Endowed with abundant land and water resources, Nigeria's agricultural sector has a high potential for growth. Its highly diversified agro-ecological conditions could allow production of a wide range of agricultural products including both tropical and more temperate products. Production of crop dominates other agricultural subsectors contributing about 85% to agricultural GDP, livestock production activities about 10%, fisheries 4%, and forestry production about 1%. Before the oil boom of the 1970s and 80s, Nigeria had a vibrant agriculture sector. The country was food self -sufficient and a key exporter of several agricultural commodities notably cocoa, oil palm, rubber and groundnuts. Excessive real exchange rate appreciation and overvaluation following the oil booms reduced agricultural competitiveness and incentives for investment in agriculture.
As agriculture declined, Nigeria became a significant food importer and agricultural exports all but disappeared. Currently, Nigerian agriculture is predominantly smallholder, subsistence based and weather dependent. The capacity of the agricultural research, extension and input distribution systems are weak and where available, modern technology cannot reach farmers. Most challenging are issues of high risk of agriculture related borrowing, reluctance by mainstream banks, inadequate qualified professional staff, corruption, wrong orientation of the applicants, and urban bias of the micro-finance institutions and paucity of economic opportunities in the country.
TDii established a platform for small holder farmers to facilitate access to finance, education, mechanization and extension services in Wamakko, Kebbe and Sokoto North local governments in Sokoto state. Known as Farmers court, the platform, which started with an initial number of 100 small holder farmers, grouped into 5 cooperatives, has over the period, grown to a 14000 member farmers’ cluster, comprising 700 cooperatives. Farmers were taught the basic processes of documentation in insurance, account opening and book keeping. In conjunction with MARKETS2, a DFID programme, TDii secured the services of extension officers to improve yield per hectare and improved marketing strategy.
FUNDED BY: TRANSPARENCY AND DEVELOPMENT INFORMATION INITIATIVE (TDii)