farmers and 72 per cent of female farmersacross the country cultivate less than 1hectare of land per household .
2. HISTORY AND BACKGROUND OFPROBLEM
The agricultural history of Nigeriais intertwined with its political history;consequently, it is not difficult tounderstand the origin of the problem in theagricultural sector. The period of thecolonial government in Nigeria, 1861
1960, was punctuated by a ratherimpromptu assistance to ruraldevelopment. During this era, considerableemphasis was placed on research andextension services. The 1962-1968development plans were
national strategy. Among severalobjectives, it emphasised the introductionof more modern farming methods throughfarm settlements, co-operative (nucleus)plantations, provision of improved farmimplements (e.g. Hydraulic hand pressesfor oil palm processing) and a significantlyexpanded agricultural extension service(Agricultural Development SinceIndependence, .
As at 2006, Nigeria’s population
was estimated at 140 million, with womenconstituting about 49.6%. Agriculture,since independence, held the key to
apid economic transformation,poverty alleviation, established internaland ethical governance as well as state andfood security. Agriculture employs abouttwo-
thirds of Nigeria’s
labour force,contributes over 40% of the GrossDomestic Product (GDP) and providesabout 88% of non-oil earnings. The cropssector contributes 85% of the agriculturalGDP, livestock (10%), Fisheries (4%) andForestry (1%). Over 90% of the Nigerianagricultural production is accounted for bysmall-scale and subsistence farmers withless than two (2) hectares farm holding .The agricultural sector in 1998,which has been relatively stagnant at 3%growth potential moved from 4.1% growthrate to 7.4% by the end of 2007. This wasas a result of a renewed attention of thegovernment within the years throughvarious reform programmes that alsoencouraged increasing private sectorentrepreneurial activities (but notnecessarily due to the effectiveness of policy implementation in the long run). Ingrowth terms, the sector was only secondto telecommunications services, the fastestgrowing sector since 2004 .