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SME Guide

Expanding Agricultural Output in Nigeria Through Modernization and Technology Adoption


Agriculture is a cornerstone of the Nigerian economy, contributing around 24% of GDP and employing 36% of the workforce. However, the sector remains characterized by low productivity, high post-harvest losses, climate vulnerability and supply chain inefficiencies. With Nigeria’s rapidly growing population, investing in agricultural modernization and innovation is imperative to boost productivity, enhance competitiveness and achieve domestic food security. This article analyses emerging technology trends and strategic policy interventions that can catalyse large-scale agricultural transformation.

Mechanization to Optimize Farm Operations

Nigerian agriculture is predominantly smallholder, with 90% of farms below 2 hectares. These fragmented landholdings result in low economies of scale. Mechanization can enhance efficiency and acreage under cultivation. Key interventions involve:

  • Tractor Leasing Models: Facilitating access to tractors and implements through public-private partnerships and cooperative-based models, as done by companies like Hello Tractor.
  • Testing Facilities: Establishing testing centers for evaluating suitability of farm machinery to local conditions, as pioneered by NCAM.
  • Localized Equipment: Promoting R&D and domestic manufacturing of adapted machinery affordable for small farms. Policy incentives are required.
  • Women Empowerment: Prioritizing gender-friendly tools and financing access to enable greater mechanization on women-owned farms.
  • Operator Training: Scaling programs like TELA Maize that skill youth as tractor service providers for hire.
  • Equipment Hubs: Creating farm machinery banks for rental access by small farmers to encourage collective use.

Modern Irrigation Infrastructure

Nigeria has only around 220,000 hectares under irrigation compared to an estimated 3 million hectares potential. Large investments into water control systems are needed through:

  • Micro-Irrigation: Solar-powered drip and sprinkler methods that economize water. Government can subsidize installation under initiatives like NLMIS.
  • Water Users Associations: Promoting community management models of small irrigation infrastructure for ownership and maintenance.
  • Irrigation Scheduling: Using sensor-based systems and agricultural meteorology data for optimal timing and volume of irrigation.
  • Canal Networks: Expanding canal coverage for efficient water delivery, especially in northern regions. GIS mapping and planning tools can systematically identify gaps.
  • On-Farm Water Management: Building contour bunds, farm ponds and other structures to capture and retain rainfall and prevent runoff.
  • Partnerships: Collaborations with irrigation corporations can accelerate know-how transfer for large projects. MOUs also enable technology import.

Precision Agriculture with Digital Tools

Emerging digital and data-driven solutions can enhance farm-level decision-making and reduce risks. Key interventions needed include:

  • Agtech Startup Support: Incubators, financing and pilots to test innovative precision agriculture technologies. Partnerships with farmer associations expedite adoption.
  • Agricultural Big Data: Government data platforms like e-Wallet and AFEX that capture farm metrics and provide analytics services.
  • Farm Management Software: Subsidizing packages that enable individual farmers to digitize record keeping, access advisory, track field-level inputs and progress.
  • IoT Sensors: Promoting soil, water, microclimate sensors that optimize inputs based on environmental conditions and crop needs.
  • Geospatial Intelligence: Satellite imagery and drones powered crop health monitoring, as piloted via programs like ILRI and Hello Tractor.
  • Blockchain Traceability: Supply chain digitization enhances traceability, provenance verification and market linkages, as demonstrated by AfriBlock pilots.

Sustainable Farming Practices

Traditional techniques coupled with climate risks are depleting Nigeria’s agricultural productivity. Eco-friendly modern farming approaches are vital and should be propagated through:

  • Extension Programs: Training on zero-budget natural farming, permaculture, agroforestry and regenerative agriculture to enrich soils, minimize water usage and lower input costs.
  • Soil Testing: Expanding investments into mobile soil testing labs that provide site-specific input recommendations for optimal fertility management.
  • Organic Fertilizers: Promoting composting, and use of manure-based nutrients to reduce reliance on expensive chemicals that damage long-term soil health.
  • Agroecology Tech: Incubating startups providing organic solutions, for instance, waste-to-organic fertilizer conversion. Early-stage grants and kiosk models can aid distribution.
  • Renewable Energy: Solar irrigation pumps, biomass-based power for cold storage and farm machinery to lower environmental footprint. Hybrid mini-grids also deliver energy access.
  • Carbon Credits: Piloting farmer cooperatives as vehicles for generating carbon credits through nature-based farming. Provides additional revenue stream.

Agro-Processing and Supply Chain Upgrades

High post-harvest losses of 30-40% for fruits and vegetables need to be tackled through processing and cold chain infrastructure via:

  • Special Agro-zones: Attracting agro-industry investments into designated food processing zones with serviced land, plug-and-play infrastructure and incentives.
  • Modern Storage: Warehousing investments near producing regions with CLA-compliant scientific storage integrating sorting, grading and palletisation.
  • Primary Processing: Decentralized independent centres providing early-stage value-addition like cleaning, drying, grinding, and extraction near farms. Saves post-harvest losses.
  • Packaging Technology: Piloting crates with moisture absorbers, antimicrobial coatings and other innovations tailored for local crops through R&D institutions like NIHORT.
  • Cold Chain Infrastructure: Solar-powered cold storage coupled with refrigerated transport connectivity for perishable horticulture, dairy, meat and fish.
  • Quality Testing Labs: Expanding network of accredited testing labs to support food safety, and traceability and enable access to export markets.


Transforming Nigerian agriculture requires a systemic approach encompassing mechanization, irrigation, precision farming, sustainability practices and supply chain upgrades. The government can catalyse this agricultural modernization through liberal financing, policy reforms and PPP models for technology integration. With innovation and strategic long-term investments, Nigeria can usher in a 21st century agri-food systems revolution that drives food security, exports and rural prosperity.



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