12 Problems of Agricultural Development


12 Problems of Agricultural Development

In Developing countries, especially, West African countries and Nigeria in particular are faced with numerous problems which militate against the development of Agriculture. About 78% of Nigerian population lives in the rural areas, and are, basically, subsistence farmers.

This is an evidence of lack of development; since everybody will have to produce his own food and nobody will use his own resources to plan and create development in other sectors. 

Since there is the need for development both in agriculture and other sectors, the problems militating against the development of agriculture needs to be identified and tackled.


Problems of Agricultural Development

These problems account for almost 90% of Nigeria's under development issues, and once these are tackled with appropriate solutions, Nigeria will be regarded as an industrialized country.

1.  Land Tenure System

2. Poverty/lack of financial assistant

3. Lack of basic amenities

4. Ignorance and lack of good agricultural education

5. Poor tools and farm machine

6. Poor storage and processing facilities

7. Inefficient marketing system

8. Pest and diseases

9. Inadequate agricultural inputs

10. Inconsistent government policies and programmes

11. Poor extension workers

12. Unpredictable climate

Let us consider some of these problems.

1.  Land tenure: Land is one of the most important factors of agricultural production. Land tenure is the way land is owned in a society. The prevailing land tenure systems in Nigeria often discourage agricultural land utilization. 

Land is owned by inheritance; hence, land is fragmented over generations. Increase in population has increased the various alternatives to which land can be put. 

This further puts pressures on available land. The only solution is the strict adherence to the land use decree of 1978 as amended by the 1990 Act. This can make land available to prospective and genuine farmers.

2. Poverty/lack of financial assistant: This is one of the major problems of agricultural development in Nigeria. Modern scientific agriculture requires some substantial capital to acquire land, improved breeds of plants and animals, and equipment just to mention a few. Majority of farmers don't have this capital, and therefore, have no alternative than to engage in subsistence farming. 

Lack of credit facilities aggravates the problem. Banks insist on reasonable collaterals before they can give any loan and these farmers do not have such collaterals. The solution to this problem is that farmers should form themselves into co-operatives to generate capital for members. Government may also provide credit through some institutions with little or no stringent measures. Banks should be more liberal in making credit available to farmers.

3. Lack of basic amenities: Basic amenities are good roads, good drinking water, electricity, educational institutions, health facilities and market-these should be available in the rural areas. Young people like to enjoy the good things of life. Lack of these amenities in the rural areas has the effect of making the young energetic members of the communities to drift from the villages to the towns where the amenities are available. 

The result is that the villages where the agricultural lands are found are abandoned to the poor and old people who may just manage to earn their living from the land. Amenities like good roads, electricity and water supply are necessary for agricultural development. Provision of these basic amenities will discourage rural-urban migration.

4. Ignorance and lack of good agricultural education: Most of the farmers in the developing countries are not educated enough in the technicalities relating to agricultural product. These educated farmers do not tend to be conservative. Enlightened people tend to be guided in their decision by reason. The farmers are dogmatic and adamant to changes and very suspicious of any new innovations since they are unscientific in mind and in thinking and not willing to accept technological changes. 

Most of the farmers are unwilling to even learn how to use and apply fertilizers, insecticides and new farm tools.

All these bring about low agricultural productivity.

In Nigeria, agricultural education is seriously being pursued. Research station or institutes are increasing and extension services are encouraged to ensure that the result of researches is made available to farmers. Demonstration farms are established at strategic places to help educate rural farmers. Adult education has been embarked upon with vigor through government agencies.

5. Poor tools and farm machine: Most farmers still rely on the use of tools like hoe, cutlass, and rake- and so on, for their farm operation instead of using mechanized implements like riggers, ploughs, cultivators etc.; there is the need to have agricultural tools that are suitable for use in the tropics. 

At present, these are not readily and sufficiently available; where some are seen; they are very expensive and out of reach of the rural farmers.

Also, Maintenance costs are high and the spare parts may not be readily available. There is also need for skilled manpower for the maintenance and repair of the tools and machines. It may be necessary to encourage local production of the necessary tools and machines. 

This will have the effect of reducing the cost of purchasing and maintenance, and thereby making spare parts readily available.

Government should train farmers on the most recent agricultural technology, and there should be subsidies on the cost of farm machinery. Government can also create agencies in most of the local governments where tractors/machines can be hired.

6. Poor storage and processing facilities: In Nigeria, a large percentage of farm products are lost after harvest. Prices of these products fall too low immediately after harvest, because the farmer cannot store or preserve them, properly, till they can have better prices. Since these products are perishable and the farmer has no technology to process or preserve them, the entire products are offered for marketing immediately. 

Prices are forced down and the farmer may not be adequately rewarded for his labour. The situation is worsened by lack of adequate marketing systems for most of the farm products.

A large amount of farm products are lost during harvesting season because they can neither be disposed of properly or be preserved or processed. Storage facilities are inadequate. It is necessary that government should establish adequate marketing system. 

Also, government should make efforts to provide storage and processing facilities like crib, barns, shelters millers, grater, etc.; excess farm products should also be purchased by the government so as to prevent glut and bring them to the market during scarcity.

7. Inefficient marketing system: The sole aim of commercial agriculture is profit making. This cannot be achieved due to the activities of the middlemen who try to remove all the gains, create artificial scarcity with poor pricing policies. 

Prices continue to fluctuate and there are more marketing channels for farm produce coupled with the lack of good roads to help evacuate perishable farm produce to target market at the right time. The government should make provision for another board that should also pay the farmer prices that will give him enough profit to keep him in business. Such an arrangement will draw more capital into agriculture since people tend to invest in sectors that yield maximum profit.

8. Pest and diseases: In Nigeria, pests and diseases that destroy crops and animals abound. There are pests in the soil, pests that attack the aerial parts of the crops and storage pests. Very often, rural farmers are completely helpless in the face of these pests and diseases for they neither know how to control them nor can they afford the chemicals with which to do so if they happen to know what the disease or pests are and what chemicals to use.

The results are:

i. Large quantities of farm products are lost- both in the field and in store.

ii. Farmers spend extra money on chemicals purposely to control the pests and diseases.

iii. There is reduction in quantity and quality of products.

It is necessary to note too that very often, the chemical controlling the pests and diseases may not be available.

9. Inadequate agricultural inputs: Agricultural chemicals such as insecticides fungicides, are very expensive while inputs like improved seeds and seedling, improved animal materials like the parent stock in birds are lacking, some inputs are very substandard and do not meet the desired result while application of some chemicals can lead to pollution of the environment. 

Very often, supply of fertilizers are made when the farmer is about to start harvesting the crops. These inputs, as I have said above, are also very expensive and beyond the reach of majority of the rural farmers. Government intervention is very necessary in this area.

Farm inputs should be highly subsidized and also supplied at the right time for effective use. It is also necessary to reinforce the extension services to ensure that farmers are properly guided in the acquisition and proper use of the right type of agricultural chemicals and fertilizers.

10. Inconsistent government policies and programmes: Government lacks basic consistent policy on the management of agriculture. There is need to use government policies and programmes to solve most of the problems of agricultural development. For example, government can provide loans and credit facilities to promote expansion in agricultural production. 

It can subsidies the prices of specific agricultural materials and inputs in order to enable farmers obtain them at reasonable prices. Development of rural communities, especially, the farming communities is a programme that can help to attract farm labour to the rural areas where it is needed. Government can also initiate policies that can make farming so profitable that it will attract a lot of private capital.

11. Poor extension workers: Extension helps in disseminating information to a large number of farmers, within a very short time. This is not the case in developing countries because most extension workers are too ill-equipped for the work while language is another barrier- as well as the uncooperative attitude of farmers.

At most periods, there is a lack of recent research work; poor remuneration of extension officers has also been a challenge. The funding of the extension programmes must not only be done by the government but also non-governmental organizations, cooperative societies and other financial institutions.

12. Unpredictable climate: This is a major factor which must be controlled to suit agricultural production. Unfavourable climate reduces all farm activities while drought or long period without rain leads to poor harvest; flooding or excessive rainfall also reduces yield as well. Inadequate sunshine reduces the photosynthetic ability of the plants while excessive sunshine leads to increase or abnormal temperature for crops. 

Development of irrigation system and proper methods of preventing degradation of the environment should be accorded priority by all the agencies responsible for environmental control.


Conclusion on 12 Problems of Agricultural Development

The solution to all these problems is within the purview of the government; agriculture should be given priority in annual budgets.

In this article, you have been exposed to the problems confronting agricultural development. Suffice it to say that agricultural development is a necessary condition for the development of the economy of any nation- particularly an agrarian economy.

The development of agriculture can only be achieved if these problems are attended to as appropriate.

Read On: Meaning, Types, Factors of Agricultural Production Economics

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