that is relatively liberal.” Funds were made available for farmers’ education to ensure appropriate training and uptake; and also for agricultural research and extension. China was an early adopter of Green Revelation research and hybrid rice and was the second country in world after the United States known for spending on agricultural biotechnology Agricultural markets were greatly encouraged in China, which prove to be a key factor in the alleviation of poverty in the country.
In the 1980s, food interment, production and rural income were a central pillar of the broader economic development agenda. The objective was to create food security, rural stability surplus income and labour supply to drive broader industrial development. This development enabled a population of about 200 million small hood farmers with each utilizing an average of 0.65 hectares to feed a population of 1.3 billion people. As a matter of fact, agriculture in China, has contributed greatly to the reduction of poverty in the country. Statistics shows that the incidence poverty in China has dropped from 31 percent in 1978, to 200 percent in 2008.
Furthermore, China adopted the land reform policy known as the “Household Responsibility System”, a privately leased land use system. The major objective of this strategy was to boost the rural economy and increase farmers’ income so that farmers could have the incentive to work and produce more and production diversification could take place. The strategy bore fruit, and food production is greatly enhanced. Agricultural output grew at 7.7 percent annually.
The Chinese also put in place necessary institutions that ensured and enabled true classroom China created the R&D institute (Research & Development Institute) and universities focusing on agricultural innovations. They discovered and implemented new models for seed, fertilizers, and hydraulics. Technology into played a crucial role in the Chinese’s agricultural development. It helped China improve their efficiency of production and maintain sustainable agricultural development.
Today, China is the world’s largest producer of agricultural products. Their primary produce induces rice, millet, potatoes, sorghum, peanuts, tea, fish cotton wheat, perk, barley, and oilseed. China’s agricultural sector employs over 300 million farmers and produces food capable of feeding 20 percent of the world population.
There are necessary lessons Nigeria need to learn, but first agriculture needs to be given its rightful place as the mainstay of the economy; agriculture needs to be made as a top priority in the country. And in addition, there must be proper administration, void of corruption and misappropriate of funds and the budgetary allocation to agricultural must be substantially increased. It is time for a change; it is time for a revolution.