According to the UNDP (2001) report, Nigeria started its independent nationhood
in 1960 with poverty level of only 15% of population, but it is today
struggling to reduce it from about 70% of its current population of about 190
million. This is in spite of the fact that the country is richly endowed with
numerous natural, especially agricultural and mineral resources. Nigeria’s
rising extreme poverty numbers are a direct result of years of negligent and
ineffective government policies. Over-dependence on oil for years and an inability
to generate non-oil revenue has led it to this. The country’s agricultural
policy aims at reaching self-sustaining growth in the agricultural sector as
well as the structural transformation required for the overall socio-economic
development and improvement in the quality of life of Nigerians. The key
feature of the policy is the evolution of strategies for ensuring
self-sufficiency and the improvement of the technical and economic efficiency
in food production. This is to be achieved through the introduction and
adoption of improved seeds and seed stock, husbandry and appropriate machinery
and equipment, efficient utilization of resources, encouragement of ecological
specialization and recognition of the roles and potentials of small-scale
farmers as the main drivers of food production in the country. Nigeria’s
agricultural policy framework has evolved in a way that reflected, in a
historical perspective, the changing character of agricultural development
problems and the roles which different segments of the society were expected to
play in addressing these problems. The form and direction of agricultural
policy were dictated by the philosophical stance of government on the content
of agricultural development and the role of government in the development
process. Here, we examined Nigeria’s agricultural policy evolution from the
colonial to the contemporary period. The very survival of Nigeria is tied to
the ability of its economy to meet the material demands of its citizens since
welfare constitutes a third objective of modern government. Food is an
essential component of welfarism. The Nigerian Government and public policy
makers must therefore see food as a component of welfarism and as such develop
and sustain sufficient political will to achieve increased food
production, a credible food policy and ultimately degrade poverty
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