December 3, 2021

EDUCATIONAL MAGAZINE

Knowledge is power

PROBLEMS AND SOLUTIONS OF AGRICULTURAL DEVELOPMENT IN WEST AFRICA

10 min read

Many developing countries in West Africa including Nigeria are faced with numerous problems which militate against the development of agriculture. Some of these problems are:

(1) Inadequate Land or Land Tenure System

Land cannot be pledged, sold or used as collateral by an individual.
Those with means, but who are not members of the community, find it difficult to get land for farming activities. That is, non-indigenes of the community cannot acquire land or have access to it.
There is tendency to neglect parcels of useful land as no one readily considers it his/her interest to protect it from degradation.
It is characterized by litigations and misunderstanding.
Mechanized farming cannot be practised without permission of the whole community.
There is excessive land fragmentation over time.
Allotted land can be revoked by new leadership.
It does not encourage planting of permanent crops.

Solutions

Fertilizers and manure should be used to increase production of crops in the available land.
Crop rotation should be practised by farmers.
The Land Use Decree of 1978 should be fully implemented to minimise the problems of land tenure.
Farmers should form co-operative societies for easy allocation of farm lands.

(2) Inadequate Finance or Credit Facilities

Most subsistence farmers are poor and do not have the finance to make the purchase of:

Land and agricultural tools and machinery;
Improved seeds, fertilizers and other chemicals;
Livestock, livestock feeds and drugs, materials for construction of farmstead or house.
Also, farmers have no access to loans or credit facilities to expand their farmland.
Farmers do not have the required collateral security to enable them to secure loans from banks.
High interest rate charged by banks at short repayable period prevents borrowing by farmers.
Farmers who get loans, at times, divert such loans to other purposes, such as chieftaincy and marriage ceremonies.

Solutions

Agricultural banks like Nigeria Agricultural and Co-operative Bank (N.A.C.B.) should make loans available to farmers.
Farmers should form co-operative societies for easy procurement of loan from commercial banks.
Banks should reduce their high interest rate to encourage borrowing.
Collateral security should be in form of guarantee rather than in material forms, like land and buildings.

(3) Poor Transportation Network

Presence of bad roads or total lack of it makes distribution of produce to market very difficult, and this leads to wastage.
Some roads may be rendered useless during the rainy season.
The number of vehicles are inadequate because of the high cost of vehicles, machinery and spare parts.
There is high cost of transportation due to bad roads and inadequate vehicles and other means of transportation.
Most farms in rural areas are not linked to roads, and this eventually leads to wastage of food.
High cost of transport increases farmers’ cost of production and produce prices.
Inadequate diversification of means of transportation of agricultural products, e.g. inadequacy of rail network which is very essential for the transportation of agricultural goods.

Solutions

Construction of new feeder roads to open up the rural areas.
Construction of water ways to link up the riverine areas.
Construction of railways to connect rural areas to the urban centres.
Provision of vehicles, boats and trains to facilitate the distribution of farm products.
Reduction in transportation cost to make such affordable to the rural farmers.
Regular supply of fuel.
Rehabilitation of existing damaged roads.
Availability of spare parts at affordable prices.

(4) Inadequate Storage and Processing Facilities

Lots of produce are wasted due to inadequate storage and processing facilities.
Improper storage reduces the quantity and quality of farm produce.
Storage and processing facilities are expensive, leading to high cost of produce.
There is lack of technical know-how on food storage and processing.
Farm produce are sold off at cheap rate, leading to reduced income to the farmers.
Inadequate storage and processing facilities force farmers to produce just enough for their family and discourage them from large-scale farming.
Storage facilities like silos, rhumbus, cribs, barns and rafters are grossly inadequate.
Processing facilities like threshers, millers, graters, canning and sealing machines are also inadequate.
It may lead to scarcity of produce.

Solutions

Storage facilities should be provided by the government at subsidised rates.
More people should be trained on the technology of food storage and processing.
Government should buy excess produce and store for future use.
Provision of silos in the rural areas for storage of grains by government.
Farmers should be encouraged to construct cribs, barns and rhumbus for proper storage of farm produce after harvesting.
Provision of cold stores for perishable produce and livestock products.
Provision of processing facilities such as corn mill, cassava grater, rice mill and oil palm press to facilitate the processing of farm produce after harvesting so as to enhance storage.
Provision of storage chemicals such as fumigants.
Provision of loans/credit facilities to farmers.

(5) Inadequate Farm Inputs

Farm inputs like chemicals, fertilizers, tools and implements are grossly inadequate.
Available farm inputs are of inferior quality, outdated and crude.
Modern farm inputs are not produced in Nigeria. Rather, they are imported.
Farm inputs are expensive to purchase and maintain.
Farm inputs, even when they are available, are not supplied to the farmers at the right time.

Solutions

Farm inputs, like fertilizers, pesticides, feeds and drugs, should be made available in adequate quantities to farmers.
Government should subsidise the cost of farm inputs.
Farm inputs should be supplied at the right time to farmers.
Local sourcing of these inputs should be encouraged.
Establishment of tractor-hiring unit at affordable costs to farmers.
Establishment of seed service for the production and distribution of improved seeds to farmers.

(6) Inadequate Basic Amenities

Lack of basic amenities like electricity, pipe-borne water and proper healthcare makes able-bodied men and youths migrate from rural to urban areas in search of jobs.
There is lack of electricity in many rural areas for farm operations.
Inadequate storage facilities for farm produce.
Poor processing facilities for farm produce.
Inadequate provision of potable water for domestic use.
There is shortage of water for irrigation purposes for all-season cropping.
Poor health-care services reduce the productivity of farmers.
There is also lack of recreational facilities in rural areas.

Solutions

Provision of electricity in the rural areas.
Provision of potable and drinkable water.
Provision of health-care centers in rural areas.
Provision of storage and processing facilities to rural farmers.
Establishment of dams to facilitate irrigation agriculture in rural areas.

(7) Poor Marketing System

There are no organised marketing channels for farm produce.
There is lack of proper pricing for agricultural produce.
The negative activities of middlemen worsen the marketing of agricultural produce.
Poor marketing of produce discourages more production by local farmers.
Absence of commodity boards to aid the purchase of farm produce.
There is also the problem of fluctuation in the price of agricultural produce.
Inadequate good roads and storage facilities.

Solutions

Government should buy excess produce from farmers.
Government should stabilise prices of farm produce in the country.
The activities of middlemen who buy produce at cheaper rates and sell at higher prices should be checked.
Commodity boards should be reestablished to help organise the marketing of agricultural produce.

See also  FOOD TESTS

(8) Inadequate Agricultural Education and Extension

Lack of improved/better farm management decision making.
Inability to procure improved farm inputs.
Lack of access to marketing information and strategy.
Inability to keep accurate farm records.
Absence of loans and their utilization.
Inability to improve the farmers’ social disposition.
Inability to help the farmers to understand and adopt modern farming techniques for improved productivity.
Lack of motivation for youths to take up farming as a profession.
Inability to relay farmers’ problems to government ministries, research institutes and universities.
Inability to convey information from government ministries, universities and research institutes to farmers.

Solutions

Mass literacy programme should be embarked upon by the government, e.g. nomadic education.
Rural farmers should be trained on modern systems of farming.
Adequate and qualified extension officers should be employed to teach peasant farmers new innovations and techniques in agriculture.

(9) Problems of Pests and Diseases

Pests and diseases reduce the yield of agricultural produce.
They also reduce the quality of the produce.
Pests and diseases also reduce the income of farmers.
Farmers are thereby discouraged from production.

Solutions

Insecticides and other chemicals used in the control of pests and diseases should be supplied at subsidised rates.
Pests and diseases control units or deparments should be established to control pests and diseases.
Farmers should be trained on easy identification, prevention and control of pests and diseases.

(10) Unpredictable Climate

Unpredictable climate generally discourages serious farming activities.
Low rainfall leads to poor harvest of crops.
Low sunshine intensity reduces the rate of photosynthesis which eventually leads to low yield.
High or too low temperature does not permit the normal growth of crops.

Solutions

Irrigation practices which is the artificial supply of water to farmland should be adopted in areas of low rainfall.
Water conservation techniques, such as mulching should be practised.
Planting of cover crops like centrosema spp, calopogonium spp should be practised, as it helps to conserve and prevent evaporation of water from the soil.
Teaching peasant farmers new innovations in agriculture.

(11) Inadequate Tools and Machinery

Farm tools and machinery like ploughs, harrows, tractors and planters are grossly inadequate.
Use of simple farm tools like cutlass and hoe leads to low agricultural production. That is, output per unit time is low.
Farm tools and implements are expensive to purchase and maintain.
Most of the implements are not produced in West Africa; rather, they are imported.
Inadequate personnel to repair damaged machinery.
Most local farmers are so poor that they cannot afford to buy farm tools and implements.
Most of the implements are not produced in West Africa; rather, they are imported.
Inadequate personnel to repair damaged machinery.
Most local farmers are so poor that they cannot afford to buy farm tools and implements.
Farmers lack the skilled manpower in the maintenance, repair and operation of sophisticated farm machines.
Working with poor tools and implements is very tedious and labour intensive.
Only small areas of land are cultivated. It is time-consuming.
The use of poor tools discourage people from going into agriculture.
It causes faster ageing in the farming population.

Solutions

Local fabrication of farm machinery and equipment should be encouraged by government to make farm implements suitable to local conditions and be made available to farmers.
Introduction and utilization of modern farm machines and implements.
Establishment of tractor-hiring units to make the machines readily available to poor farmers who cannot afford to purchase the expensive farm machines.
Training of skilled manpower in the maintenance, repair and operation of. sophisticated farm machines.
Provision of subsidies to enable farmers to purchase modern equipment and tools.
Provision of loans or credit facilities to farmers.
Farmers should form co-operative societies to enable them to pool their resources together and purchase farm implements and machines.
There should be importation of appropriate machines and implements.

(12) Inconsistent Government Policies on Agriculture

Inconsistent government policies on agriculture reduce agricultural development.
These policies fail to recognise the peasant farmers that produce food for the country.
Most of the agricultural programmes are centered on fake city farmers who only collect money and use them for other purposes.
Most of the farmers do not have access to farm inputs provided through such policies.
Bad implementation of these policies reduce agricultural development.

Solutions

Dynamic agricultural policies should be formulated and implemented.
The policies should recognise the true and genuine farmers.
Government should formulate policies that would allow private participation in agriculture.
All policies on agriculture should be properly implemented.

(13) Environmental Degradation

Desert encroachment exposes the soil to erosion.
Erosion renders the soil unpro-ductive and unsuitable for agriculture.
Oil spillage pollutes the fishing and drinking water and kills all the aquatic life, thus reducing the profit of the fishermen.
Drinking water for the farm family and their animals is polluted; thus exposing them to health risks.
Air pollution by toxic fumes from industrial gases reduces the quality of air available to the farm family and their animals.
Acid rains from air pollution cause soil acidity and destruction of crops.
Deforestation exposes the soil to erosion agents.
Overgrazing causes erosion and hard pans.
Bush burning damages the physical structure of the soil and reduces soil fertility.
Air pollution reduces photosynthesis and thus reduces yield.
Plant population for livestock consumption is reduced.

Solutions

Flooding should be avoided.
Soil erosion should be properly checked.
Cover cropping should be practised.
Terracing and strip cropping should also be practised.
Pollution and deforestation should be avoided.

(14) Rural – Urban Migration

It leads to scarcity of labourers, resulting to high labour cost.
High cost of labour therefore leads to high cost of production.
It leads to decreased food and cash crop production.
It leads to decreased animal production.
It leads to decrease in export and hence GDP (Gross Domestic Product).
It leads to poor adoption of agricultural innovations.

Solutions

Provision of social amenities in rural areas.
Provision of employment in rural areas.
Training of people on modern farming practices.
Provision of incentives to farmers in rural areas.
Provision of favourable prices for farm produce by the government.

REASONS WHY AGRICULTURE HAS NOT BEEN FULLY MECHANIZED IN NIGERIA

Small farm holding, land fragmentation or land tenure system does not permit mechanisation.
The farming systems currently practised do not encourage mechanisation.
There are no access roads for machines.
It is costly or expensive to hire machines and most farmers are poor.
High running costs for machinery discourages mechanization.
Heavy tree stumps left after land clearing hinder use of machinery.
Machines or implements are expensive to purchase.
Machines are costly to maintain.
Inadequate capital or credit facilities. Machine spare parts are not easily available.
There is low level of technical knowhow about machinery.
There is inadequate extension services or education for farmers.
Unfavourable soil terrain or topography prevents mechanization.
There is inadequate farm labourers or farm hands to enhance mechanization.
Poor market structures or system for agricultural produce discourage farmers from large scale production.

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