Prior to the discovery of crude oil at Oloibiri Oilfield in Niger Delta in 1956, Nigeria had showed a remarkable record as one of the major exporters of agricultural produce across African continent. The nation witnessed a new era of socio-economic tardiness after the take-off of oil exportation in 1960s.
The over-reliance on income from oil sector has become a factor backpedalling states’ economic and financial capacity as their only source for income mainly from the monthly federation account allocation. Not attention is paid for Internally Generated Revenue through aggressive diversification despite the vast agricultural endowments in their respective states.
Advanced economies such as France, Germany, Italy, China, Indonesia, United Kingdom, Brazil and Canada had at the outset embraced agro-economic diversification through which they have improved their national income generation from cash crops. Most states in those countries saddled themselves with responsibility for productions of specific agricultural commodities from which the governments derived revenue for states’ developmental finance.
Nigeria from its humble beginning, especially at the Independence, had such efficient measures, as every region or state identified with particular agricultural outputs such as Alien Cotton in the South, rice and wheat cultivation in some northern states. There were also extensive production of export crops such cocoa, palm oil, groundnut, cassava, maize, rubber, yam, beans, tomatoes, vegetables, cashew and development of agricultural implementations as well as designing farm buildings using the fertile landscape from which the states derived larger Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) to finance their capital and recurrent votes.
Considering these, most states in Nigeria such as Ogun, Ondo, Oyo, Edo, Cross River, Anambra, Enugu, Imo, Abia, Ekiti, Akwa-Ibom, Delta and Rivers having profuse oil palms can liaise with their respective State Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (SCCIMA) on all matters relating to agricultural purposes; to monitor the performance of their cash crops, receive suggestion where necessary, and organize seminars and Trade Missions to maximize, modernize and export their products. Similar institutions exist in Indonesia and Malaysia known as Palm Oil Chambers that assist their farers on the use of sophisticated agricultural equipment for enhancing and improving the oil quality and fertility. Malaysia has so created over 500, 000 jobs with over 150 countries as its major markets in 2009.
In Cassava production, Ogun, Kwara, Cross River, Nasarawa, Ogun, Ondo, Oyo, Lagos, Osun states can collaborate with the British American Tobacco Nigeria Foundation (BATNF) on its ongoing siting of a cassava processing cottage industry in the country, and explore the use of new facility like ultra modern cassava processing equipment to reduce the hardship cassava processors have been going through. This will help them to attain technical skill, improve, modernize and standardize their productive capacities. Just as Thailand for instance, has made considerable advance in modernizing its starch industries using technologically advanced industrial plants such as Belt conveyer, chipper machine, screw pump, rotary filter, starch hydro-cyclone; and proficiently transformed cassava into various finished goods serving as raw material for different industrial sectors such as bakery, animal feeds, paper, textile, wood furniture industries across the globe.
Maize is another very vital cash crop in the world agro-Industrial market. Indeed, Nigeria Investment Opportunity (2011) observed that the crop constitutes about 60% of industrial raw materials confirmed useful mostly in the production of filler for plastics, packing materials, insulating materials, adhesives, dyes, insecticides, pharmaceuticals and other chemicals. The United States Grains Councils (2010) observed that United States, China and Brazil are well known key players in the world corn market with 41%, 19.4% and 6.9% of the world production respectively.
There is a need for well-funded Agricultural Research and Development in the states where governments of such maize growing states like Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Kano, Yobe, Jigawa, Gombe, Taraba, Plateau, Sokoto, Kebbi, Katsina, Nasarawa, Niger and Zamfara can bring their famers together under the auspices of the Maize Association of Nigeria for training on the utilization of the latest technologies for massive production of maize to meet both local and international industrial demands.
Furthermore, states like Ondo, Osun, Kwara, and Kogi, who are endowed with copious hardwood species like are Iroko, mahogany, Obeche and sapele woods can strengthen their productive and technological capacities and put the local sawmilling industries in workable condition. A study conducted in 1993 by the General Wood and Veneer Consultant Ltd, Canada in partnership with the Federal Department of Forestry disclosed that Nigeria has witnessed a significant reduction in number of sawmills in the country; and the existence ones operate at low capacity. For instance, the Canadian Encyclopedia (2011) confirmed that forestry production constituted about about 15.2% of Canada’s Gross Domestic Export in 1994; while currently producing 22% of the world forestry exports. The economy has achieved this, not only through its technical capacity in the sector, but also government collaboration and support for the industrial associations by building up a sufficient forestry production team for the world market.
Apart from these, the states in riverine areas like Bayelsa, Rivers, Delta, Lagos, and Abia can boost their IGR by diversify towards Fishery production, rice cultivation, and vegetable plantations. According to an Oceanographer, Craig Emerson (1999) for over 3,000 years, China has continued to dominate the world fishery production with 83% of the world’s aquaculture output from which it has largely multiplied its annual Gross Domestic Income. It has achieved this height so far using hatchery technologies and integrated farming systems. These methods have been used in Bangladesh, Burma, India, Indonesia, Iran, Korea and Philippines.
Jimoh, Abubakar, an NYSC member writes from Revenue Mobilisation Allocation & Fiscal Commission (RMAFC), Abuja. [email protected]