mechanized agriculture in Nigeria at what cost?

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mechanized agriculture in Nigeria

Many Nigerian politicians and foreign advisers continuously emphasize the importance of agriculture in national economic rebirth. Though they insist that Nigeria has vast fertile lands and manpower for agriculture, their relatives work in NNPC,[1] CBN[2] and Defence. The success in global agriculture is attributed to the improvement of tools and methods used for agriculture.[3] History of agricultural tools progressed from sticks, stones, bones, machetes and hoes, to modern and mechanized motor-equipment like tractors and harvesters.[4] The current rise in the proposal for mechanized agriculture in Nigeria seem wonderful, but fails to address its costs and realities.

Agriculture is the cultivation and breeding of animals, plants and fungi for food, fiber, biofuel, medicinal plants and other products used to sustain and enhance human life.[5] Agriculture is not new to mankind, and will never get old, as humans are still in flesh and blood. Food, clothes, leather, herbs, timber, rubber, household utilities, chemicals and many other industrial materials are sourced from agriculture, therefore, requires improvement. The ability to improve the tools and methods of agriculture determines the success rate of agricultural venture in any society. Presently, there are improved methods like selective husbandry, soil-testing, profiling and treatment, seed-modification, artificial irrigation, crop-rotation, and other methods for harvesting more on smaller spaces.

“Mechanization of agriculture and farming process connotes application of machine power to work on land, usually performed by bullocks, horses and other drought animals or by human labour.”[6] Mechanized agriculture allows lesser number of farmers to cultivate more products on expanses of land within shorter periods. By increasing productivity of agricultural produce, mechanization makes agriculture a lucrative venture for farmers. Successful farmers adopt mechanized systems for processing their crude farm-produce in order to increase their value and price before trading.

Major elements of mechanization involve the use of specially-adapted vehicles and machineries like tractors, sprayers, harvesters, all-terrain-vehicles, planters and other technological equipment.[7] There are other machines for extracting and processing crude agricultural products into refined forms for consumption or trade. All these machineries are produced and powered from several mineral resources like iron ore, rubber and crude oil. The production and powering of these machineries require training of engineers, and access to mineral resources.

Nigerian ethnic communities have sufficient mineral resources, as well as brilliant people for learning and producing farm machineries. Unfortunately, both the resources for producing machines, and the education for tool-production and modern farm-management are not guaranteed in Nigeria.[8] Instead Nigerian government occasionally award contracts – allegedly inflated – for importing insufficient farm machineries.[9] These insufficient machineries quickly get overused, faulty and/or abandoned in demand for another imported farm machinery. Yet, the policies denying people access to resources for local production of machineries and energy are sustained by the Nigerian government.

Nigeria’s imposed constitution insists that “government shall… provide free primary, university education and free adult literacy program… when practicable[10] Second, the Nigerian Mineral and Mining Act insists that…


“… all lands in which minerals have been found in Nigeria and any area covered by its territorial waters or constituency and the Exclusive Economic Zone shall, from the commencement of this Act be acquired by the Government of the Federation…”[11] “No person shall search for or exploit mineral resources in Nigeria or divert or impound any water for the purpose of mining except as provided in this Act.[12]The property in mineral resources shall pass from the Government to the person by whom the mineral resources are lawfully WON, upon their recovery in accordance with this Act.”[13]

The agricultural money-miracle preached by Nigerian government is not self-evident, as there are many wretched farmers in Nigeria.  Many of the local or prospective farmers cannot afford the machinery nor the education for mechanized agriculture in Nigeria. It thus appears that those who succeed are people with access to imported machinery and waivers for mechanized agriculture in Nigeria. Unless Nigerians begin to produce their own machines, those village boys breaking their waists as they jerk hoes and digger may die without reasonable success.

What is the cost of establishing a true and independent mechanized agriculture in Nigeria? Will Nigerian farmers continue to depend on Forex fluctuations for purchasing fuel and machinery for their mechanized agriculture in Nigeria? Will the citizens retrieve access to their mineral resources to produce the machinery and energy required for their mechanized agriculture in Nigeria? Will the Nigerians’ retrieval of access to their mineral resources encourage more mechanical and industrial production in Nigeria?


The restriction of access to mineral resources for producing agricultural tools in Nigeria is like a leg-cuff on an athlete’s legs. You urge the athlete to run fast like others, yet you cuff his legs so that he is unable to run. Nigerians are encouraged to move into agriculture with full force, but are denied access to their mineral resources for producing modern tools for successful agriculture. A society does not progress just by jumping into agriculture, but by producing and using better tools and methods for agriculture and other endeavours.

Agriculture, as propagated by Nigerian politicians may not be the cure for modern unemployment in Nigeria. Everybody must not go into full-time mechanized agriculture in Nigeria. However, those who are interested in venturing into mechanized agriculture in Nigeria deserve access to affordable machineries and fuel-energy. But as long as machinery and energy are imported at exorbitant prices, instead of produced locally, farming may not reach its excellence in Nigeria.


[1] Nigerian National Petroleum Commission, Appointments in NNPC: Ohanaeze, Afenifere, PANDEF, senators, others kick retrieved 08 October 2017

[2] Nicholas Ibekwe, Central Bank of Nigeria recruitment scandal, retrieved 08 October 2017

[3] Modern machines in Agriculture, retrieved 06 October 2017

[4] Growing a nation, retrieved 08 October 2017

[5] Safety and health in agriculture. International Labour Organization. 1999. pp. 77–. ISBN 978-92-2-111517-5. Retrieved 13 September 2010.

[6] Dr. Bhattacharjee, in Mechanization of Agriculture: Meaning, Benefits and Progress, shared by Harsh Aditya, Retrieved 08 October 2017

[7] List of farm machinery in agriculture. retrieved on 08 October 2017

[8] Chukwunwike Enekwechi, Nigeria does not want your education, 08 October 2017

[9] Francis Ogbimi, solution to mass unemployment in Nigeria. (Ile-Ife: OAU Press, 2007). P35

[10] Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 2011 as amended, Section 18, subsection 3, paragraphs i, ii, iii

[11] Nigerian minerals and mining act 2007 act no. 20, chapter 1, Part 1, Section 1, paragraph 2

[12] Nigerian minerals and mining act 2007 act no. 20, chapter 1, Part 1, Section 2, paragraph 1

[13] Nigerian minerals and mining act 2007 act no. 20, chapter 1, Part 1, Section 1, paragraph 3