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1.1Background to the Study

According to Economic Research Service (ERS 1991), the United State Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service listed out the following objectives as their rural development priorities; Reduction of the rural/urban gap in material living standard, Reduction of persistent high rural poverty rates, Improved socio- economic viability of vulnerable rural communities, Presentation of rural area’s unique culture and natural character, Survival of family-based farming, fishing and other natural resource-based enterprises, Enhanced rural contributions to the national “well being”, and Resource conservation and environmental protection.

According to the Rural Development Strategy (1995) of the government of national unity, the South African government set out a vision for the next twenty-five years (25), envisaging that by the years 2020 in the South African countryside; it would like to see freedom from poverty, much access by rural people to government support and information, and to commercial services, with a more logical spatial network of towns, services and roads and transport system, close availability to water and sanitation and fuel sources, giving everyone more time and more health for economic productivity, Local Government structures to which everyone has easy access, and within which women play an equal and active role, close links of local government with organs of civil society and business through which express the needs and priorities of different group of rural people, dignity, safety and security of access for all, including women to useful employment, housing, and land, with people able to have control over their society, community and personal lives, and to plan for the future, fewer, healthier, safe, well-nourished children, with access to wellresourced schools and a healthy and productive environment capable of sustaining the biological components upon which the many agricultural, social and cultural activities depend.

In Nigeria, successive government have come forth with various rural development strategies, for example, the establishment of the Nigeria Agricultural Cooperative and Rural Development Bank, the various State Agricultural Development Projects, River Basin Development Authority, Development of Local Government administrative systems are among similar rural development initiatives embarked upon by the government to facilitate the development of rural economy. Most recent of these is the foreign loan secured by the government for the development of rural/agrarian areas of the country. The funds are expected to be particularly used for the downstream value addition activities of processing, storage and marketing. The Fadama Development Project as this new initiative is know, seeks to integrate the aspirations of all Fadama resources users such as pastoralists, crop farmer, hunters, gatherers, fishermen, fish breeders, women, youth, marginalized and other vulnerable groups. To achieve this aim, the project is designed with a focus on a community-driven development with maximum participation of stakeholders at every stage of their project cycle.

The thrust of the SDGs is on the sustainable utilization of the resources of nature as a basis for the sustenance of the current tempo of development without compromising the needs of future generations. Therefore, the adult populace especially the illiterates whose daily survival depends on natural resources must be urgently equipped with basic forms of knowledge and skills relevant to the judicious use of the resources of the environment to ensure the successful attainment of the SDGs within the set time frame of 2030.

1.2 Statement of the Problem

It has been observed that changes in the integrated approach to social, economic and environmental issues have not really facilitated the developmental goals in Nigeria. For instance, problems such as poverty, flooding, ethnicity, environmental pollution corruption, attitudes and lopsided income distribution have been on the increase. A cursory look at the poverty profile in Nigeria showed that in 2004, Nigeria’s relative poverty measurement stood at 54.4%, but increased to 69% in 2010. In absolute terms, 54.7% of Nigerians were living in poverty in 2004 but this increased to 60.9% (National Bureau of Statistics, 2010). Besides these in the early 1990s Nigerian cities experienced flood hazards have more than doubled in the last ten years (Odermeho, 1993). While in recent times, it was recorded that Nigeria experienced the worst flooding as at the year 2012.

 In view of these challenges, it should be recalled that in the year 2000, the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were adopted by 189 member countries of the United Nations including Nigeria. This was with a view to fast track key developmental issues in Nigeria which include increasing the availability of basic life sustaining goods, raising the standard of people’s living as well as expanding the range of economic and social choices. A set of eight goals to be achieved by 2015 was adopted by the United Nations which were to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger; achieve universal primary education; promote gender equality and empower women; reduce child mortality; improve maternal health; combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases; ensure environmental sustainability; and develop a global partnership for development (Todaro and Smith, 2011)

According to Manyong et al. (2005) Nigeria is endowed with a large deposit of agricultural resources and huge arable land for the cultivation of crops and rearing of animals. In the 1960s and 1970s the agricultural sector was constituting over 65 percent of total export. The Nigerian agricultural sector was renowned for the export of cash crops (agricultural crops and produce with export value) namely cocoa, rubber, hides and skin, groundnut palm among a host of many others which was supported by the rural economy in Nigeria. The rural economy holds an enormous potential for the growth and economic development of the country.

 In a similar study carried out by (Bekun, 2011) titled Economics of Yam Marketing in Minna, Nigeria. The study reveals that over 31.5 million metric tons of yams was produced in the study areas overwhelmingly huge, enough to engage more than half of the population in the study area.  Regardless of vast potentials the rural economy possesses, the industry endowment has not been fully harnessed. There has been a downturn in the late 1970s and figures have dropped significantly to 20 percent at the end of the 1990s. The decline in the rural economy‟ contribution is explained by the oil boom in the late 1970s.  The 1970s outlined the period when oil was discovered in commercial quantity. This discovery has led to the neglect of the agricultural sector and more focus on the petroleum sector (energy sector). The sole dependence on oil (energy sector) turned Nigeria into a monoculture economy.

With the rural agriculture being so productive with arguably massive potential, why then has it been neglected?  The answer to this question prompts the motivation for this study.  Recent literature is attempting to estimate the relationship between the agricultural sector and economic growth, do so using cross-sectional data.  We argue that this methodology is flawed in the sense that the relationship between the rural economy and sustainable development goals is best captured over time.  Given the so few studies done using time-series data, there is a gap in explaining the real effect of the rural economy on sustainable development goals in Nigeria.  This gap is what this study aims to fill.

1.3 Objective of the Study

The primary purpose of this study is to investigate the impact of rural economy on the Nigeria sustainable development goals.

1.                  To find out the inconsistencies in the rural economy contribution to sustainable development goals in Nigeria.

2.                  To determine the long-run relationship among rural economy and the Nigerian economy as a whole.

3.       To examine the various challenges facing the development of the rural economy in Nigeria.

1.4 Research Questions

 The research aim to answer the following

pertinent questions:

1.              Why are there inconsistencies in the rural economy contribution to sustainable development goals in Nigeria?

2.              Is there any long-run relationship among rural economy and the Nigerian economy as a whole?

3.                  What are the various challenges facing the development of the rural economy in Nigeria?

1.5 Significance of the study

The study will be of immense benefit to the Nigeria government to help understand the essence of the rural economy contribution to the Nigeria sustainable development goals with emphasis laid on agricultural productivity and to also bring out possible solutions to agricultural problems in Nigeria especially in rural areas.

Since the study lack empirical literature review, the study will add to existing scope of knowledge which will also serve as reference point to researchers in the field of agriculture, economics and development.

1.6 Scope of the Study

The study aimed at finding the role of rural economy in sustainable development goals in Nigeria. The rural economy in this context involves all productive activities carried out in rural areas in Nigeria but for the sake of this study, Agriculture activities which is a major productive activity in the rural areas will be consider, this will be used to measure rural economy.

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