Importance Factors Responsible for Agricultural Development


Importance Factors Responsible for Agricultural Development

Agricultural development is facilitated by the provision of certain social, health and educational facilities and services such as rural infrastructure (good road network); regular water supply, electricity, health, recreational and educational facilities for the people (farmers and families). When these are provided for, the rural populace they become independent of the urban people and facilities.

All these are, however, accompanied by appropriate development programmes to sustain the development process. It therefore implies that agricultural development is not a revolutionary process. It is a planned process of change which requires adequate planning.

Factors Responsible for Agricultural Development

Agricultural development is a necessary condition for economic development in any nation, particularly an agrarian economy; hence agriculture is one sector in which Nigeria has a comparative advantage as it offers the greatest potential for expanding the productive base of the economy and diversifying its sources of foreign exchange through exports.

The factors responsible for agricultural development are discussed below

1. Effective agricultural planning: Agricultural planning is a conscious, sustained and systematic attempt made by the government, Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) or private sector to utilize the available agricultural resources of the country to the benefit of farmers and the entire populace. Proper planning of all activities within the agricultural sector is, therefore, imperative for rapid development.

2. Agricultural inputs: The main inputs used for agricultural production include agro-chemicals, fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides, fungicides etc., improved seeds and seedlings, agricultural machinery (tractors, combine harvesters, planters, riggers) etc. For improved agricultural production and agricultural development, there is need for efficient distribution of these inputs, especially to small scale farmers. The inputs need to be procured and supplied timely and in adequate quantity to farmers, in view of the complementary nature and seasonality of their application on the farm. This will enable the farmer to benefit, fully, from the use of the inputs.

3. Financial resources: Capital is very essential for agricultural development, because a lot of infrastructure is needed. Besides, agricultural production requires the purchase of farm inputs- as mentioned above. Planning- in relation to manpower, research and staff emoluments require large capital outlay. 

These are carried out at macro-level. Capital is needed by farmers to break the vicious cycle created by low productivity, low income and low savings. You will remember that in the past, the family was the major source of agricultural labour.

In recent times, as a result of increased educational opportunities and rapid exodus of able-bodied agricultural labour to urban centers, there is great strain on the little family labour on the farm. Consequently, there is greater need for hired labour.

As with the other sectors of the economy, the increased demand for labour has resulted in rise in labour wages. To meet these, farmers need to have access to credit facilities. Such credit can also be used to purchase inputs to achieve increased productivity.

Thus, credit need to be made available at the time required by farmers and at reasonable interest rates. Adequate supervision of the use of the credit is, however, necessary to ensure that it is spent on productive activities only. 

Some experts have argued that in order to achieve the prudent use of the production credit facility, farmers should be given consumption credit in addition to the agricultural production credit. This, as suggested, will assist the farmers in meeting their consumption expenses during the period between planting and harvesting or unfavorable weather conditions.

4. Manpower development:  Manpower development involves training of all categories of agricultural personnel. These include agricultural officers, agricultural superintendents, technicians and technologists. Manpower development is vital and crucial for rapid development. It ensures effective, management of the various phases of agricultural development process. 

Consequently, institutions such as universities, schools of agriculture and associated training institutes like Agricultural Research and Management Training Institute (ARMTI) are of paramount importance for the development of high and middle level manpower.

5. Agricultural land resources:  The total land resource of Nigeria is estimated to be about 98.3 million hectares. Out of this about 71.2 million hectares is arable land. However, it is estimated that about only 34.0 million hectares is under cultivation. 

Thus, the cultivable land resources of Nigeria are grossly underutilized. The under-utilization of land is a function of some institutional constraints. The land tenure system in operation is responsible for the fragmentation of farmland holdings and the difficulties encountered by individuals who are interested in farming. For rapid agricultural development, land need be made available to farmers. 

The land tenure system should allow expansion of fields and provide high degree of security to the cultivators. Equitable distribution of land permits as many people as possible to undertake farming as a business venture with reduced constraint.

6. Irrigation:  Irrigation facilities such as dams are, particularly, essential in areas where there is insufficient rainfall. As an alternative to rain, irrigation ensures adequate supply of water, which is an important input for production of forage for livestock and other uses. This reduces the effects of weather hazards on crop and animal production.

7. Efficient marketing system for agricultural products: This is an important pre-requisite that requires time for consumers and stabilizing farmer’s income. Beside effective communication system, good roads are equally essential for conveyance of farm inputs and outputs, to and from farms. All these factors lead to increased output, income, and standard of living, thereby aiding agricultural development. They also result in generation of employment opportunity in the rural areas and reduction in rural-urban drift. They also ensure availability of good quality food to meet the nutritional requirement of the populace.

It is important to note that attempts made to increase production need to be accompanied with commensurate measure to improve the efficiency of the marketing system; as it is fruitless to increase production which will later be lost as a result of spoilage due to inefficient marketing system.

8. Government policy: In view of the important role of agriculture in providing basic food requirement for the people, government of many countries- through their agents directly or indirectly, control agricultural activities to ensure rapid agricultural development.

Consequently, policies are formulated while plans, programmes and projects are developed at different times and levels to facilitate the development of the sector.

Some government measures to facilitate agricultural development in Nigeria include the following:

a. Agricultural credit scheme was launched in 1978 and was aimed at achieving rapid increase in the production of food stuffs. The scheme provided credit facilities to farmers for increased production of crops and livestock.

b. Establishment of Marketing Boards in 1997 which was to facilitate increased production of export crops and stabilise famer’s income.

c. Establishment of National Supply Company (NSC) which performed anti-inflation role through massive importation of the so-called “essential commodities” (i.e. milk, rice, vegetable oil etc.).

d. Provision of subsidy for agricultural inputs such as fertilizers, agro-chemicals, improved seeds and seedlings and drugs for livestock production.

e. Guarantee of minimum prices and income for food producers aimed at stabilizing the income of farmers.

f. Launching of Operation Feed the Nation (OFN) in 1976 and the Green Revolution (GR) in 1979. OFN was short-lived due to the change of government in October 1979 and was replaced by Green Revolution by the new government.

Inefficient management during the implementation stage and lack of continuity often constitute the bane of these programmes. Thus, continuity and efficient management of these programmes to attain the policy objectives are imperative for agricultural development (and its sustenance).

i. Institutional arrangements Agricultural related institutions such as extension organisation, farm organisation, financial institutions, and farmers’ cooperative associations are essential for agricultural development. These institutions are established, primarily, to give assistance of diverse nature ranging from financial to technical assistance to farmer members. The assistance is aimed at improving farmers’ techniques, overall production, income, standard of living and general welfare. The institutions are either established by the farmers themselves or through external agencies.

9. Technology:  Technology does not, necessarily, imply complete change to the use of heavy machineries. The use of mechanical devices and applied science in response to changes in the total environment of the farmers and users of agricultural output is relevant here.

Thus, rapid development of agricultural sector requires improved technology. This includes improvement of agricultural production technique, use of improved simple farm tools, management techniques, storing, processing and transportation of agricultural products. The importance of changing technology is to enable the sector cope with the changes in the socio-economic characteristics of the dynamic population.

Thus, farmers are able to maximize their returns due to effective use of limited resources. Besides, technology can only have significant impact on the sector if the products are readily available and affordable. Availability of local technology saves foreign exchange creates job opportunities within the sector, increase farmers’ productivity, income and standard of living leading to rapid development of the sector.

10. Research: Research is an advanced stage of study undertaken to discover or establish facts or principles. In agriculture, it involves finding solutions to farmer’s problems through systematic experimental procedures.

There are two types of research, namely:

i. Basic research

ii. Applied research

For research to be meaningful, it must be relevant to the needs of farmers. Thus, the farmers should participate fully in the identification of their problems/felt needs from the planning stage of the research. This is attained through close interaction between the farmers and the research team.

This is referred to as "up steam" research. Findings of the research are transmitted to farmers through extension officers.

11. Extension: Service Extension service is defined as a voluntary out-of-school educational arrangement created to increase the production capacity, and thus, the standard of living of the rural and urban populace. It is either established by the government or non-governmental organizations to disseminate useful information relating to the discipline in focus, to the people concerned.

Specifically, agricultural extension officers transmit research findings from research institutes or universities to farmers and obtain feedback from farmers to the researchers for further research, analysis and validation of facts.


Conclusion on Factors Responsible for Agricultural Development

By now you must have realized that the various factors responsible for agricultural development include, financial resources, agricultural planning, agricultural inputs, manpower development, and research- to mention a few. These, in the long run, contribute to farmer’s income and increase in the standard of living, thus leading to rapid development.

In this article, you have studied the various factors responsible for agricultural development. All these have contributed to the growth and development of agriculture, which confirms that agricultural development is a necessary condition for economic development of any nation, particularly an agrarian economy.

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