9 amazing facts about Smallholder Farmers in Nigeria

by Tamarapreye Elayelagha on 05 Apr 2023 • 6 comments
3 min read

It is evident from the Nigerian proverb, "a small yam cut with a hoe can still fill a barn," that smallholder farmers in Nigeria are incredibly resourceful and resilient. Despite using traditional farming methods, these individuals are able to generate a substantial crop yield. This emphasises the value of recognizing the invaluable contributions of smallholder farmers to food safety and production, particularly in locations where resources and technology are limited.

Nigeria is home to millions of smallholder farmers who play an important role in the nation's economy. These farmers are responsible for producing a large share of the country's food and other agricultural products. Smallholder farmers in Nigeria play a critical role in the nation's socio-economic development. They are responsible for producing the majority of the country's staples, providing employment for millions of people, and helping to drive the country's agricultural sector.

Image Credit: Freepik

Here are nine amazing facts about smallholder farmers in Nigeria.

  1. Nigeria's agricultural sector currently employs over 60% of the country's labour force, making it the largest employer of labour in Nigeria. 

According to Statista, the agricultural sector in Nigeria contributed to about 23% of the total Gross Domestic Product with over 70% of Nigerians engaging in the agriculture sector mainly at a subsistence level.

  1. Smallholder farmers in Nigeria use a range of farming methods that reflect the diversity of local agro ecological conditions and farming traditions. 

Many Nigerian farmers rely on traditional farming methods, such as manual labour and rain-fed agriculture, due to limited access to modern farming equipment and irrigation systems.   

  1. Most Nigerian farmers are small-scale, with an average landholding of fewer than two hectares. Smallholder farmers in Nigeria occupy up to 70% of the country’s arable land. Nevertheless, subsistence farming is largely the order of the day with many farmers producing crops for their families and communities.

  1. According to a report by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, Nigeria has an estimated 34.5 million farmers, which represents about 70% of the country's labour force and a significant number of the farmers in Africa. 

  1. Nigerian smallholder farmers are responsible for producing an estimated 90% of the country’s food. They grow a variety of crops, including yams, cassava, maize, beans, rice, and vegetables and They also raise livestock such as goats, chickens, and cows. 

Image Credit: Freepik

  1. Nigerian farmers are increasingly turning to technology to improve their yields and profitability.

The use of mobile technology, such as USSD, SMS and mobile applications is increasingly being used to provide smallholder farmers with access to market information, financial services, and extension services. Mobile apps, precision farming techniques, and e-commerce platforms are all being used to help farmers access markets and increase their efficiency. Crop2Cash is at the forefront of this adoption of technology by providing a USSD platform that gives farmers access to financial services, mechanisation, farming packages such as the beta farmer package,  and so much more.

  1. Many Nigerian farmers face significant challenges, including poor infrastructure, inadequate access to credit, and climate change. These factors can make it difficult for farmers to maintain their livelihoods and provide for their families.

  1. Nigerian farmers have a rich cultural heritage and often incorporate traditional beliefs and practices into their farming activities, such as planting and harvesting based on lunar cycles and using herbal remedies to treat crop diseases.

  1. Smallholder farmers in Nigeria are increasingly turning to sustainable farming practices, such as agroforestry and conservation agriculture, to improve soil fertility and productivity, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and increase resilience to climate change. Furthermore, to address the threat of pests and diseases, they have adopted the use of biological control agents, such as beneficial insects and microorganisms, to combat them. 

Check out other articles on smallholder farmers here:

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