The difference between urban and rural development in Nigeria is significant despite the efforts of the country government. Regarding physical facilities, social opportunities, quality of living and overall score – rural area standards still stay very low in comparison with urban ones. Agriculture plays a major role in country development, but Nigerian rural area weakness creates drawbacks in the overall economic.
Rural development in Nigeria since independence responded actively to rapid urban expansion and rural-urban migration. Traditionally, Nigeria was a dominantly rural country. Even if city-types settlements existed in the North Yoruba in the past, an actual city like settlements was created along the coast as a response to retail trades with Europe.
It explains the emergence of port towns, like Calabar, Port Harcourt, and Lagos. The colonial government had difficult times in calculating the precise amount of Nigerian population at that time.
The 1963 National Census reported that over 80% of the national population were residing in the rural areas. In 1985 this proportion dropped to 70%. In 2005 the numbers dropped to 51%. Agriculture is the main sector of the economy for rural development. Still, due to poor development of physical facilities, Agriculture in Nigeria can`t reach its potential.
Rural Development in Nigeria since Independence
Since the 1960s, various governmental strategies were implemented into the development of the rural areas in Nigeria. Still, despite colossal amount of money invested and numerous professional agencies created – it has not provided much effect on the rural development. Each and every planning period of rural life in Nigeria remained unchanged since 1960.
The First National Development Plan 1962-1968 prioritized Agriculture as the main branch for the country`s development, but this plan provided only 42% of the capital budget to Agriculture. The Second National Development Plan 1970-1974 prioritized reduction of differences between rural and urban development, but the plan was only partially executed. The Third National Development Plan 1975-1980 implemented the “Integrated rural development” in the framework of the Agricultural Development Programmes sponsored by the World Bank.
Since the early 1970s, rural development has involved a strategy of improving rural and agricultural sectors of the economy. Some rural development was established by various agencies, the programs for National Development Plan can be broadly listed:
- Rural Water Supply Schemes
- River Basin Development Authorities
- Agricultural Development Programmes
- Rural Banking Schemes
- Rural Electrification Scheme
- Adult Education Scheme
- The Low-Cost Housing Scheme
- The Universal Primary Education Scheme
- Operation Feed the Nation
- Primary Health Care Programmes
- The National Accelerated Food Production Programme
- Accelerated Crop Production Scheme
- Pasture and Grazing Reserves
- Artesian Fishery and Small Ruminant Production Programme
- Research Programme
- National Agricultural Land and Development Agency
- National Orientation Agency
- Mass Mobilization for Social and Economic Reconstruction
- The Natural Better Life Rural Women Programme
- Health Schemes
- Transportation Schemes
- Credit Schemes
Since the early 1980s, there were a lot of national agencies included by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture:
- Family Economic Advancement Programme
- National Insurance Corporation of Nigeria
- National Agricultural Insurance Company
- Community Bank
- People`s Bank
- Flood and Soil Erosion Control Programme
- Federal Environmental Protection Agency
- Low-Cost Housing Estate Scheme
- Ferry Transport Schemes
- State Assisted Transport Schemes
- Federal Assisted Mass Transit Schemes
- Adult Support Basic Education Programme
- The Nomadic Fishermen Programme
- Disease Eradication Scheme
- The National Directorate of Employment
- The Directorate of Food, Roads and Rural Infrastructure
Review of Agricultural Economics Agencies
The National Accelerated Food Production Programme
The Federal Ministry of Agriculture created this agency in 1973. The primary goal of the agency was increasing staple food production through promotion of the small-scale farmers in rural areas of the country. The programme provided an effective research-based linkage and increased food production.
The River Basin Development Authorities
This programme was shown to the world in mid-1970s as result of the negations between the United Nations and the Food and Agricultural Organization. These authorities were created to deal with the use of water resources of rivers for agricultural and domestic purposes. The production was mainly concentrated around crops and fisheries.
In 1986, the authorities` functions were narrowed to monitoring of water resources. While some experts believe that the authorities provided some impact on the agricultural development of Nigeria, other suppose that they did not worth huge amount of funds channeled to them.
The Agricultural Development Projects
In 1972, the World Bank, the State Governments of North West and North Central together with the Federal Ministry of Agriculture started investigations for searching the best suitable lands for the Agricultural Development Projects. These investigations resulted in creating three enclaves for ADP, like in Gussau, Funta, and Gombe. Main objectives of ADPs were:
- Raise rural income
- Raise standard of living in rural areas
- Increase production
The success of these projects helped in the further establishment of 31 state wide ADPs in Nigeria. The program dominated in the 1980s and 1990s. It contributed to a major growth of agriculture in Nigeria.
The Operation "Feed the Nation"
This programme was introduced by the Federal Military Government in 1976 with a major idea to increase awareness about the importance of agriculture. The programme was designed to involve all the segments of the population. Students were also engaged in seasonal works during their long vacations.
The programme naturally ceased from living with the Federal Military Government Regime. The main problem of the Operation Feed the Nation was the unclear definition of its goals. Therefore, it`s hard to measure up the overall impact of the program on the rural development in Nigeria.
The Green Revolution Programme
The program was introduced during the reign of the Second Republic. The main idea was to accelerate Nigeria towards self-sufficiency in term of food production. The River Basin Development Authorities was used as the basis for the Green Revolution Programme.
One of the pioneering decisions for that time was granting of agricultural credits to the owner of small-scale businesses in rural areas. Still, the programme did not use its whole potential as it became a victim of Federal-controlled and State-controlled programmes discussion. It was heavily politicized and criticized. Therefore, it died with the exit of its founders.
The Agriculture Credit Guarantee Scheme
This programme was created and supported by the Central Bank of Nigeria. It provided guarantees to small commercial banks` loans taken by owners of small business if they used these loans for agricultural purposes. Therefore, the scheme created an Agricultural Credit Guarantee Fund supported by the Central Bank of Nigeria and the Federal Government.
This scheme dictated commercial banks to channel a minimum portion of their funds towards agricultural loans. The scheme was not successful as it was predicted. The main problem was a risk of granting loans to the owners of small-scale businesses in rural areas.
The Directorate of Food, Roads, and Rural Infrastructure
The Babangida`s Government established the programme in 1987. It stated that without proper governmental attention, institutional infrastructure, social help – it was pointless to expect the agricultural development of the country. The directive was to help rural communities in establishing necessary social, industrial and economics infrastructure.
It provided financial and technical support through the development stages of agricultural projects. The Directorate failed to show its whole potential in 1985-1993. In 1994 it became a department in the Ministry of Agriculture. The main functions of this unit were in the monitoring of the projects, rather than providing actual help.
The Directorate of Mass Mobilization for Social and Economic Reconstruction
The Directorate was created with the main objective of mobilizing human, agricultural and natural resources of Nigeria towards the recovery of political and social order in the country. In other words, it was created to mobilize, unify and utilize human resources for the transformation of the economy. The main branches included:
- Mass literacy
- Political education
- Social injustice
Despite drawbacks, the Directorate managed to make the impact in mobilizing of human resources in Nigeria. It was characterized with the development of social infrastructure, integrity, rational distribution of resources.
National Orientation Agency
This Agency was created in 1983 as a successor of the Directorate of Mass Mobilization for Social and Economic Reconstruction. Still, it was formally established in 1993 with its objectives:
- Encourage formal education
- Ensure Governmental programmes
- Mobilize human resources
- Establish proper framework for social and economic infrastructure in rural areas
The agency`s influence is felt by many Nigerians even today.
Importance of Agriculture
The agriculture sector in Nigeria is one of the main sectors in the economy. It holds the second place after Oil & Gas production in the Country. More than half of population of every state of the country involved in the Agricultural sector.
Agricultural and rural development in Nigeria since independence faced a lot of drawbacks which slowed the evolution of this sector of life for Nigerians. Still, the results of governmental programmes can be seen today. Statistically, it influenced the life of every citizen in Nigeria.
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