Cash crops in Nigeria and where they are found

Agriculture is one of the most important sectors of Nigeria’s economy. More that 70% of the labor force is concentrated in the agriculture sector. It mostly depends on the small and scattered agricultural farms. The products that they yield are divided into two groups - food crops and industrial crops. The latter can also be referred to as cash crops or export crops.

Agriculture in Nigeria

More than 30% of the population are employed thanks to the agriculture sector. Around 33% of the land area in Nigeria is under cultivation. Around two-thirds of the crops production is contributed by small farms. They use simple production techniques, and usually, the areas are no bigger than two hectares. Farmers either use food crops for home consumption or sale. They spend a lot of time on the farm - usually, it can be the only source of food and money.

The agriculture sector of Nigeria is improving rapidly. The government is making efforts in order to develop the agriculture sector.There are some industrial improvements that will make crops cultivation cheaper and easier.

List of cash crops in Nigeria


There are different cash crops in Nigeria.
There are root cash crops such as:
Taro (cocoyams);
Cassava; Yams;
Sweet potatoes.

And tree crops such as:
Oil Palm.
The tree crops are very popular and are the main cash crops of the country, especially cacao and oil palm. The are used to produce cocoa and palm wine.

As previously mentioned, smallholder farmers contribute a lot to the agricultural sector of the country. They grow yams, cowpeas, sorghum, cassava, corn, millet, cocoyams and sweet potatoes on the farms.

In fact, in 2010, Nigeria was the world’s largest producer of sorghum. Currently, it is the biggest producer of Shea nuts. The country is also second largest producer of millet, sweet potato, cashew nuts, groundnut, the third in producing palm kernels and fourth in producing cocoa beans.

Where can the cash crops be found?

There is a wide variety of plants that can be cultivated in Nigeria because of the country’s climate. Most of the cash crops are the ones that can be grown in the tropical and the semitropical areas.

Nigeria is divided into several areas where different crops (both food and industrial) are produced.

Moist areas

Due to the West African climate, the root crops are mostly found in the southern area. Because of the heavy rainfall and relatively short dry seasons, the area is favorable for crops.

The southwest is mostly ‘occupied’ with the cacao trees, the resource of cocoa. The oil palms are growing in the south-central area and the southeast. They are used to make palm wine. The rubber, one of the main products, is cultivated in the south-central and southeastern parts of the country.

Dry areas

The other part of Nigeria, the north, is mostly dry for five to seven months. But people still manage to grow cash crops in this area. Guinea corn, millet, and cowpeas . Rice is mostly cultivated in the lowland areas. In facts, corn is cultivated there too.

The middle belt

The middle belt is also known as the Guinea savanna region. There are yams, millet, cassava, corn, rice, sorghum and cowpeas. There is also sesame, which is considered one of the most important cash crops in the Guinea savanna region. It is also called beniseed.

As you can see, cash crops are cultivated all over Nigeria. They are significant to the country’s economy.

Non-oil cash crops

Cash crops are usually exported to various countries. The most popular are the oil products (one of them is olive palm), but the non-oil crops are in demand too. What are they?


After a boost from the Federal Government of Nigeria, the cotton production sector has increased rapidly. The NACOTAN (National Cotton Association of Nigeria) received millions of naira to develop the area further.

Shea butter

Shea butter is produced from Shea nut, a crop that is quite popular in Nigeria. It is gaining popularity around the world, especially in Japan.

Cassava flour

The cassava flour is used worldwide. It is gluten-free, grain-free so it is no wonder it became so popular among people. It is used to make cakes and breads. It is similar to wheat flour although it mild and neutral in flavor. Because of all these factors, it gained a momentum and now is in high demand. It is made from the cassava root and is similar to yam and taro.


Nigeria is one of the largest producers of ginger. The spice is on the top of the world spice market and is actively exported.


Garlic is mostly grown by the farmers. It is cultivated in the Savanna zone of the country. Garlic is usually exported to Europe and America.

Yam flour

The yam flour is cultivated in every state of Nigeria. The country is the largest producer of this flour. Even though there is a lot of waste during the producing, the processing and preservation are easy.

Cashew nuts

Nigeria produces about 50000 tons of cashew nuts annually. Almost 80% of it is exported to Brazil, India, and Vietnam. But the problem is that the nuts are exported raw and for relatively low price. The receiving countries process them and sell for a higher value to Europe and North America. Nigeria should consider processing the nuts on their own in order to get more profit.

Sesame seed

More than 25% of world sesame seed is planted in Africa. In fact, Nigeria is one of the major producers of this product.

Chili pepper

This could come as a surprise but Nigeria is considered to be one of the biggest producers of chili pepper on the market. In the country, there are different types of chili pepper and they are in high demand in Europe and America.

Rubber wood

Nigeria is a big producer of rubber wood. The tree crop is now rising in demand and Asia, Europe and U.S are ready to find exporters. The rubber wood can be sold for $250-$350 per cubic meter.

All in all, Nigeria is one of the biggest producers of cash crops in the world. Different kinds of crops are cultivated all over Nigeria due to its various climate areas. The crops are usually cultivated by farmers. They either sell them or use for home consumption. A big amount of crops (cacao, cassava, yam, rubber, cotton, sweet potatoes, etc.) are in high demand. Despite the fact that Nigeria is a big producer, the exports are not as high as they could be.