Agricultural policies in Nigeria and why they failed

Agricultural policies in Nigeria and why they failed

In this article, we will examine the failure of agriculture policies in Nigeria from 1972-1985. We will learn how such factors as lack of proper policy formulation, implementation and evaluation led to policy failure in the agriculture sector in Nigeria. Let`s start.

Political Instability on Agricultural

Problems of Agriculture in Nigeria

Changes to Agriculture

As Nigerians are an agrarian nation, the history of agriculture in Nigeria can be considered as the history of the people. It is no wonder that agriculture served as the mainstay of the economy during the first decade after independence, and accounting for about 71% of Nigerian foreign exchange earnings. The first half of the 1960’s thus witnessed the era of the groundnut pyramids of the North, the palm-oil of the east, and the cocoa plantation of South-West Nigeria.

It should be noted that the Nigeria’s agriculture sector successes were achieved after independence mainly becuase of the legacies of British colonial rule. The administrative system coordinated by the governor general used an export driven policy system to produce raw materials for the export market in servicing British industries and European markets.

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Thus, mechanized agriculture was practiced for the aim of maintaining European interest, the Commonwealth, and British interest. During the years toward the end of the first decade after independence, it became clear that Nigeria’s government could not manage or cope with the Westminster bureaucratic structure bequeathed to it due to the absence and malfunction of necessary institutions. In addition, the civil war which began in July 1967 furthered a geometric decline in the problems of agricultural development in Nigeria.

Agricultural policies in Nigeria

Commercial farming does very little for the labour force

List of agricultural policies in Nigeria

There were made five agriculture policies in the period between 1972 and 1985. They include:

  1. National Accelerated Food Production Programme (NAFPP) 1972-1973,
  2. Operation Feed the Nation (OFN) 1976-1980,
  3. Green Revolution Programme (GRP) 1981-1983,
  4. Go Back to Land Programme 1983-1985,
  5. A restoration of the elements of NAFPP after the military coup in 1985.

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The policy goal of NAFPP was to make Nigeria self-sufficient in food production. Consequently, land reform and mass literacy policies were recommended for farmers. OFN was initiated by another regime. The policy goal of it was to increase food production on the premise that availability of cheap food would lead to a higher nutritional level which in its turn would affect national growth tremendously.

Commercial Farming

OFN lasted till another regime came. The policy goal of GRP had the dual purpose of curtailing food importation through boosting crop production, and promoting big mechanized farming.

By 1983, another military regime toppled the civilian government and subsequently introduced the ‘Go back to land’ programme which aimed at making farmers out of all Nigerians. Two years later, in 1985, another regime took over power through a coup and introduced the Directorate of Food, Roads, and Rural Infrastructure (DFRRI) to facilitate rural development.

Why did Agricultural policies fail in Nigeria?

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Agricultural policies in Nigeria

Reasons for the Failure of Agricultural Development Policies in Nigeria:

1. The absence of Involvement of all stakeholders: There should be a proper interaction between all stakeholders both at the time of planning and implementing national agricultural programmes in the country.

Agriculturists, researchers and more importantly the farmers/rural dwellers that are commonly ignored during planning and implementation of agricultural/rural development policies and programmes should all be taken on board since they are in a better position to identify the policies and programmes that will be tailored to the need of the farmers/masses.


The lack of full non-participation of these groups of stakeholders has led to the programmes failure, increased poverty, and inaccessibility of essential social features with dwindling economic success and failure of agriculture policies.

2. Weak agriculture development policies: agricultural policies should be specific and spelt out for the masses.

Also, a policy should have strategy, targets, goals, specific objectives and most importantly programmes or projects geared toward their accomplishment.

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3. The short duration of agriculture development policies: there should be continuity and perpetual implementation of agriculture development policies by the current and future administration for the impact of the policies to be felt in Nigeria economy.

4. The inconsistency of regional agriculture development policies with the national policies: new agriculture policies and programmes should be consistent, work in harmony and closely with state and national policies and programmes.

The good relationship and peaceful atmosphere will always ensure the success of agricultural policies, programme and consequent agricultural development.


5. Inadequate monitoring and evaluation of programmes: evaluation is purposely done to determine achievements of rural/agriculture development programmes vis-à-vis the set policy objectives.

Today we can state that the past national agricultural development policies/programmes have failed to improve the standard of living of millions Nigerian people and economic development of the country.

Local maize and poor nutrients produce disappointing crops

We have to avoid the mistakes enumerated here as they are responsible for the failure of agriculture development policies/programmes in Nigeria, to execute the goals of the sustainable economic and raise the importance of agriculture in Nigeria. Otherwise, every 'good policy' prescription designed for implementation will result in failure.

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