REDUCING UNEMPLOYMENT RATE IN NIGERIA THROUGH AGRICULTURAL DEVELOPMENT…
1.1 Background of the Study
In the colonial Nigeria, agriculture occupies a centre stage in economic activities. At independence, in the decade of the 1960s, the sector continued to enjoy this status and was seen as the mainstay of the economy as the objective of the first development plan (1962-1968) showed, therefore, the contribution of the agricultural sector during this decade to Gross domestic product (GDP) range from 561%, 61.222%, 66.77% and 63.4% from 1960-1967 (Ayaoli, 1998:123). However, the contribution drastically declined in the 1970 because of the oil boom and negligence of the agricultural sector.
This resulted in rural-urban migration, shortage of agricultural manpower and stagnation of the sector. The oil money provided the needed finances to post-war reconstruction, rehabilitation and reconciliation. Hence, government was not interested in the contribution of agriculture to GDP. Efforts of the three regions (reconstruction, rehabilitation and reconciliation) were concentrated mostly on the urban centres leaving the rural area without facilities. Modern agricultural production requires basic facilities like good roads, electricity, water, telecommunication system, schools and hospitals. But the fact remains that real agricultural activities take place in the rural areas, not urban centres where facilities are concentrated. Radan (2011:23) in his presentation of balance Growth Theory argues that “There is minimum levels of resources that must be devoted of agricultural development programmes for it to have any chance of success”.
However, government failed to provide the necessary facilities that would have enhanced the growth of the sector. The rural urban drift, stagnation of the sector and huge import bills were the results. This was because agriculture as a profession did not offer the farming population what Maslows (1954) refers as to self-esteem and real actualization which were imaginary or real as other sector in the urban center.
Dwindling oil price in the second half of the 1970’s forced the government to re-think on direction of agricultural sector. The effort and purpose was to improve the sector to reclaim lost pride GDP and reduce the excessive reliance on petroleum. The effort ranged from direct production through establishment of state farms to play supportive role like provision of inputs, research and many others like Fadama 111 today. Now the federal government is mainly concerned with planning while other activities are shifted to the state and local government.
From 1976, onwards a lot of policies and programmes have been embarked upon to step-up agricultural production. Ogbuagu, (1998:95) records some of the major ones as operation feed the nation (OFN); Agricultural Development Projects (ADPs); River Basin Development Authorities (RBDAs), The Green Revolution (GR); The Directorate of Food, Roads and Rural Infrastructure (DFRRI); The National Accelerated Food Production Programme (NAFPP); Research Institutes, National Directorate for Employment (NDE); Nation Agricultural Land development Authority (NALDA); provision of inputs like fertilizer, insecticide etcetera at subsidized rates.
However, Inyang (1995:55) observed that few of the policies performed below expectation. Some of the reasons advance for this is low level success include the following: shortage of qualified and experience manpower, inadequate supply of input and other extension services. Others are land ownership, diseases and pest, labour shortage in the rural areas, poor technology, credit and marketing facilities and weather, implementing bottlenecks to outright fraud. All of the above mentioned factors affects the implementation of agricultural policies in Nigeria.
The agricultural sector prior to the creation of the state was regarded as traditional occupation and like other vocations had to go through evaluation. In Akwa Ibom State, data from Akwa Ibom State socioeconomic study report 2012, shows that a very high proportion (89.21%) of the employed are located in rural areas and that out of this 60% are self employed of which 30% male, 43% female are farmers. From these statistics, farming engages or creates jobs and income from the highest member of persons in the state. This high percentage engaged in farming show corresponding high level of agricultural development in the state.
Therefore, with the creation of the state, the main trust of Akwa Ibom State Government as implemented by the State Ministry of Agriculture was to cause a questionable annual growth in the production and marketing cash crops, staple food, livestock and fisheries production through institutional and infrastructural empowerment of the private, small, medium and large scale enterprise, crop and livestock, farmers fishers, folks, extension advice, technical assistance and agricultural inputs such as plating materials, breeding animals, fish fingerings, fertilizers and agro-chemicals. It also includes a systematic approach to achieving food security and agricultural investments through equity participation by public private partnership and with a vision to create wealth and reduce unemployment thereby reducing poverty and generate employment for a teeming population.
In attempt to reposition the agricultural sector in the state, government has embarked on various programmes to renew the greater interest in agriculture in the face of dwindling fortune of crude oil in Nigeria as a whole and Akwa Ibom State in particular.
These programmes include: accelerated livestock and fish production, expanded programmes integrated farmers’ schemes, Akwa Ibom State Food Reserve Programme, Akwa Ibom Land Consolidation and Management Scheme, Commercial Agricultural Development Programme, Farm Tractors and implementation and support for externally funded programmes. Others are fertilizer procurement and distrivution, Akwa Ibom State Agricultural Development Programme, the State Central Abattoir and Akwa Ibom State Meat Hygiene/Van Project. The objectives of these programmes are to generate employment opportunities and enhance capacity building with ultimate aims of increasing food production in the state and Nigeria as a whole.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
The agricultural sector in Akwa Ibom State has been a source of income generated avenue and sleeping stone to industrial take off. This agricultural statement is reflected by the basic objectives of the policy measures as shown by various developments and rolling plans:
(a) To ensure adequate food supplies for the population and raw materials for domestic industries.
(b) Create rural opportunities to stem unemployment and underemployment especially in the rural areas.
(c) Provide income for farmers.
(d) Enhanced foreign exchange earnings through increased experts of agricultural commodities.
(e) Encourage the adoption of appropriate technologies as a means of modernizing the agricultural sector (Ojo, 1999:56).
Agricultural products processing (Agro-processing) is a fact in the agriculture value chain that entails addition of value to agricultural commodities with the ultimate intention of increasing the economic value. Various governments of developing economics now adopt programmes which are formulated, taking much cognizance of value addition and marketing of farm outputs. In line with this development Ja’afar-Furo et al., (2011) stressed that developing countries that intend to rapidly transform their agriculture would have to massively embark on holistic food system which involves processing and clearly defined channels of appropriate marketing in order to provide sustainable avenues for income generation for the rural farmers, in Nigeria, several programmes have been fielded by the federal government in the past with the perfect hope that, specially, the rural farmers and the poor would immensely benefit from such laudable intention in terms of income generation. However, these could not yield much deserved results. For instance, Ugoh and Ukpene (2009) appropriately appraised the trend of policies on poverty alleviation programmes in Nigeria, highlighting both successes and weakness. The authors mentioned poor targeting mechanisms, failure to focus on the poor, programme inconsistencies, poor implementation and corruption as the major lapses, and concluded that the entire programmes where unable to involve the beneficiaries in the planning stages and implementations. From the Nigeria’s independence to date, the names are endless. These include, operation feed the nation (OFN), Green Revolution, Directorate of Food, Road and Infrastructure (DFFRI), Nigeria Agricultural Land Development Authority (NALDA) and presently, Fadama Programmes.
Of the three (3) phases of Fadama programmes Fadama 111 was established in order to address the inadequacies observed in Fadama 1 and 11. The major project objective is for the increment of their incomes through agro-processing and market accessibility in Akwa Ibom State and this in attempt will evaluate the performance of the project thereby achieving the laudable desire of Fadama 111 with a view of taking account of constraints that may serve as huddles towards attaining same.
1.3 Objectives of the Study
The study have the following objectives:
(1) To examine the ways of reducing unemployment rate in Nigeria through agricultural development.
(2) To identify ways of improving agricultural productivity in Nigeria.
(3) To access the extent to which government through Fadama 111 has been able to implement fish production in Akwa Ibom State for reduction of unemployment.
(4) To assess the extent Fadama 111 with their output have been able to increase income for the state and country in general.
1.4 Research Questions
(1) What are the ways of reducing unemployment rate in Nigeria through agricultural development?
(2) How can the government agency capability be access in order to enhanced crop production for the reduction of unemployment in Akwa Ibom State?
(3) To what extent have governments gone in the implementation of fish production to reduce unemployment in Akwa Ibom State?
(4) To what extent have Fadama 111 with their output been able to increase income for the state?