Advances in Agriculture, Sciences and Engineering Research, Vol 3, No 8 (2013)

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Advances in Agriculture, Sciences and Engineering Research

Science Education Development Institute, 2013 Volume 3 (8) Aug: 1062 - 1076, 2013

Printed in Nigeria ISSN: 2276 - 6723




O. A. Oyelade1* and N. B. Anwanane2

1Farm Power and Machinery Department, National Centre for Agricultural Mechanization (NCAM), P.M.B. 1525, Ilorin, Kwara State, Nigeria. Post code: 240001.2Agronomy Department, University of Ilorin, P.M.B. 1515, Ilorin, Kwara State, Nigeria. Post code: 240001.



Nigeria is a country located in the Western part of Africa. In 2013, it has population strength of over 173 million people living in the country as estimated by the Global Population Statistics ( Nigeria is blessed with a land mass of about 98 million hectares, out of which 83 million hectares are suitable for cultivation but with only 30 to 34 million hectares are presently under cultivation. About 63% of the agricultural soils available in Nigeria are of low productivity, and over 95% are alfisols and ultisols which are low in inorganic matter and have low activity clays. The present level of agricultural mechanization in Nigeria is extremely to low compared with what is obtainable in other developed nations like India and Japan. This low level of agricultural mechanization coupled with the low level of soil fertility in Nigeria poses great danger to ensuring food security in Nigeria. This has put the country into a state of food insecurity whereby the country cannot do without importing the various types of food in order to meet her ever teeming population demand. This paper discusses possible ways in which Nigeria could overcome her present challenges in the area of ensuring food security for her ever teeming population.

KEYWORDS: food, agricultural, security, soil, mechanization, Nigeria



Agricultural Practices

Agricultural Practice in Africa

Africa is a continent rich in natural and human resources where an estimated figure of 1.01 billion people lives in 2009. Agriculture is the predominant economic sector which employs nearly 60% of the labor force, accounts for about 20% of total merchandise exports (having declined from over 50% in the 1960s), and contributes between 11 and 12% to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2008 [1]. Agriculture is the backbone of Africas economy. About 70% of Africans and roughly 80% of the continents poor live in rural areas and depends mainly on agriculture for their livelihood. The sector accounts for about 20 % of Africas GDP, 60% of its labour force and 20% of the total merchandise exports. Agriculture is the main source of income for 90% of rural population in Africa. The agricultural sector plays a key role in Africa. Most Africans depend on small-scale farming systems as the primary source of their livelihoods, with women playing a major role in the production, processing and marketing of agricultural produce. Agriculture is therefore a vital factor in efforts to combat poverty and food insecurity.


Agricultural Practice in West Africa

The agricultural sector plays a key role in the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). As the backbone of the economy, it affects the society at many levels since national economies and peoples jobs, incomes and food security depend upon it. In economic terms, this sector accounts for about 35% of the regions Gross Domestic Product. Agricultural exports constitute an important element of West Africas foreign trade, generating around six billion dollars, or 16.3% of all the products and services exported from the region. In terms of jobs, it is still the biggest employer, with over 60% of the active population in the ECOWAS region engaged in agriculture, even though it pays less than other economic sectors [2].



Advances in Agriculture, Sciences and Engineering Research: Volume 3 (8) Aug: 1062 - 1076, 2013



Women play a major role in the production, processing and marketing of agricultural produce. Agriculture is also a vital factor in efforts to combat poverty and food insecurity. Farming household build their strategies around internal consumption, while city dwellers (who now account for more than half of the regions population) obtain virtually all their food from local markets. Presently, 80% of the regional populations food needs are met by regional produce, but over the next few years West African agriculture will have to meet a huge increase in demand generated by demographic growth. The population of the region currently stands at 290 million, and is set to exceed 400 million by 2020, and 500 million by 2030. Finally, agriculture plays a key role in land management, soil fertility, natural resource management and environmental protection [2].


Despite the importance of agriculture in the West African economy, agriculture in the region is characterized by low productivity and plagued by major environmental constraints. The model of agricultural growth that the region has depended on for more than a generation is not sustainable in the long term, as production systems have not intensified in line with galloping urban development. The result has been a dramatic decline in soil productivity, increasingly degraded natural resources and more and more conflicts over land use, particularly between farmers and herders, as pressure on land intensifies and good land becomes progressively saturated [2].


Agricultural policy tools are primarily geared towards commercially profitable cash crops rather than the support needed to achieve its objectives of food security, rural employment and integration into the regional market. Several countries in the region have become accustomed to relying on cheap imported produce to feed their people. In the meantime, exports fetch less on the international markets, while regional produce has to compete with cheap imports generated by the subsidies given to producers in developed countries as agricultural markets reached saturation point in the mid-2000s. Despite these problems, the last twenty four years have seen some fundamental changes in the regions agricultural production. Huge increases in production have largely outstripped growth in demand, as cash crops rose from 19 million tonnes in 1980 to 39 million tonnes in 2006, and food crops soared from 59 million tonnes in 1980 to 212 million tonnes in 2006. Despite an unfavourable regional and international environment (with a poorly structured regional market and the distortions and shortcomings of the international market), production actually increased sufficiently to meet the growth in demand [2].


Agricultural Practice in Nigeria

According to Global Population Statistics as found in, the world is estimated to have a total population of 7,162,119,434 with China topping the whole world, followed by India, USA, Indonesia, Brazil, Pakistan, Nigeria, Bangladesh etc as contained in Table 1. It can be deduced from Table 1 that Nigeria is the 7th largest populated country in the whole world as at 1st July, 2013 with population strength of 173,615,345.


Table 1. World Population Table






































Source: [3]


Nigeria is blessed with a land mass of about 98 million hectares, out of which 83 million hectares are suitable for cultivation but with only 30 to 34 million hectares are presently under cultivation [4, 5, 6, 7]. The Nigerian small-scale farmers are estimated to account for the cultivation of about 90% of the total cultivated land area in Nigeria,

Advances in Agriculture, Sciences and Engineering Research: Volume 3 (8) Aug: 1062 - 1076, 2013


producing nearly 90% of total agricultural output [8]. The Nigerian agriculture sector is an industry of perpetual toilage and indignity, plagued with drudgery, aged and ageing farming population. These small-holder farmers therefore remain impoverished, still depending on manual labour to carry out their various farming operations [9]. The farming system today have more obvious and delectable social, ecological, economic, and environmental implications than ever before because of the growing concerns about agricultural sustainability and the environment. Agricultural sustainability implies an increasing trend in per capita productivity to meet the present needs without jeopardizing the future potentials [10].


Agricultural Soil in Nigeria

In the tropics, the problem of maintaining the physical, chemical and biological suitability of soil for agriculture are serious issues resulting from high rainfall intensity and temperature, and often shallow, coarse-textured, structurally and chemically fragile top soils. The soils are often highly liable to compaction, water and wind erosion, runoff surface ponding, crusting, nutrient leaching and imbalance. In Africa, there are many unsuccessful farm projects that failed as a result of ill-adapted tillage techniques and inappropriate equipment. The major soil groups in Africa are aridisoils (34.5%), alfisols (22.4%), Oxisols (22.4%), entisols (12.1%), utisols (48%) and vertisols (1.6%). Most of these soils have limitations of sandy textures (30.5%) and steep slopes (8.6%) and require careful tillage. Soils in Nigeria suffer deficiencies common to other tropical soils. These include low inorganic matter content, shallow depth and high acidity. About 63% of Nigeria agricultural soils are low in productivity, and over 95% are alfisols and ultisols which are low in inorganic matter and have low activity clays. Under intensive cropping, especially when land development is mechanized, the physical, and chemical qualities of Nigerias soils deteriorate fast. The structure easily collapses, porosity falls and water transmission ability falls. If cultivation lasts more than four years there is rapid loss of soil organic matter with consequent deterioration of soil structure, possibly erosion and water loss. In Nigeria, all forms of erosion account for the loss of 25 million tonnes of top soil per annum. The nutrient-rich top soil is largely removed by runoff. The annual rainfall in Nigeria varies from about 3000 mm in the South to 500 mm in the extreme North. The rainfall can be very intense, leading to highly leached soil [11]. Research studies from the semiarid and arid regions of the world have shown that tillage must be done for gainful production of arable crops [12, 13] such as sorghum [14]. Also, research studies in Nigeria showed that maximum yield of rice, cowpea, tomato, yam and cocoyam were not attainable without tillage. Therefore, tillage has a divine basis [15].


Tillage is a process of physical manipulation of the soil to achieve weed control, finess of tilth, smoothness, aeration, artificial porosity, friability, optimum moisture content to facilitate sowing and covering of the seed [16]. The benefits of tillage to agricultural productivity includes: (i) Tillage softens the soil and prepares seedbed for placing seeds easily at suitable depth that will result in uniform germination of seeds; (ii) Tillage is used to incorporate previous crop residues along with any soil amendment such as organic and inorganic fertilizers; (iii) Tillage helps to release soil nutrients needed for crop growth; (iv) Tillage helps in controlling several soil and residue borne diseases and pests through burial and disturbance; and (v) Tillage gives temporary relief from compaction by using implements that could shatter below ground compaction layers formed in the soil.


Hunger, Poverty and Undernourishment

Hunger, which usually follows food shortages, is caused by a complex set of events and circumstances [social, economic and political factors] that differ depending on the place and time. Although hunger has been a part of human experience for centuries and a dominant feature of life in many low-income countries, the causes of hunger and starvation are not very well understood. Our understanding of the main causes of hunger and starvation has been hampered by myths and misconceptions about the interplay between hunger and population growth, land use, farm size, technology, trade, environment and other factors. Poverty cannot be defined simply in terms of lacking access to sufficient food. It is also closely associated with a persons lack of access to productive assets, services and markets. Without access to these, it is unlikely that production and income earning capacities can be improved on a sustainable basis. Rural poverty is related to food insecurity, access to assets, services and markets: income-earning opportunities; and the organisational and institutional means for achieving those ends [17].


Many countries have made significant progress in the last decade; poverty and malnutrition continue to be major problems in Nigeria and other Sub-Saharan Africa countries. Agricultural production increased to 12.3% of gross domestic product in 2009. Yet, 72.9% of the population live on less than US$2 per day, 27.5% consume inadequate

Advances in Agriculture, Sciences and Engineering Research: Volume 3 (8) Aug: 1062 - 1076, 2013


calories, and 23.6% of children under five are underweight [18]. Hunger is defined as the uneasy and painful sensation caused by a lack of food, and the recurrent and involuntary lack of access to food. Put in another way, hunger is the want or scarcity of food in a country. When aggregated to the world level, it becomes world hunger [19].


Several countries that achieved the steepest reductions in the proportion of undernourished were located in the sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). These countries include Ghana, Congo, Nigeria, Mozambique and Malawi, with Ghana being the only country to have reached both the World Food Summit (WFS) and Millennium Development Goal (MDG) targets. The success made in Malawi was basically due to a drastic reversal of government policy in 2005 which re-introduced input subsidies to smallholder farmers and made available to them improved seeds and fertilizers at affordable prices. The achievement of maize production surpluses enabled Malawi to triple exports in only two years and to achieve an overall average economic growth of 11.37% per year. More than 40% of the undernourished in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) are in East Africa. In addition, more than half of the populations is affected in Congo Democratic Republic, Burundi and Eritrea while Angola, Central Africa Republic, Chad, Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Mali, Mozambique, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Togo and Zambia, show prevalence rates between 30% and 45%. Nigerias prevalence rate is low (8%), but its large population means that the country accounts for a good share of the food insecure in West and Central Africa [1].


West Africa has gone against the trend in the rest of Africa, with its numbers of undernourished falling dramatically from 37 to 35 million, and the prevalence level undernourishment from 20% to 13% between 1990/92 and 2004/06. Progress in this sub region forms the basis for optimism that trends can be reversed in other parts of Africa. Countries that stand out are Ghana and Nigeria, and they were the only sub-Saharan African countries that had consistent declines in both the number and the prevalence of undernourished people over the period. Countries in the North Africa region have some of the lowest levels of undernourishment in the developing world, nevertheless the number of undernourished people in the region has been increasing since 1990-92; it has risen from 4 million people in 1990/92 to 4.9 million in 2004/06 but the prevalence of undernourishment has remained more or less constant at about 3%. Despite this relatively low prevalence of undernourishment in the North Africa region, the negative trend towards increased hunger has to be reversed. Poor nutrition is a major challenge for food security in the region. Average calorie intake was 2,192 kcal per day in 2004, by far the lowest in the world as the global average was 2,399 kcal per day. While in 2004 - 2006 the minimum energy requirement was met in all countries in North Africa, 23 out of 37 countries in the sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) consumed on average less than the nutritional requirement for healthy living. About 38% of children under the age of five are affected by chronic malnutrition. The number of underweight children in the region increased from 29 million to 37 million between 1990 and 2003 whereas the proportion of underweight children under 5 dropped few percentage points from 32% to 28% between 1990 and 2006 [1].


Agricultural Mechanization in Nigeria

Importance of Agricultural Machinery to Agricultural Productivity

Agricultural mechanization embraces the use of tools, implements and machines for agricultural land development, crop production, harvesting, preparation for storage, storage, and on-farm processing. It includes three main power sources: human, animal, and mechanical. The manufacture, distribution, repair, maintenance, management and utilization of agricultural tools, implements and machines underscores the supply of mechanization inputs to farmers in an efficient and effective manner ( Mechanized agriculture therefore is the process of using agricultural machinery to increase farm productivity. In modern times, powered machinery has replaced many jobs previously executed by men or animals such as oxen, horses and mules ( The history of Nigerian agriculture contains many examples of application of traditional tools like in most other African countries [9].


Agricultural production is a major input and a catalyst for rural development [20]. Therefore, mechanization aims at:

increasing the power inputs to farming activities, hence putting more land into production;

reducing drudgery in farming activities, thereby enhancing lifestyles;

improving timeliness and efficiency of farm operations;

accomplishing tasks that are difficult to perform without mechanical aids;

Advances in Agriculture, Sciences and Engineering Research: Volume 3 (8) Aug: 1062 - 1076, 2013


improving the quality and value of work, produce and processed products;

providing employment (entrepreneurship) and sustainable rural livelihoods; and

providing agriculture-led industrialization and markets for rural economic growth.


Agricultural mechanization is not an end in itself, but a means of development. The goal is sustainable and socially-beneficial agricultural production.


Tillage is the mechanical manipulation of the soil, but in agriculture the term is usually restricted to the changing of soil conditions for crop production [21]. In every tillage operation, there are three factors that should be considered for the achievement of desired results: the personnel (operator), the tillage tool and the soil. The most important of these is the soil, followed by the tool [22]. Tillage has been described as the most costly single item in the budget of farmers [23].


Tillage is a process of creating a desirable soil condition for seed germination and growth [24]. Tillage can also be defined as a process aimed at creating a desirable final soil condition for seeds from some undesirable initial soil condition through manipulation of soil with the purpose of increasing crop yield [25]. Soil tilling is the most intensive of all processes involved in crop production [26]. Tillage of soil is considered to be one of the biggest farm operations [27]. There are several tillage implements used by farmers to prepare seedbed. However, the selection of tillage implements for seedbed preparation and weed control depends on soil type and condition, type of crop, previous soil treatments, crop residues and weed type [28].


Agricultural machinery has become increasingly important in carrying out farm works. The application of machines to agricultural production has been one of the outstanding developments in agriculture. Machinery contributes a major capital input cost in most farm businesses. Agricultural production is seasonal, leaving machines standing idle most of the time. There is the need for timely operations in agricultural production because of seasonal requirements of the crops.


The use of tractor today, is one of the most important power sources in agriculture. Effect of tractor power on agriculture is considerable [29]. With the increasing use of farm machinery, farm tractors play an important role in enhancing agricultural productivity [30]. Tractors and farm machinery are important samples of modern technology [31, 32]. Tractors are one of the fastest farm machines used by farmers for tillage operations instead of human tools and animal-drawn implements [33]. The quality of inputs of mechanization and consequently land and labor productivity in both situations may differ considerably [34].


Level of Mechanization in Nigeria

The present state of agricultural mechanization in Nigeria is still far from increasing farm earnings and productivity. This is because mechanization policy has not been formulated following a well designed, reliable and thorough analysis [35]. A study conducted in Nigeria [36] revealed that low production efficiency, drudgery, under utilization of mechanical power, and uses of old tractors with attendant periodic breakdown during operation, contributed to low level of mechanization with level varying between 27.6% and 40.3%. The study further revealed a productivity of 0.0951 ha/kWhr on a farm size of 520 hectare and a productivity of 0.0115 ha/kWhr on a farm size of 88 hectare, respectively. An average physical productivity (crop yield) varying between 1.2 and 1.7 tonnes per hectare for maize and between 11 and 13 tonnes per hectare for cassava was also underscored.


Nigeria has over the years, been recognized as a country for dumping of agricultural machines, tools and equipment that are no longer of value and not readily applicable to farming condition of their countries of origin. This has been practiced for so many years which has led to the high number of tractor breakdowns in the country and which has made many farmers to have no regard for the use of tractor power and thus then resolve to continue with the use of hand hoe and cutlass for the cultivation of land. Most places where tractor hiring operations are being rendered in the country, most of the available tractors are either not in good working condition or totally in their grounded state. All these are the disheartening experiences of farmers who had ones put their hope in the use of tractor power. At the end, the tractor power which would have been the only way to encourage farmers to cultivate large areas of land for commercial farming became a story of the past due to constant recurrence of tractor breakdowns. These farmers

Advances in Agriculture, Sciences and Engineering Research: Volume 3 (8) Aug: 1062 - 1076, 2013


are left with no other option, than to resort to the traditional way of farming which could only produce food for their immediate household [37].


Although mechanization can clearly influence production and the evolution of agricultural systems, its role in national development strategies has often been poorly defined. Nigeria is rated amongst the worlds poorest countries [38, 39] despite her abundant natural and human resources. This is based on low gross national product (GNP), high unemployment rate, low income per capita, crippling national debt and high inflation rate. The overdependence on one product (crude oil) which is subject to the vagaries of international markets coupled with unstable political situation in the country has continued to make the future more bleak and precarious. Without proper development of engineering practice for enhanced mechanized agriculture, Nigeria cannot expect to effectively develop its economy, or improve the standard of living of its people.



Africa is the only region in the world where agricultural productivity is largely stagnant. Experience in other continents and especially in the developing economies of Asia and Latin America show that agriculture has been transformed in recent years into a progressive commercial industry. Investment in agricultural mechanization has enabled farmers to intensify production and improve their quality of life as well contributing to national and local prosperity. Farm power in African agriculture, especially in Nigeria and other SSA countries, relies to an overwhelming extent on human muscle power, based on operations that depend on the hoe and other hand tools. Such tools have implicit limitations in term of energy and operational output in a tropical environment. The relationship between hand, animal and engine power sources in Africa compared with developing regions is shown in Table 2. In general, animal and tractor power have both declined in African agriculture in the past few years, making agriculture yet more reliant on manual methods in a continent where constraints such as health problems and demographics shifts make manual labour a scarce and weak resource. These methods place severe limitations on the amount of land that can be cultivated per family. They reduce the timeliness of farm operations and limit the efficacy of essential operations such as cultivation and weeding, thereby reducing crop yield [20].


In many parts of the Savannah belt of tropical Africa, the use of traditional hoe farming (manual tillage) and the use of draught animal technology for tillage operations characterize the small and medium scale farming. The use of tractor and its associated implements for tillage operations is still limited as the majority of farmers simply cannot afford it. Undoubtedly, this situation is the leading factor responsible for the inadequate supply of food and raw materials for agro-allied industries in many parts of Africa [40].


The number of tractors per unit of farmland in other developing countries is about ten times as many as the tractors per unit of farmland as those in sub-Saharan Africa. Current statistics indicate that there are about 470,000 tractors in Africa, but little is known about their age or working condition. The total number of working tractors would have to be about 3.5 million (7 times more) to put Africa on a par with other regions. Assuming that the existing tractors are all functional, the annual replacement rate should now be about 47,000 units/year (assuming a ten-year life). A simple calculation suggests that to bring the level of power to agriculture to that which other developing countries have achieved, this annual market would have to expand by a factor of about ten to approximately 400,000 tractors per year. Such a growth in tractor sales cannot be achieved immediately but could be in, say, 10 or 12 years. This would require urgent action to stimulate the market to attain sales of the order of 100,000 units per year within two or three years. As a comparison, tractor sales in India in 200506 were 264,790 units [20].


Table 2: Farm power sources (percentages)



Hand, %

Animal, %

Engine, %

Sub-Saharan Africa




3 other developing regions*




Source: [20]

* Asia, Near East and North Africa, Latin American and Caribbean

Advances in Agriculture, Sciences and Engineering Research: Volume 3 (8) Aug: 1062 - 1076, 2013


Soil Fertility

Maintenance of high crop yields under intensive cultivation is possible only through the use of fertilizer. However, the use of inorganic fertilizers alone has not been helpful under intensive agriculture because it aggravates soil degradation. The degradation is brought about by loss of organic matter which consequently results in soil acidity, nutrient imbalance and low crop yields. Nutrients contained in organic manures are released more slowly and are stored for a longer time in the soil, thereby ensuring a long residual effect [41]. Improvement of environmental conditions and public health concerns as well as the need to reduce cost of fertilizing crops are also important reasons for advocating increased use of organic materials [42].


In Nigeria, the shortage and high cost of inorganic fertilizer as put the commodity out of reach of most peasant farmers, leaving them with no other options than to look for cheaper alternatives of fertilizing their maize and other crops [43]. The role of organic manure in the maintenance of soil fertility has long been recognized in its slow release of balanced nutrients, improvements of soil physical properties and the amelioration of acidifying effect of inorganic fertilizer under continuous cultivation [44, 45]. The scarcity of inorganic fertilizer, coupled with its high prices when available has caused a lot of set-back to arable crop production in Nigeria. Animal and farm yard manure have been used to improve and supplement soil nutrients from time immemorial. The advent of inorganic fertilizer has almost eliminated the use of these manures by farmers as sources of plant nutrients and soil amendment because of its relative ease of application and quick results. Many farmers are so independent on inorganic fertilizers that they have become helpless and unable to produce crops profitably when the fertilizers are not available or affordable. Many workers have tried to access the importance of organic manures in crop production [46]. The use of poultry, plant and sheep/goat manures improved all the growth parameters of the leaf vegetable they worked with [47]. Other workers have reported beneficial effects of organic manure on soil properties such as bulk density [48]; soil moisture content [49]; water-holding capacity and other soil physical properties [48].


A lot of organic manures lie wasted in rural areas in Nigeria and even in developing urban centres and mega-cities like Lagos and Ibadan. They are usually dumped around farmsteads and sawmills. Some of these organic wastes are burnt periodically while others are just dumped on the ground surface, increasing the problem of environmental pollution and constituting health hazards. Many materials which are waste products of agricultural enterprises and the saw-mill industry can be used beneficially to produce crops and amend the soil for sustainable crop production [46]. In the study carried out on an okra farmland, study revealed that okra producers can grow good crops without using inorganic fertilizers on Alfisols by taking the advantage of using the abundant waste products of the saw-mill industry and poultry wastes which are also abundant in this area [46]. The organic materials presently wasting in our various areas could be converted as wealth by using them as organic fertilizers [46].


Farming through the use of Irrigation facility

In 2012, Nigeria recorded a very low agricultural productivity due to the flood event that destroyed all farms throughout the nation. It was a total loss for Nigerian farmers. This became a great concern to the Nigeria government, and the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, His Excellency, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan promised to focus on irrigation farming in the years ahead since the issue of flood is a phenomenon resulting from climate change. Although, irrigation on its own requires the knowledge of creating dams as water storage reservoir that will handle the next cropping season in the absence of rainfall. Agricultural engineers into soil and water conservation option are the ones that can really be of help in seeing to how irrigation farming can boost food production in Nigeria. It is a known fact that the entire African continent depends on rain-fed agriculture. By focusing on irrigation farming, Nigeria stands the chance of ensuring food security for her ever teeming population. Therefore, agricultural engineers are to work with civil engineers in designing and constructing befitting dams throughout the nation that is capable of handling the quantity of water needed for use in generating the expected amount of crop yield that will meet the nations demand.

Challenges and Opportunities: Ensuring Food Security in Nigeria

An Underdeveloped Agricultural Sector

The major challenge to food security in Nigeria and other African countries is its underdeveloped agricultural sector that is characterized by over-reliance on primary agriculture, low fertility soils, minimal use of external farm


Advances in Agriculture, Sciences and Engineering Research: Volume 3 (8) Aug: 1062 - 1076, 2013


inputs, environmental degradation, significant food crop loss both pre-and post-harvest, minimal value addition and product


differentiation, and inadequate food storage an preservation that result in significant commodity price fluctuation. Ninety five per cent of the food in Sub-Saharan Africa is grown under rain fed agriculture [50]. Hence food production is vulnerable to adverse weather conditions. There is an overall decline in farm input investment including fertilizers, seeds, and technology adoption. Access to fertilizer use is constrained by market liberalization and trade policies that increase fertilizer prices relative to commodity prices, limited access to markets and infrastructure, limited development of output, input and credit markets, poverty and cash constraints that limit farmers ability to purchase fertilizer and other inputs [51].


Low Productivity and increasing Technology divide

The use of improved technologies in African agriculture with Nigeria inclusive is limited. The region experiences the lowest level of improved inputs use per unit of land in the world and should urgently set targets in order to promote their use [1]. Only 14% of Africas 184 million hectares of arable land were cultivated in 2002. Fertilizer use should be raised from the currently low level. Similarly, the use of tractors, which now stands at 13 per 100 km2 compared to 89 per 100 km2 in East Asia, should be increased to acceptable levels. The continent also needs to increase the use of improved seeds and improved livestock to enhance yields to competitive levels.


Water greatly contributes to agriculture. Nigeria and other African countries have substantial water resources although not evenly distributed among the sub-regions. Despite existing irrigation potentials however, agriculture remains mostly 93% rain fed with a high risk of drought and crop failure; only 7% of the arable lands are under irrigation and only 4% of the water reserves are used. Likewise the crop-livestock systems are constrained by lack of proper feed, diseases and poor genetic potentials.


High post harvest losses characterize agricultural (crop, livestock and fishery) production in Africa and could be as high as 15% in cereals, pulses and oilseeds, up to 30% in roots and tubers, and up to 40% in some fruits and vegetables. Some estimates put post-harvest losses in the fishery and aquaculture sectors at 20% to 25%, which means that the productivity of Nigeria and other African countries fisheries can be increased substantially by improving post harvest management [1].


High Level Risk in Farming due to Climate Change and Pests and Diseases

Climate has a strong influence on agricultural production, considered as the most weather-dependent of all human activities, with socio-economical impacts whose severity varies from one region to another [52]. The effects of climate change on food insecurity have in recent times become topical discourse. Agriculture and climate change are uniquely interrelated, viz: agriculture is a victim of climate change. Agriculture is the most important source of greenhouse gas emission contributing more than any other industry to global warming. Climate change affects agriculture in a number of ways. Carbon dioxide is a plant fertilizer which acts to stimulate plant growth [53].


Climate change is expected to have perverse effects on agriculture, forestry and fisheries in most regions of Africa through more frequent extreme weather phenomenon such as floods and droughts, but it will also create new and better conditions in other parts of the continent where rainfall and other climate parameters may improve. The 2007 Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimates that Africa will be the most vulnerable to climate change globally, due to the multiple stresses of poor infrastructure, poverty and governance. Crop yields in rain fed systems in sub-Saharan Africa could fall by 50% by the year 2020 whilst crop revenue is forecast to fall by as much as 90% by 2100. In addition coverage of arid and semi arid could expand by 60 80 Mha. Another major constraint to agricultural productivity is the threat of transboundary pests and diseases [1].


Mechanizing Agriculture

As a major agricultural production input and a catalyst for rural development, mechanization aims to: increase the power inputs to farming activities, hence putting more land into production; reduce drudgery in farming activities, thereby enhancing lifestyles; improve the timeliness and efficiency of farm operations; accomplish tasks that are difficult to perform without mechanical aids; improve the quality and value of work, produce and processed

Advances in Agriculture, Sciences and Engineering Research: Volume 3 (8) Aug: 1062 - 1076, 2013


products; provide employment (entrepreneurship) and sustainable rural livelihoods; and provide agriculture-led industrialization and markets for rural economic growth.


The exportation of processed agricultural produce will develop the agricultural sector of any sector. Food processing industries alone can provide employment to the unemployed directly or indirectly if local processing equipment is encouraged and supported by the Government. This would help in minimizing food losses and wastages [54].


There is need for Government to be more consistent in policy implementation and regulatory activities on agricultural produce. Furthermore, Government should invest more on appropriate technology for post-harvest operations and handling of agricultural produce [54].


In Nigeria, there are lots of small-scale agro-processing industries which make use of low capacity agro-processing machines. These agro-processing machines need to be upgraded so as to meet the demand of the ever teeming population of the country. The upgrading of these agro-processing machines would also provide room for the exportation of food products to other nations for the purpose of increasing the countrys earning through foreign exchange.


The Agricultural Machinery Industry

In Africas hand-hoe-powered agriculture, it is hardly surprising that very little industrial development has taken place to manufacture or even assemble machinery for agriculture. A few farm tool and implement factories have been established, mainly in South Africa, Zambia, Kenya and Zimbabwe. Few efforts in other countries have survived competition from the importation of low-cost tools from countries in other continents (e.g. China and India). The manufacture and even assembly of tractors and irrigation pumps has been limited to a very few underperforming enterprises, mainly in North Africa. It is clear that, if the tractor and irrigation markets could be expanded, the opportunities for African manufacturing industry would also expand. In fact, if the tractor market envisaged in tractor numbers could be established, there would be ample scope for tractor assembly, component substitution and, eventually, tractor manufacture in Nigeria and other African countries. At the same time, the number of implements that would be required could stimulate the growth of implement manufacture on a wide scale across the continent [20].


Irrigation as a Catalyst for Mechanization

Apart from low power inputs, Nigeria and other African countries agriculture suffers from a lack of investment in irrigation compared with other regions of the world. Only about 5% of Africas arable land is irrigated, while in India the figure is 40%. Other parts of the developing world average about 30%. In a changing climate, irrigation is likely to become even more important. This suggests that increasing the irrigated area in Africa by a factor of about ten would not be excessive, and it would make a major contribution to agricultural productivity. Investment in large irrigation schemes would be a long-term process but much might be achieved in small schemes for small groups of farms. In mechanization terms, this suggests a substantial opportunity for sales of pumps, diesel engines and related equipment. This is a parallel mechanization opportunity, a challenge for local African manufacturing industry to take on [20].


Food Processing and Value Addition

Farmers produce raw materials for the food market. Agro-industries add value to produce, and they are an essential component of the value chain in modern economies. The development of small-scale processing industries in rural communities would help add value close to the source of raw materials. Rural industry would grow to benefit the rural communities, initiating the path towards commercialization of agriculture. This would reduce the current high levels of waste of fresh produce and would encourage producers to participate in rural commercial economies [20].


Handicapping Agricultural Mechanization Policies

Poor agricultural mechanization policies have greatly affected the food security in Nigeria and other African countries. In Nigeria several good policies have been in place for agricultural mechanization in years back, but the only problem they had then was on how to effectively implement these good agricultural mechanization policies toenhance agricultural productivity in Nigeria. When policies are not inclusive in their design they tend to handicap

Advances in Agriculture, Sciences and Engineering Research: Volume 3 (8) Aug: 1062 - 1076, 2013


the exempted lot by providing barriers. One such way in which this may take place is uneven development within countries where certain regions are preferentially developed for political reasons at the expense of others.


Disease and Infection

Disease and infection continue to plague the African continent. Diseases such as malaria, tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS not only reduce the man-hours available to agriculture and household food acquisition, but also increase the burden of household in acquiring food. In Sub-Saharan Africa, AIDS is the leading cause of adult mortality and morbidity. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), estimates that by 2020 the epidemic will claim the lives of 20% or more of the population working in agriculture in many Southern African countries. More than two thirds of the total population of the 25 most affected countries resides in rural areas, affecting agricultural production as well as farm and domestic labour supplies [55]. Lack of resources also makes it more difficult for HIV-affected households to supplement their diet through the purchase of more nutritious and varied foods. The effect of malnutrition on food security is further exacerbated by the fact that individuals affected by disease and infection, have greater nutritional requirements.


Increasing Environmental and Resource Degradation

The combination of shorter fallows, expansion to more fragile land driven by rapid population growth, and a lack of fertilizer use has resulted in severe soil degradation in sub-Saharan Africa. About 75% of the farmland is affected by severe mining of soil nutrients. Africa accounts for 27% of the degraded land in the world, mainly due to insecurity of land tenure and lack of adequate promotion of soil and water conservation measures. Before expanding cultivated areas, governments should put emphasis on soil and water conservation measures and create incentives for the effective participation of communities and individual farmers. There are also concerns about overfishing in inland waters, where habitats are degrading, water supplies are diminishing, and pollution is increasing [1].


Deforestation is the second most important source of greenhouse gas emission in the world, contributing about 18% to the anthropogenic global warming. About 14% results from farming at the present scale of hectarage, thus making agriculture by far the single most important source of greenhouse emission. This may not be discountenanced in any climate policy. Hence, it becomes obvious that there is need for agricultural climate policy. Tropical and sub-tropical regions agricultural production will suffer most due to continued global warming, the regions where hunger and malnutrition are already prevalent, thus exacerbating food imports [9].


Forestry is a major supplier of domestic energy needs in Africa, providing, in many countries, more than 75% of domestic energy needs for cooking, heating and other uses. While many African governments are increasingly showing political will to address the sector problems, this commitment has not been matched by adequate financial and human resource allocations to the sector. Insufficient incentives to the private sector have also contributed to a lack of support to dealing effectively and efficiently with the many difficulties facing the sector. As a result, deforestation and forest degradation has been on the increase in the humid and dry areas in Africa, and as such they remain key challenges for the attainment of environmental sustainability in Africa. The neglect of the sector is compromising and will continue to compromise economic development given the importance it has for soil and water conservation and energy [1].


Changing Rural Population

Africa has left a legacy of poverty and hunger due to the failure of Africas economy to grow as rapidly as the rest of the developing world. The low growth has not only reduced domestic resources available for investing in infrastructure, agricultural development, health, education and nutrition, but it has also aggravated the HIV/AIDS crisis, which involves a vicious spiral of poverty and disease with the consequence of depleting agricultural work force and therefore the productive capacity. Migration has been affecting the population structure and labor force in the agricultural sector. Currently, approximately 38% of the sub-Saharan Africas population lives in urban areas. By 2030, it is predicted that almost half of the population will be urban. While this trend could be mostly ascribed to rural-urban migration which drains the youthful labor force from rural areas, the root cause is poverty and degraded natural resource base. One major consequence is an aging and decreasing agricultural labor force that is

expected to produce enough food for an increasing urban population. Furthermore, migration has contributed to a trend called feminization of the agricultural sector, referring to the fact that more men than women are leaving

Advances in Agriculture, Sciences and Engineering Research: Volume 3 (8) Aug: 1062 - 1076, 2013


the agricultural sector and the rural areas. Eighty percent of the basic food is produced by women in sub-Saharan Africa. There is therefore a need to design policies that would make it possible for both male and female farmers to have equal access to improved production technologies and other productive assets [1].



Agriculture contributes to the growth of the economy, provides employment opportunities for the teaming population, export revenue earnings and eradicates poverty in the economy. Nigeria and other African countries agriculture have enormous potential for growth because of its abundant natural resources, namely land and water. Africa has also responded to a better macroeconomic environment, and improved price incentives brought about inter alia by reduced taxation of agriculture and higher world prices. For Africas agriculture to achieve its positive prospects of reducing malnutrition and poverty, there is need to quickly address challenges which include widening technology divide, poor infrastructure, declining technical capacity, and high incidence and prevalence of HIV/AIDS and other diseases. Strengthening capacity to develop and use improved agricultural technologies, improving farmers access to water and modern inputs, building and maintaining rural infrastructure, connecting smallholders to markets and helping them to adapt to new and evolving business environment so as to become more productive, reducing risk and vulnerability especially to extreme weather variations and price swings, and increasing access to financial resources, assets and skills will be priority actions needed to ensure that agricultural and rural growth goes hand in hand with poverty reduction. To this end there would be a need to boost investments from both public and private sectors alike in a win-win partnership.


With the low level of agricultural mechanization practice in Nigeria it is doubtful if it would be able to meet its future demands if her agricultural mechanization level remains in the rudimentary state. Developed nations with their fast developing technologies in the area of agricultural mechanization can contribute to uplifting Nigerian agriculture through well articulated and sustainable developmental policies in agricultural mechanization. There are presently several companies in the developed nations that are into research and development and manufacture of agricultural tractors and implements for home use and international markets. This would continually alleviate farmers from the tedium of use of hand hoes and cutlasses.


Nigeria in her present state would also appreciate the cooperation of any of the developed nation government in setting up lots of tractors and implements manufacturing companies in Nigeria which would further empower young Nigerians and thereby reduce the high poverty and unemployment rate prevailing in the country today. With the setting up of these manufacturing companies in Nigeria, the country also stands the chance of increasing her agricultural mechanization level through the involvement of tractorization in every part of the country. Moreso, most of the problems faced with the non-availability of tractor and implement spare parts in Nigeria would be solved as these companies would make available the tractor and implement spare parts. Effort alone should not be put on the establishment of these tractor and implement manufacturing companies in Nigeria through foreign intervention, but Government should mandate the various production centers in existence such as NASENI, NCAM, PRODA, NMT, to design and develop these needed machines on a time frame. Government must indicate the machineries required and specify the due date for the development of these machineries. Faculties and Schools of Engineering and Technology, as well as research institutes all over the country who had hitherto being carrying out unguided research for publishing esoteric papers aimed at promotion can now be involved and channeled to produce needed machineries. It is however obvious that the criteria for advancement and promotion in these institutions must change to reflect concrete material contribution to national development. This does not however imply that fundamental research should be jettisoned as this is also necessary for sustaining and advancing scientific technological development.


Another key area of major concern is on how to improve on the agricultural nature of our soil in Nigeria which is being characterized by its low productivity level. Almost 63% of Nigeria agricultural soils are low in productivity, and over 95% are alfisols and ultisols which are low in organic matter and have low activity in clays. All these pose danger to increase in agricultural productivity in Nigeria. More emphasizes must be laid on improving our soil if truly we want our soil to generate the expected amount of crop yield their counterparts in the outside world (developed countries) obtained on their fields. It is high time, agricultural engineers stands on their feet to ensure that the level of mechanization is improved upon to ensure food security in Nigeria. This alone is not limited to the agricultural engineers alone, but also to the soil scientists who have a lot of work to do in ensuring the low fertility

Advances in Agriculture, Sciences and Engineering Research: Volume 3 (8) Aug: 1062 - 1076, 2013


nature of our soil in Nigeria is ameliorated through the use of organic manure which several studies have confirmed reliable in terms of efficiency and affordability when compared to the use of inorganic fertilizer which has turned out to be a scarce commodity in most part of Nigerian markets due to political reasons. These inorganic fertilizers

available in the market are either sold at extremely high rate or stolen by politician farmers which make it out of reach to the farmers who are meant to increase the level of crop production in Nigeria.


Agricultural engineers and civil engineers in Nigeria can rescue the nation from disastrous event like flood which results in loss of lives and properties. With the construction of dams throughout the nation for growing crops during the off-raining season will definitely prevent our farm sites from being flooded by rain. Therefore, irrigation farming system in Nigeria must be encouraged.



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