Since 2003, economic growth in Nigeria has been strong. Annual GDP grew by 9.1 percent per annum between 2003 and 2005 and by 6 .1 percent per annum between 2006 and 2008. Much of this growth can be attributed to the non-oil economy which has grown rapidly. This is due primarily to agriculture, which contributes approximately 35 percent to total GDP and supports 70 percent of the population.
Agricultural research has been shown to be crucial in increasing agricultural productivity and reducing poverty. A study by Alene et al. (2007) showed that a 50 percent increase in the Nigerian research budget could lead to a substantial reduction of poverty across the country’s three major agroecological zones. In the central part of the country (moist savannah), maize and yams had the highest potential to reduce poverty (by respectively 8 percent and 6 percent) while
cassava and yams had the highest potential in the humid forest zone in southern Nigeria.