Agriculture: A Panacea to Poverty in Nigeria
This paper focused on investigating the causes of poverty inNigeria and the contribution of the agricultural sector to economic growth and poverty reduction in the country. The specific objectives of the paper are: to highlight the implication of Nigeria’s population on poverty, to examine the causes of persistent poverty, to ascertain the benefit of the Great Green Wall (GGW) project in Nigeria and identify the relationship of agricultural sector and poverty reduction and suggest the way forward. The causes of poverty in Nigeria include income inequality, long-term ethnic conflict and civil unrest, political instability and corruption, neglect of rural infrastructure, environmental problems, wrong economic orientation, rapid increase in population, over-dependence on oil exports, macroeconomic shocks and policy failure and burden of debt. The agricultural sector has contributed positively and consistently to economic growth and poverty reduction in Nigeria. The GGW project was earlier incorporated into the Nigeria’s vision 2020 with the sole aim of diversifying Nigeria’s economy from over dependence on oil to agriculture and creating an enabling and sustainable environment for the purpose of checkmating desert encroachment and global warming. The GGW project is to enhance the economic transformation of the nation and improve the livelihoods of citizenry which requires that the risk and vulnerability in the drought and desert encroaching States are addressed. The idea is that the project will principally check not only the advancement of desertification but also erosion as well as restore ecobalance and create sustainable jobs for thousands of our youths who are without jobs. The contribution of agriculture is examined through the roles of the sector in the economy, which can be summarized in five inter-sectoral linkages - food, labour, market, domestic savings and foreign exchange. The most basic of these roles is, perhaps the supply of food for both domestic consumption and export. The sector requires further attention based on available potentials relative to its past contributions. The paper makes the following recommendations on the way forward: The country should be part of the biggest exporters of a variety of products; agriculture should be tailored to provide tons of food, jobs and raw materials for other sectors of the economy, more intervention by Government in investing in basic infrastructures such as roads, and electricity.The timely and sustainable funding of the GGW project will help control the desert encroachment as well as creating jobs for youth and women in Nigeria.
Key words - Agriculture, Panacea, Poverty, Economic Growth, Nigeria.