Agriculture is the single largest contributor to the well-being of the rural poor in Nigeria, sustaining about 86 percent of rural households in the country. Improved agricultural development and growth can offer a pathway out of poverty. But until very recently, agriculture has suffered the effects of several decades of neglect. Nigeria’s agricultural policies have been inconsistent, uncoordinated and ad hoc. After very slow growth during the 1970s and 1980s, agricultural growth began to pick up during the 1990s and, since 2000, has averaged 5.6 percent per year. However, even with the rapid agriculture growth of the past decade, Nigeria still has one of the highest poverty rates in the world.
A paradigm shift towards a sound evidence-based policymaking process is needed to promote more equitable, gender sensitive and environmentally sustainable growth in the agricultural sector. The recent food price surge has made this shift even more important.