Friday, August 07, 2009

Nigeria Suffers from Unreliable Agriculture Output

Nigeria has some of Africa’s largest oil reserves and some of the nation’s most productive land, but the 140 million people of Nigeria suffer from hunger due to unreliable agriculture output.

According to David Hecht’s recent article in the Washington Post, Nigeria used to be a major agricultural exporter until oil was discovered off its coast in the 1970s. But as it rose to the world’s eighth-largest oil producing country, Nigeria’s large farms and plantations were overlooked. Today, according to the World Bank, around 90 percent of Nigeria’s agricultural output comes from unproductive small farms where most farmers have little or no access to fertilizers, irrigation or other modern technology. Many of these farmers don’t even produce enough food to feed their families.

Although the country has grown to be one of the world’s most important importers of food staples such as rice and wheat, about 39 percent of Nigerians younger than 5 suffer from moderate or severe malnutrition, according to UNICEF, while 65 percent of the population, around 91 million people, are considered “food insecure.” They may wake up one morning to discover that they have nothing to eat.

The good news is that Nigeria has endless agricultural potential. With its 3.14 million irrigable hectares of land, the World Bank reports that Nigeria is only currently using 7 percent of it. While large areas of farmland have turned into desert, more than half of the remaining hectares of arable land currently lie fallow.

-- Jaimie Hwang

Read more about Nigeria's food crisis here.

Source: Washington Post