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The challenges of crop production in Nigeria for the 21st century

J. E. Asiegbu


Before and at the dawn of independence in 1960, Nigeria had a thriving agrarian economy, with food surplus projected for the 70s. The food surplus never happened because of the neglect of agriculture resulting from a thriving oil economy to the extent that presently oil accounts for 94 - 95% of Nigeria's foreign exchange earnings.
In the present article, attempts have been made to identify the major challenges and aims of crop and forestry agriculture with a case made for the ways to make crop agriculture to play a robust and more competitive role in the 21st century.
Nigeria's endowment in crop and environmental resources were shown to be favourable for agricultural development. Ways ahead for agricultural development in the 21st century were surveyed. Use of proved good quality planting materials based on a good breeding programme which necessitates emergence of indigenous seed firms with commercial orientation, and uses of integrated pest management procedures were strongly emphasized. The right production system and mechanization strategies must be products of research and development based on local conditions and not mere importations based on alien conditions. Agroforestry, with its multiple benefits, was shown to be environmentally friendly and capable of benefiting sustainable production if well programmed into use.
Conservation of Nigeria's fast disappearing wealth of genetic resources as a basis for development of crop idiotypes was seen as a great debt owed to the future generation. Biotechnology, like the Green Revolution of the 20th century, was identified as probably the unfolding revolutionary technology for the 21st century, that may alter the course of agricultural development, and in which Nigeria must play a competitive role to remain relevant in 21st century agriculture.
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