Importance of Agriculture in Nigeria and its benefits
Another vital feature of agriculture is its permanency. Minerals, continuously mined, are sure to be exhausted one day but this is not the case with agriculture. Crops have been raised since the earliest times and they are still being grown. The soil, carefully maintained, is a flow resource that is renewable, and can even be improved.
Though Man cannot overcome all the limitations his environment imposes upon him, he can always attempt to modify it to suit his convenience. In this manner of gradual adaptation, Man has brought about many changes.
Agriculture plays an important role in the development of all nations. The importance of agriculture in Nigeria includes :
•Food supply : Food is important for growth, repair of damaged body cells and provision of energy. The bulk of the materials that perform these roles are derived from foods which are taken in the form of plant and animal products. It is only through agriculture that man can feed. A nation that can feed its population can save a lot of money for other goods and services that are not provided through agriculture. As a result of self-sufficiency in the provision of food to feed the population, dept burden on the nation is reduced.
•Provision of employment : In most underdeveloped nations, about 75% of the able-bodied men lack industrial skills .Agriculture provides ready employment for these people, who normally live in the rural areas. It also provides job opportunities for others such as the scientists who investigate agricultural problems, workers in industries that use agricultural raw materials for the production of their goods and the traders — middlemen, transporters, retailers — engaged in the marketing of agricultural products.
•Provision of raw materials for industries : Agriculture is the source of raw materials for much of the secondary production (industrial) sector of the economy. Agro-based industries are industries which depend on agriculture for their raw materials. Examples of agro-based and the raw materials used in such industries are :
(1).Tannery factories depend on hides and skin for the production of bags, shoes, belts, etcetera.
(2).Tyre industries depend on natural rubber for the production of tyres and tubes for vehicles.
(3).Furniture industries depend on timber from the forest for the production of tables, chairs etcetera.
(4).Beverage industries such as Milo, bournvita, ovaltine, etcetera, depend on cocoa, coffee, tea, etcetera, for the production of several food drinks.
(5).Tobacco industries depend on tobacco for the production of cigars and cigarettes.
(6).Paper industries depend on pulpwood for the production of paper.
(7).Sugar industries depend on sugar cane for the production of sugar.
(8).Textile industries depend on wool, silk, fur and cotton for the production of clothing materials.
(9).Fruit canning industries depend on fruits for the production of canned fruits.
(10).Breweries industries depend on cereals for the production of beer, malt drinks, energy drinks, etcetera.
•Personal income : The sale of agricultural products in the local market provides much desired income for farmers. If agriculture is well developed, it can increase individual incomes throughout the whole economic sector, since most people are in one way or another connected with agriculture.
•Foreign exchange : The purchasing power of any country depends upon what it can sell to pay for imports. Money earned from the sale of agricultural products and the customs revenue gained from the foreign trade, to which agriculture contributes, is used for meeting the cost of social services and development schemes. Agriculture therefore, helps to provide the money and material needed for industrialization and for bringing the country into the technological age. The development of agricultural exports will minimize dependence on crude oil with its fluctuating prices.
•Provision of materials for clothing : Agriculture provides fibre, cotton, wool, silk and fur for clothing. It also provides hides and skin for clothing, shoes, belts, caps and bags.
•Provision of materials for shelter : Agriculture provides materials essential for building. It also provides materials required for furniture.
•Development of towns : Development occurs where commercial agriculture exists, as social amenities like electricity and pipe borne water will be provided. Good roads are also provided and it may result in the establishment of agro-based industries in such towns or villages.
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