Importance of Agricultural Production

Importance of Agricultural Production


You can recall that we enumerated the importance of agriculture earlier on and revealed the extent of the importance of agriculture to the survival of man, especially in the provision of food and raw materials for the growing population and the industries.

We now want to examine, in details, the Nigerian economy in terms of livestock and crop production- and the combination of productions in both fishery and forestry, for agricultural development.  Agricultural production because it's the source of our food supply. Arguably the most important aspect of agriculture is that it's the source of the world's food supply. No matter where or what you are eating, the ingredients in your meals came from somewhere. All roads lead to agriculture.

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Importance of Agriculture

Here, we are going to consider this under certain parameters.

1. Food: This is the prime necessity of life; and agriculture is the only sector that provides food for the teeming population. Food can be in form of crop or livestock products purposely to keep life going. Food is required for growth, good health and increased productivity. 

Large quantities of food items are obtained from agriculture, namely- rice, maize, yam, cassava, vegetables, fruits, milk, egg, meat, etc.

2. Employment opportunity: About 80% of the Nigerian population is employed within the agricultural sector and it provides job opportunities for all categories of works. Also, the agricultural sector absorbs a sizeable proportion of the population in farming business; this ranges from the peasant farmer, to farm labourers, agricultural officers, extension officers, researchers and industrial workers.

3. Provision of industrial raw materials: Agriculture provides the raw materials for industries so that they can be processed into finished products. Provision of local industries with adequate raw materials controls excessive use of foreign exchange. 

The most important raw materials used by the industries are palm oil, palm kernel, cocoa, rubber, tobacco, groundnuts, cotton, copra, hides and skin.

4. Formation of capital: Agriculture provides some sort of financial backing to other sectors of the economy through savings and the purchase of goods and services from these sectors. It is also a source of income for farmers. The sale of agricultural products provides farmers with income for investment in agricultural production.

5. Foreign exchange: Agriculture is a good source of foreign exchange. A large proportion of earnings from international trade are from the export of agricultural raw materials. Foreign exchange is earned through the sale of palm produce, cocoa, bees, coffee, groundnut, rubber, etc. 

6. Shelter and clothing: Materials for shelter can be provided from agricultural products such as oil palm, timber while clothing is produced from wood and cotton.

7. Rural development: The government usually targets rural farming areas as areas for infrastructure development. To meet with the increasing commercial activities in farming in these areas, certain social amenities like pipe borne water, road, and electricity are now being provided thereby transforming the rural areas to urban centers.

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Livestock production

Livestock production in Nigeria is carried out mainly by traditional method; and under this system, animals are rarely housed or given adequate healthcare. Mortality rate under this traditional production practices is as high as 30 – 40%, due to poor management. Farmers are therefore advised to form themselves into cooperatives so as to adopt modern techniques of livestock husbandry; this is because it is both labour and capital intensive and cooperative action will enhance their ability to pay for modern livestock production equipment.

The basic livestock production includes:

1. Poultry production which comprises birds like chickens, ducks, turkeys, geese, swans, pigeons, and ostriches.

2. Swine production

3. Horses production

4. Rabbit keeping e. goats/sheep production

 

Economic Importance of Production

The economic importance of livestock production includes:

1. Food: Farm animals are raised for food, which may be gotten as meat, eggs, and milk. The protein aspect is for the rapid development of body tissues.

2. Financial income: This is very crucial for farmers, particularly, as it relates to increasing standard of living. Money is realized from the sales of animals or its products such as meat, eggs, hides and skin, milk production. Most farmers use the income to raise capital for other areas of production.

3. Prestige: For many years in this country, some people have kept animals purposely for prestige purposes. They have herds of them and would neither sell them for money nor kill them for food. They are just happy to be recognized with having a large number of animals.

In this country, this idea has always been uppermost in the minds of chiefs and other traditional rulers some year ago.

4. Sport (pleasure): Few people breed animals for pleasure or for sports. Horses are usually bred for sports; while some good looking ones are usually kept for exhibition.

5. Labour (work): Some animals are reared purposely to supply labour on the farm, for example, cows and donkeys. They are used for farm activities, especially in carrying loads.

6. Security: Some animals, especially dogs, are trained to render some important activities for man- especially in the area of security. These animals are trained purposely to provide this essential service- as it is common with our law enforcement agency.

7. Laboratory animals: With the recent development in scientific study, some animals are now being used for scientific investigation. Chicks and rabbits, for example, are used in research work. Goats are kept in laboratories and various investigations have been carried out on them.

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Crop Production

Mainly, peasant farmers carry out crop production in Nigeria with the traditional methods and this has really affected the production of both food and tree crops. Pests and diseases have really ravaged crops, especially during past harvesting periods. Lack of good storage facilities has even aggravated this so much.

 

Economic Importance of Crop Production 

1. Vegetable crops are grown, principally, for consumption; for instance, some vegetables are consumed raw or cooked. They are good sources of vitamins.

2. Grains or cereals constitute a major source of starch/carbohydrate for our people. Grains are a form of staple food for most Nigerians and farm animals.

3. Root crops, like grain crops, are good sources of carbohydrate and are common all over the country. It should be noted however, that although food crops are grown/cultivated mainly for food, any quantity in excess of family needs may be sold. Sometimes farmers may engage solely in the farming of some food crops just for commercial purposes; and the profit accumulated can then be set aside for other farm operations.

4. Crops which are grown, specifically, for money and which may be exported to other countries to provide foreign exchange are referred to as cash crops, for example- cocoa, rubber, timber oil palm, coffee, kola nut, etc.

5. Most of these cash crops, mainly, provide raw materials for local industries; such crops include rubber (supplying latex) for the manufacture of tyres and tubes; while palm oil (from palm) is used for soap making, and timber is used in the furniture and allied industries.

 

Fish Production

Fishes are obtained by fishermen using several devices such as traps, nets, and trawlers. Since fishermen cannot predict their catch and because of the risks involved, as well as many other considerations, artificial methods of growing fish have been developed. Fish can successfully be cultivated in a fishpond in such a way that quantity and type of fish can be predicted and fish can be grown anytime. Fish ponds have become a familiar sight in most towns in Nigeria. You have surely visited one such pond. Fish culture is very important to the rural economy in the following ways:

 

Economic importance of fish Production 

1. It is essential for the supply of proteins to people, particularly where enough animals are not raised to supply enough meat.

2. It provides higher yield, even higher than that got from animal husbandry.

3. It can be undertaken by peasant farmers in their gardens. In this way, they can supplement the protein from other sources.

4. Intensive fish culture can increase the income of the farmer. Also, demand for industrial by-products can make fish farming very profitable.

5. Through fish culture, the danger posed by standing waters in dams and ponds can be prevented by keeping the water clean and getting rid of the vegetation.

 

Forestry

Forest may be regarded as a complex ecological system dominated by trees which form a buffer for earth against the full impact of the sun, wind and precipitation. Trees create a special environment which affects the forest. Depending on the nature of the trees we may have evergreen forests or deciduous; or even depending on the zones, we may have tropical or temperate. You will agree with me that the importance of forests is far reaching and this has been known in various parts of the world and for ages.

The importance of forests may be seen from benefits derived from it. The benefits may be grouped into two, as you are going to see now.

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Direct Benefits

These deal with the produce from the forest and the employment opportunities it offers. The major product of a forest is its woody materials. These make up the timber and the firewood. The latter is very important in areas where coal, kerosene and gas are not readily available for use. Timber is used manly as building material. It is also converted into paper, cardboard and other products. The raw materials for many industries are supplied by the produce from forests.

For example, oil palm supplies oil- the raw material needed in the manufacture of soaps, candles and margarine. Finally, forestry also creates opportunities for many jobs in various fields.

 

Indirect Benefits

The indirect benefit of forestry, although not apparent, can be very important to man and his future. Forestation is a method being employed to check desert encroachment. Forests help to make the local climate more comfortable. They protect animals and crops and prevent erosion.

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