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Challenges small farmers face in Nigeria

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By Samuel Abimbola

Local farmers need more capital to invest in modern farming techniques.

More than 80% of Nigerian farmers are smallholder farmers, and they face many challenges that delay their ability to thrive and succeed in the agricultural sector. These challenges range from economic, social, environmental, and political factors. However, they also face many unrecognised challenges. One of the main challenges facing small rural producers in Nigeria is limited access to financing. Small farmers often need more capital to invest in modern farming techniques, equipment, and inputs. This limits their Productivity and profitability, as they cannot afford high-quality seeds, fertilisers, and Pesticides.

Limited access to credit also makes it difficult for smallholder farmers to expand their operations or invest in new technologies that could improve their yields. Other major challenges facing smallholder farmers are inadequate infrastructure, poor road networks, lack of storage facilities, and limited market access, which make it difficult for rural producers to transport their produce to buyers. This results in post-harvest losses and reduces farmers’ income from their crops. Unreliable Electricity supply restricts modern farming equipment and Irrigation systems, further limiting the productivity of smallholder farmers.

Rural producers deal with price fluctuations from global economic crises.

Farmers in Nigeria also face the fluctuating prices of their produce due to global economic crises. These rural producers need help to negotiate fair prices for their crops, often being forced to sell at lower rates due to various factors such as poor storage facilities and the presence of middlemen. This affects their income and discourages them from increasing production for human consumption. Also, they lack access to agrochemicals to combat pests and diseases on their farms. Pests contribute significantly to crop losses, poor storage, and cold chain logistics, resulting in significant food wastage, with more than 40% of farm produce failing to reach the final consumer.

Several organisations are actively working to support smallholder cultivators in Nigeria in overcoming the challenges they face. The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) is implementing projects to improve access to finance, promoting climate-smart agriculture, and enhancing market linkages for smallholder farmers. Also, Oxfam Nigeria collaborates with small-scale farmers to promote sustainable agriculture, enhance access to markets, and advocate for policies supporting small rural farmers’ rights and livelihoods. Through the collective efforts of these organisations, small agriculturalists are receiving the support they need to overcome challenges and build Sustainable Agricultural practices for a better future.

FG supports rural producers through various programs and insurance schemes.

The federal government is deeply committed to uplifting rural producers through various initiatives such as the Agricultural Development Programmes, Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP), Growth Enhancement Support Scheme, Fertilizer Subsidy Program, and National Agricultural Insurance Scheme. These programs aim to enhance farming practices, improve productivity, increase crop yields, and provide a safety net against unexpected circumstances by providing agricultural extension services, credit facilities, subsidised inputs, and insurance coverage. Through these efforts, the government is promoting sustainable agricultural development and improving the livelihoods of smallholder rural producers across the country.

President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has recently pledged a new era in Nigeria’s Agriculture sector to enhance Food Security and diversify the Economy from Petroleum dependence. He stated agriculture’s potential as a key economic driver and tool for tackling unemployment, hunger, and Poverty. He emphasises the importance of agricultural extension in delivering improved technologies and inputs to farmers, citing the launch of Nigeria’s first Harmonised Extension Manual and National Agricultural Extension Policy by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security as steps to strengthen extension services in the country.

Related Article: Smallholder farmers face severe challenges

Lastly, investing in research and development for innovative farming techniques, training and Education for smallholder farmers, and promoting market linkages can also help address their challenges. Nigeria can utilise the agricultural sector’s potential and help alleviate poverty in rural communities by creating a conducive environment for small-scale farmers to thrive. The government, private sector, and development partners must work together to support smallholder farmers and ensure their sustainable growth and success in the agricultural sector nationwide.


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