Despite the steady growth in the value of Nigeria’s agriculture exports over the last three years (2016 to 2018), the country’s agriculture exports to total exports remained below 2%. Consequently, oil revenue continue to account for more than 80% of total value of annual exports. However, the agriculture industry contributed approximately 25% to total GDP in 2018 while the oil sector’s share of total economic output was 8.6% over the same period.Since the agriculture sector is the largest contributor to Nigeria’s GDP,unlocking the potential of agricultural exports is key.
Between 2016 and 2018, the country’s total agriculture exports was driven by export of sesame seeds, fermented cocoa beans, cashew nuts, ginger,crude palm kernel oil, soya beans, frozen shrimps and prawns, among other commodities. Cumulatively, the country earned N0.53 trillion from agriculture export between 2016 and 2018. In contrast, Nigeria’s total agriculture import bill over the same period stood at N2.39 trillion.As a result, agriculture trade deficit stood at N1.86 trillion.Thus, the country is a net food importer.
In 2016, total agriculture exports stood at N60.7 billion or 0.7% of total exports for the period. In 2017, total agricultural exports grew by 180.7% over the previous year to close at N170.4 billion and it accounted for 1.3% of total exports. By 2018, agriculture exports increased by 77% over 2017 to close at N302.3 billion, and accounted for 1.6% of total exports.The country’s total exports has been driven by crude oil exports. In 2018,crude oil exports accounted for 82.3% of total export revenues while agriculture exports accounted for just 1.6%.With the Federal Government’s intent on diversifying the economy away from oil, there has been renewed interest in the agricultural sector as a critical sector to lead the charge.