Environmental Considerations in Nigerian Agricultural Policies, Strategies, and Programs

"Agriculture is the major sector upon which the majority of Nigeria’s rural poor depend on for their livelihood. Over 70 percent of the active labor force is employed in agriculture. The federal government of Nigeria (FGN) has identified agriculture as the key development priority in its efforts to halve poverty by 2015 and diversify the economy away from the oil sector. The FGN is designing strategies to increase agricultural production, processing, and marketing. Some of these are tied to the National Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy (NEEDS), which the government designed in 2004 to reduce poverty and empower the poor. Given the importance of agriculture in poverty reduction, NEEDS sets out a number of qualitative performance targets that were to be achieved by 2007. These include 6 percent annual growth in agricultural export and a drastic reduction in food import from 14.5 percent of total imports to 5 percent. The “Seven Point Agenda” of the present administration specifies “food security 'as one of the priorities in the country’s “Medium Term Development Plan and Vision 20: 2020.” It is important to look at the evolution of Nigerian environmental policy before establishing its links to agricultural policies. The illegal dumping of toxic waste at the Koko Port in the then- Bendel State (now Delta State) culminated in the creation of the Federal Environmental Protection Agency (FEPA) through Decree 58 of 1988, as amended by Decree 59 of 1992. The states then followed by creating agencies dealing with environmental protection. In 1999, all units and departments in the different federal agencies that deal with the environment, including FEPA, were pooled to form the Federal Ministry of Environment, Housing, and Urban Development (FMEH&UD) in order to eliminate duplication."