Farmers are faced with various challenges from feeding an expanding global population to meeting rising demands which involves producing more foods on lesser acres to the detriment of using less arable land, producing high quality and bountiful yields, rearing healthy and numerous cattle, financial security, good education for the children and better home and life for all. Nevertheless, the untapped African land can provide all these and much more to the hardworking smallholder African farmer as farming is indubitable a noble and vital profession; because without farming, the whole world would starve to death. Some notable challenges experienced by farmer’s include.
CHALLENGES FACED MOST TIMES ARE OVERWHELMING
LACK OF INFORMATION
Limited access to information stands as a root challenge most small scale and large scale farmers face today in Africa with most farmers missing out on new and improved farming methods which greatly limits their output. Farmers located in remote places suffer more since they have no means to access information due to the inability to afford and operate technological devices; more so, Illiteracy of farmers is a worse case because they are unable to process important information which makes no difference. An average Nigerian farmer still makes use of primitive farm tools like hoes, cutlass etc. and this constitutes a major setback to the development of agriculture in the country.
INSUFFICIENT FINANCIAL SUPPORT
Lapses encountered in farming practices puts farmers in situations where they need financial support to enable them grow, expand and improve their yields. There are various micro-financing institutes in operation today in Nigeria but so many farmers still cannot access them and others encounter delayed financing. Seeds such as Hybrid or Certified seeds yield better and are more tolerant and disease resistant than others but they are sold at higher prices than regular seeds. Financial support either by Government or Private financing goes a long way in helping farmers acquire best practices and seeds for easier and high productive farming yields
ACCESS TO BETTER FERTILIZERS
Agricultural lands are becoming more expensive as the day goes by; and most poor farmers have no choice than to farm on same piece of land over and over again. The effect of continuous farming on same piece of land results to land degradation whereby fertile lands lose most (if not all) of their nutrients and become unproductive or barren. Thus farmers greatly depend on artificial fertilizers to enable them grow crops and improve their yields; and the difficulty in accessing needed fertilizers undermines the efforts put in farming on such degraded lands.
Marketing involves getting the agricultural products from the farmers to the consumers. Access to markets is one of the biggest challenges faced by smallholder farmers which directly affects their income and living standards. Lack of market facilities and poor government regulations poses serious threats to farmers, where after harvesting they are unable to sell off their produce at good prices. Hence, this leads to massive post-harvest losses and food wastage which is entirely another challenging issue facing the agricultural economy. Improved market facilities, and good government regulations/policies can go a long way in helping poor smallholder farmers market and profit from their harvests.
This is another major challenge facing not only the agricultural sector but also the economy in general throughout Africa. Farm produce in Africa lie in waste in remote areas and this is mostly because farmers encounter difficulty in transporting their farm produce to the available market to sell as there are no storage facilities to help preserve perishable produce from rotting. Good roads don’t exist and most remote areas find themselves cut-off from the rest of the world. For marketing to be efficient, transportation for moving the produce from the rural areas where they are produced to the urban areas must be in good shape. The majority of Nigerian rural roads are in very deplorable conditions.
These various challenges faced by farmers in Nigeria affects both the upstream and downstream agricultural sector. Agriculture must be given adequate attention in order to improve the economy; and smallholder farmers must be adequately supported to greatly ensure the nation’s food security as well as improving their standard of living.