Colonial and Post-Independence Agricultural Policies in Eastern Nigeria, 1946 – 1980
There is a thin line between agriculture and rural development, at least in Nigeria. This is so, given the number of people who reside in the rural areas, where agriculture remains the primary activity. Records show that in 1970, about 70% of Nigeria's labour force was employed in this sector. The situation may not have changed drastically now. Prior to colonial administration, agriculture was very highly regarded because it assured the people of supply of food; stimulated a degree of urbanization and specialization; and, in fact permitted an increase in population. At the same time, Nigeria's economic growth up until 1970, owed so much to the efforts of rural farmers, who produced the agricultural commodities that were exported. This also meant that any significant improvement in the agricultural sector then was bound to impact on the lives of the people. The various governments of Eastern Nigeria understood this and always tried to improve the lots of the rural dwellers by implementing different agricultural policies and programmes. The paper assesses the various colonial and post-colonial agricultural policies in Eastern Nigeria up to 1980, with a view to showing their impact on rural development. For clarity, the paper has been divided into two: Colonial Agricultural Policies 1946 – 1960; and, Post-Independence Agricultural Policies 1960 – 1980, with each dealing with policies and programmes implemented in the sector during the period and how they affected the lives of the people.
Lagos Historical Review Vol. 8 2008: pp. 64-78