Although it depends heavily on the oil industry for its budgetary revenues, Nigeria is predominantly still an agricultural society. Approximately 70 percent of the population engages in agricultural production at a subsistence level. Agricultural holdings are generally small and scattered. Agriculture provided 41 percent of Nigeria’s total gross domestic product (GDP) in 1999. This percentage represented a normal decrease of 24.7 percent from its contribution of 65.7 percent to the GDP in 1957. The decrease will continue because, as economic development occurs, the relative size of the agricultural sector usually decreases.
Nigeria’s wide range of climate variations allows it to produce a variety of food and cash crops . The staple food crops include cassava, yams, corn, coco-yams, cow-peas, beans, sweet potatoes, millet, plantains, bananas, rice, sorghum, and a variety of fruits and vegetables. The leading cash crops are cocoa, citrus, cotton, groundnuts (peanuts), palm oil, palm kernel, benniseed, and rubber. They were also Nigeria’s major exports in the 1960s and early 1970s until petroleum surpassed them in the 1970s. Chief among the export destinations for Nigerian agricultural exports are Britain, the United States, Canada, France, and Germany.
Creation of jobs. Particularly important is the fact that residents of rural areas are provided with jobs. Statistics of 2010 showed that 30% of the population were engaged in agriculture. This indicator is constantly growing.
Another important role of agriculture is a source of foreign currency, the most important for most countries. This is mainly contributed by the export of cocoa and other cash crops.
Diversification of the economy. As a result of the decline in oil prices, the current economic situation can be considered the most suitable time for diversification. Nigeria has enough natural and human potential. All that needed is a serious investment in agriculture.
Food security. Foodstuffs, their production, distribution, exchange, and consumption are important parts of the functioning of the world system.
Supplying other industries with raw materials. Cultivation of cotton, oil palm, and other plants promotes the development of other industries that depend on this raw materials. Also, wool and yarn are used in different industries.