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Agriculture, no doubt plays a significant role in the economic development in Nigeria, agriculture, whether subsistence primitive or crude and mechanized is the foundation for National Development of any nation, Nigeria inclusive. It is because of the decisive role agriculture play in Nigeria that Nigerian government needs to do everything possible to ensure development of agriculture as a major sector of the economy.
Agriculture provide food for consumption for human and domestic animals in the country at large, it also provides foreign and domestic earnings in terms of income to the farmers and the government of a country, agriculture provide raw materials for local industries as well as foreign industries to the national government and international government, it also provide employment for teeming population and ensure food security of any nation that it is if it is the main stay of the economy.
With these roles that agriculture play, the government of Nigeria need to take the following steps to ensure that it is put on its rightful place for sound footing. The steps include among other things:
Adequate funding of the sector, provision of storage facilities, provisions of good roads network down to the rural areas or interior part of the countries where farming activities is the main occupation, provision of agricultural inputs such as fertilizer, improved seedlings, provisions of agricultural equipments such as tractors, combine harvesters, herbicides, wapsack etc to the farmers if not for free or at a subsidize rate to the farmers. Farm settlement schemes and agricultural marketing board should be taken as priority by the government of Nigeria. The government should also take a step in construction of dams for irrigation farming where applicable. Effective legislation to integrate the rural communities or the grassroot will serve as impetus to the development of agriculture as a major sector of the economy.
1.2 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Otukpo Local Government Areas (LGA) is one of the oldest local government areas in Benue State of Nigeria, and also the traditional headquarters of the Idoma nation where its paramount chief “The Ochidoma” has his palace.
Otukpo Local Government came into existence in 1923 with her headquarter at Otukpo town. It then comprises twenty-two (22) districts and was known as “Idoma Native Authority”. However, with the Local Government Reform of 1976 and subsequent local government creation and other reform exercise, the present Otukpo Local Government now has thirteen (13) council wards. It has a land mass of3905 Sq.km and a population estimated to be 190,457. Otukpo is centrally located between the Tiv in Bnue state and the Igala areas of Kogi State. On its northern border, Otukpo is bounded by Apa Local Government Area. Ohimini Local Government Area in the South East, Ado Local Government Area in the South and Olamaboro Local Government Area in Kogi state in the West.
Presently, Otukpo Local Government comprises four (4) districts namely; Otukpo, Adoka, Ugboju and Akpa respectively.
The people of Otukpo are predominantly farmers (peasant) growing different types of food crops. The people of Adoka and Ugboju and Akpa are known for commercial farming especially rice, yam and cassava production. Other agricultural items grown in the local government include guinea corn, maize, soya beans, millet, pepper, beneseed etc.
Although the economic of the local government area is heavily dependent on agriculture, few people engaged in petty trading and other commercial activities.
Resident of Otukpo town are predominantly Christians and Muslims but unlike other part of Nigeria, followers of the two religion have lived together in peace hence the reputation of Otukpo town as a peaceful and friendly place to live.
Currently, Otukpo Local Government area has six (6) functional commercial banks operating in the areas. These are: The First Bank, Zenith Bank, Access Bank, Eco Bank, Unity Bank, United Bank for Africa (UBA). Also there is Micro-Finance Bank in Ugboju District.
Otukpo town is mainly inhabited by civil servants. It is also a vibrant commercial town. The main market attracts huge numbers of Traders and visitors from neighbouring towns and villages on a daily basis. Other commercial activities in the town include cottage sandal making industries, a rice mill considered to be the largest in West Africa, restaurants and bars.
Consequently, following an annual rain cycle farmers cultivate yam which was, and is still the stable food crop, cocoa yam, water yam, sweet potatoes, guinea corn, millet, beans, banbara nuts, cowpea etc are some of the major crops produced in large quantity in Otukpo Local Government Area of Benue State of Nigeria.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
Agriculture, no doubt contribute immensely to economic development of any nation including Nigeria.
For meaningful and sustainable development to take place in any nation, agriculture should be given the attention it deserves, because a nation with effective agricultural policy will have food security.
Agriculture provides food for local consumption, agriculture provides a means for foreign exchange for the country, agriculture provides raw materials for local industries as well as foreign industries, agriculture provides employment opportunities for the teeming population of the country, it also provides food security. These is the position of agriculture in a nation with effective agricultural policy.
It is evident, that agriculture in Nigeria suffer neglect in the hand of government in recent years, due to corruption and lack of zeal for national development or economic development in Nigeria.
Recently, the 2013 Annual National Budget indicate that, agriculture has the least allocation at about 80 billion Naira only, amount which is not even enough to purchase fertilizer for at about 80% population engaged in agriculture.
Some of the questions begging for an answer with regards to low agricultural performance in Nigeria today which have a negative effect on the economy are:
a) Is it poor financial allocation by the Government at all level?
b) Is it lack of or absence of farm inputs?
c) Is it lack of or inadequate improve seedlings?
d) Is it lack of or inadequate storage facilities?
e) Is it absence of good road network linking the rural communities where agriculture is mostly practiced?
f) Is it lack of or inflexible credit facilities?
g) Is it absence of market?
1.3 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The major objective of this study is to know the role of agriculture in the economic development in Nigeria.
a) To assess the role of government in agricultural development
b) To examine the role of agriculture in industrial development
c) To appreciate the role of agriculture in employment generation.
d) To identify solution to agricultural problems in Nigeria.
1.4 SIGNIFICANT OF THE STUDY
This study is significant because it will look at the role of agriculture in economic development in Nigeria.
It is significant to the government, a critical view of the importance of agriculture with regards to employment generation and provision of food for local consumption. These will propel the government to take a bold step in transforming the agricultural sector of the economy.
The study is of importance to student in institution of higher learning and colleges because it will serve as a basis in which other project could e built upon.
The study is of importance to the farmers both the peasant and the commercial farmers, because it will create the necessary awareness to them to champion their course and sponsor bills to the National Assembly and States House of Assembly to allocate more funds to the sectors.
This study is significant to the industrialists and entrepreneurs. This is because it is a known fact that availability of raw materials determine the citing of industries.
The study is significant to government at all level most especially the government at the grass root level because with proper agricultural development, rural-urban migration will be reduced to the bearest minimum.
This research work has the following hypotheses: Ho: represents positive hypotheses, Hi : represents negative hypotheses.
Ho(i): That agriculture play a major role in economic development
(ii) Improved seedling is related to good and bumper harvest
(iii) That effective government policy on agriculture is related to economic development
(iv) Availability of farm implements is related to mechanized agriculture
(v) Mechanized agriculture is related to food security
(vi) Availability of good road network is a boost to agriculture.
Hi(i) Assess to market is not related to agricultural development
(ii) Good road network is not related to agricultural development
(iii) The role of agriculture has no impact on economic development in Nigeria.
1.6 SCOPE AND LIMITATION OF THE STUDY
The scope of the study is the role of agriculture in economic development in Nigeria. The reasons for this scope is the perennial food shortages and food importation to Nigeria from neighbouring African countries, unemployment biting Nigerian masses enable the researcher to limit my scope to the role of agriculture in the economic development.
Some of the areas of limitation in the course of this research work include the following:
a) Inability to extract accurate data from the farmers in the interior part of Otukpo. This is related to the fact that most of the farmers are illiterate who do not understand the problems confronting them.
b) Fear of the farmers of giving the necessary information. This is because those that are a bit literate among them do not understand what it means to undertake such a research work.
c) The fear of being tax by the government or punished by the government representatives at the grass root hinder them of giving a complete state of things in their areas.
1.7 DEFINITION OF KEY TERMS
Agriculture: Activities engaged by men for the production of food and rearing of animals for man use.
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