Agriculture as an indigenous occupation in Nigeria has gone through various phases of development. This development spans three phases from pre-colonial, post-colonial and development till date.
According to the Central Bank of Nigeria in 2016, the sector in the 1960’s contributed 85% of the Nigeria foreign exchange earnings, 90% employment generation, and about 80% to gross domestic product. Available data also confirms that at independence in 1960, the contribution of agriculture to the GDP was about 60%, which is typical for developing agrarian nations.
This development has prompted both federal and state governments to initiate several agricultural policies/projects and programs to enhance agricultural productivity in Nigeria. A policy is a deliberate plan of action to guide decisions and achieve rational outcomes.
The establishment of the Department of Botanical Research in 1893 in the former Western Nigeria is the first notable activity of the era. The Department was saddled with the responsibility of conducting research in Agriculture.
In 1905, the British Cotton Growers Association acquired 10.35 square kilometres of land at the site now called Moor Plantation, Ibadan for growing cotton to feed the British Textile Mills.
In 1910, Moor Plantation, Ibadan became the headquarters of the Department of Agriculture in Southern Nigeria, and a Department of Agriculture was established in the North in 1912.
In 1921, a unified Department of Agriculture was formed in Nigeria, after the amalgamation of the North and the South to increase production of export crops for the British market which was ready to absorb it for its industrial growth.
In 1941, A fisheries organization was established as a Fisheries Development Branch of the Agricultural Department of the Colonial Office and a Senior Agricultural Officer was appointed to conduct a survey of the industry and its possibilities.
The Fisheries Development Branch headquarters was sited at Apese village and later at Onikan in Lagos, from where, assisted by a part-time voluntary officer, preliminary experiments in fish culture in brackish water ponds at Onikan were carried out and surveys were conducted on the canoe fisheries of Apese village and Kuramo waters around Victoria Island, Lagos.
Lagos State is the smallest and most populated state in Nigeria with over 22 million residents and an average spread of about 6,000 persons per km2. It has a total land area of 347,500 Ha with 180km of Atlantic Ocean Coastline most ideal for fishing, coconut development and tourism. Creeks and water bodies constitute 75,755Ha and about 22% of the land mass. A total cultivable land area of 169,613Ha out of which 50,884Ha (30%) is under cultivation. 45% of Lagos population are sub-urban dwellers who are involved in various agricultural value chains.
The dominant vegetation of the State is the swamp forest of the fresh water and mangrove
swamp forests, both of which are influenced by the double rainfall pattern of the state, which
makes the environment a wetland region. Generally, the State has two climatic seasons: Dry
[November-March] and Wet [April-October]. The drainage system of the State is characterized
by a maze of lagoons and waterways, which constitutes about 22% or 787 sq. km. [75.755
hectares] of the State’s territory. The major water bodies are the Lagos and Lekki Lagoons,
Yewa, Ogun, Oshun, and Kweme Rivers. Others are Ologe Lagoon, Kuramo Waters, and
Badagry, Five Cowries and Omu Creeks respectively
The Agricultural Sector in the State has evolved through several decades from when the State was created in 1967. The policy focus then, at the inception of the Lagos State Ministry of Agriculture was on direct production by the State. For many reasons, over the years, the policy thrust changed from direct production to provision of conducive environment for private sector investment. Many specialized agencies were established to oversee specific areas in the Sector. These Agencies include Lagos State Coconut Development Authority (LASCODA), Agricultural Land Holding Authority (ALHA), Lagos State Input Supply Authority (LAISA) and Lagos State Agricultural Development Authority (LSADA).
Lagos State with a population growth rate of 3.2% per annum currently produce less than 20% (on the aggregate) of the food items consumed in the State within its boundaries. The obvious supply gaps are usually met with supply of food stuffs from other States of the Federation and other countries. Generally, the State’s strength is in the midstream and downstream sectors of all agricultural value chains, however, she also has comparative ecological and socio-economic advantage in the upstream sector of Fisheries, Poultry, Piggery, Coconut and Vegetables. Presently, the State has over 600,000 farming families along the value chains (producers, processors, marketers and service providers).