Methods of Farming in Nigeria


Methods of Farming in Nigeria

Farming started with man using the power of human muscles. Many centuries passed before he started to use animal power to supplement the human muscle.

With the advent of science and technology coupled with research findings, agricultural production moved from subsistence farming to the use of machines, which is regarded as mechanization- for commercial purposes.

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Farming is defined as the act of rearing animals and planting crops for family consumption are some of the activities we usually term “Farming”. But to make it clear, Farming goes beyond these two. Farming is the basis of agriculture.

The raw materials used in the production of different finished products are all generated through farming. Some of these raw materials include cotton, timber, cocoa, wheat, coffee, palm oil, and others.

This is to say that on a large scale, farming can be defined as a business aimed at producing raw materials for personal, industrial, and commercial purposes.


Various Types of Farming

There are different types of farming you can undertake.  Whether you intend to start one solely for personal use or business reasons, any of this type of farming is worth investing your time in. 

Some of them include:

1. Hunting and Gathering

2 Subsistence Farming

3. Cash Crop Production

4. Commercial Agriculture


1. Hunting and Gathering

The early man lived by hunting wild animals and gathering wild fruits. His primary objective then was to get fed; and once this was accomplished, he was contented. This system was characterized by the use of primitive tools like stones, bows and arrows, traps, clubs and plough.

There was little to eat and no reserves were made for the farming season. This method was quickly jettisoned- with the advent of civilization.

2. Subsistence Farming

This is a system of fanning whereby a farmer cultivates crops and rears animals in order to produce food for use by himself and his family only. In crop production, the subsistence farmer concentrates on arable food crops as yam, cassava, maize, millet, sorghum, groundnuts, soya beans, and cowpeas.

The subsistence farmer may also be involved in the establishment of plantations using traditional methods.

The farmer may plant such crops as oil palm, cocoa, rubber, kola, tea, coffee, banana, and citrus trees.

In livestock production, the subsistence farmer keeps a few goats, sheep, rabbits or pigs. In the arid regions, the subsistence livestock farmer is mainly nomadic and moves with his animals from place to place in search of water and pasture.

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Characteristics of subsistence farming

1.   Labour is provided by the farmer and his family.

2.   Only small area of land is used.

3.   Crude implements like hoe, cutlass, digger, baskets are used.

4.   The produce from the farm are not necessarily for sale.

5.   The yield is also very low compared to mechanized farming.


Problems of subsistence farming

1. Control of pests and diseases is difficult.

2. The farmers are illiterate.

3. Use of crude tools.

4. Labour supply is erratic and unreliable.

5. The practice of subsistence farming wastes land and there is no means of replenishing soil.

6. The process is boring because the work is unchallenging and there is little or no profit, since farm products are not for sale.


3. Cash Crop Production

This is a more advance stage of agricultural production. They are tree crops which are planted and could stay on the same piece of land for many years. The farmer specializes on cultivating cash crops like cocoa, kola, rubber, citrus, groundnut, and oil palm.

These require processing into finished products before they are to be consumed.

Most of the plants in this category can stay for 5 to 50 years; and because of this, they require:

a. Initial fertile soil

b. Adequate and well distributed rain fall

c. Suitable cultural practice.


4. Commercial Agriculture

This is a type of farming that is done on a large scale; this involves the use of machinery to do the work formally done manually (mechanization).

Machines have been produced which increases productivity in agriculture. In advanced countries, most farm operations have been mechanized. Bulldozers are used for clearing the farm. Tractor mounted instruments like ploughs and harrows are used in tilling the soil.

There are machines for planting and making ridges; also, we have cultivators, spraying machines and machines for applying fertilizers.

Many types of harvesters are now available and there are machines used in processing agricultural produce of any type. In livestock farming, we now have incubators, egg graders and milking machines.

These machines make work in the farm easier, faster and less burdensome.

Take note of the following features.

1. It is very expensive to practice.

2. Large area of farmland is required.

3. Requires the use of machines like cultivators, tractors, planters, harvesters, etc.

4. Labour is both manual and mechanical, and specialists are required, at some stages of production.

5. Returns are very high at the end of season or harvest time.

6. Marketing of products is specialized and sometimes requires advertisement.

7. It involves a lot of research into the various aspects of production.

8. It requires good record keeping being able to make proper decisions.

Advantages of Mechanization

Let us consider the following benefits of mechanization

1. With machines, a farmer does much greater work within a given time- and does the work more efficiently.

2. Very often, machines do more thorough work that the hands can do.

3. Larger areas of land are cultivated with machines than with human labour.

4. Farm drudgery is very much reduced.

5. Labour is saved and released from the farm to other areas of production.

6. It is cheaper to produce with machine; this increases the profit margin of the farmer.

7. Mechanization makes it possible for the farmer to make use of optimum production period.

8. Since larger areas are cultivated with greater efficiency, food and raw materials will be produced in greater quantities.

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Disadvantages of Mechanization

Mechanization is a blessing to agriculture, but it has disadvantages and limitations.

Some of the disadvantages include the following:

1. It is capital-intensive - this is so because a lot of money is needed to purchase tractors and other implements; only rich farmers can acquire the necessary equipment. Also, the cost of hiring machines is often above what the ordinary farmer can afford. 

In Nigeria for instance, many state governments (Oyo State) have established tractor hiring units, but it will take time before many farmers can afford to take advantage of this.

2. It generates unemployment; because of the improved rate of work as a result of mechanization, a good number of workers are displaced, unemployed people constitute social problem.

3. Mechanization of seedbed preparation destroys or alters soil structure, which is not good for plants. 

4. Mechanization creates pollution since the machines will use power that often generates fume. 

The smoke that escapes from the exhaust of the tractors is carbon monoxide, which is dangerous.


Limitation to Mechanization

The cost of buying source of power and machines is very high and only very few rich farmers can go for mechanization now. Also, majority of farmers- especially rural farmers cannot afford the cost of hiring farm machines. 

Even at that, the available machines are not enough to reach all those who would like to hire them. There is scarcity of spare parts for the machines available.

As a result, most of the machines lie waste most of the time. For the machines to last long, they have to be properly maintained, regularly.


Conclusion on Methods of Farming in Nigeria

It can be clearly stated that despite the high yield and high proceeds from commercial agriculture, most small scale farmers still operate subsistence farming as a result of the low capital outlay involved. The state and federal governments should provide capital for small-scale farmers.

From the understanding of the various types of farming in this article, it is clear that mechanization of agriculture will be the solution to boosting agricultural production.

Also, it is worthy of note that subsistence farming can still be developed, especially with the provision of capital to small scale farmers.

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