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The reversal of the fortunes of the Nigerian economy from sole dependence on oil exports to a more diversified economy where agriculture plays the leading role has become not just necessary but mandatory. This is more so in the light of the sharp drop in oil price in the international market coupled with the depressed demand for this cheap oil because of recent oil discoveries in many parts of the world especially in Africa. Agricultural imports in the country reached an all-time high in the year 2011 when Nigeria’s food imports bill rose to N 1.1 trillion (about one-quarter of the country’s annual budget. Concerted efforts by the immediate past Government of President Goodluck Jonathan spearheaded by the erstwhile Minister for Agriculture, Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina yielded some positive results. This paper however looks into ways of achieving more, by moving beyond food security and food sufficiency to making Nigeria’s agriculture a major export earner’s and contributor to the annual GDPs. The main challenges were identified to include a criminal neglect of the agricultural sector as a whole by past administration; rapid population growth, defective agricultural policies and poor execution of such policy. To overcome these challenges, a holistic approach to agricultural development, research, extension services and use of improved technologies was advocated and outlined. Finally, appropriate policies to cater for main aspects of the agricultural sector that will encourage exports as well as strengthening of existing institutions were recommended.
Illustration Photo: Harvesting vitamin A cassava in Nigeria (credits: HarvestPlus / Flickr Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC 2.0))