Prof. J N Nmadu

Agricultural Economics and farm Management

Federal University of Technology, Minna

Industrial Liaison officer

Fellow and President, Nigerian Association of Agricultural Economists



You may be aware that all my life, I deal with numbers and how to make them understandable for those who do not make meaning out of it. I try to determine the pattern in numbers and present them in a way that it makes more meaning. Essentially, and in the simplest of putting it, you may say that I apply technology to numbers and indeed I do.


Over the years, there is one concept that is well misunderstood by majority of Nigerians: diversification. Each time we have a new government, they always promise to diversify Nigerian economy. And when they say, most of us will nod our heads in agreement. In most of the cases, they normally want to diversify from oil and gas sector into agriculture. So, what does that mean, and how will it be done?


In most instances, then farmers would now be encouraged to produce more as a way of making agriculture, how be it, the north to become more prominent than the oil states. In the end, more raw produce would flood the markets leading to crash in prices and considerably, more postharvest losses and waste! Then the cobweb problem would set in and the circle has continued since the attention turned away from agriculture to crude oil and gas.


So, in order to properly understand how technology should be applied to agriculture, please do a proper study and understand the following terms and concepts: agribusiness, supply chains, agriculture value chain, marketing and storage.


First for proper agribusiness development in Nigeria, farming should not be a survival strategy, but a business enterprise that is run profitably. For example, most of us here are farming, but not as business, but just to survive. That is the reason why technology is difficult to apply to agricultural production. The farm plots are in bits and of irregular shapes!


Second, the notion that most people have, that farming is simple and a way of life, hence there is no need for training and education before embarking on farming is a fallacy. Most people go and come out battered after they might have discovered that they did not have the requisite knowledge, skills and practical understanding of what they set out to do. As a friend of mine once said, there is ‘trick in every business’.


Third, there must be conscious efforts by the public and private sector to fund research so that home-grown agricultural technologies that are sustainable and supports profitable farming enterprise are developed. I wrote my thesis in 2002 and referred to a sorghum variety developed in the ‘70s in it, surprisingly, in 2019, that same variety was being promoted to farmers! This is the truth about our agricultural research today. For, example, when last was a new rice, maize, sorghum or millet varieties with superior qualities developed and released to the farmers in Nigeria. Rather, we are quick to go to China, India, Europe and the Americas, to bring the technologies developed and adapted to their environment and we think that will work? Agricultural technology is at least 35 years backward in Nigeria.


So, diversification simply means lateral integration of agricultural production, that is, instead of selling raw yams, selling yam flour. When you do that, you add value, hence, value chains. When you indulge in value addition, you establish supply chains and in all these, you need technology. If Nigeria has the technology and fully explore the value chains of our raw agricultural produce, we might solve half of our food insecurity problems because we would have rescue about 40% -50% postharvest losses and waste. It was a bit embarrassing that Nigeria started exporting raw yams to Europe and the Americas in 2018!


At the university level, we can leverage on technology and take advantage of abundant agricultural produce around to generate IGR. There are other opportunities that we can leverage on and I will give few examples:

1.  Fingerling production to feed the Lapai Gwari fish farms, there is no any functional hatchery in Minna.

2.  Meat factory, we have abundant livestock around and rather than transport live animals to Lagos, we process and supply packaged meat to Lagos, supply chain, value chain

3.  Yam processing, so let us stop raw yam transportation and establish supply chains for yam flour, yam bread, yaw this and yam that, supply chains, value addition.

4.  If we don’t want to eat stone in rice, let us do something about it using technology.

5.  Rather than eat raw maize or cassava, raw mango or cashew, raw groundnuts or beans, we get higher profit and thus higher utility by processing before production. By processing we need technology, then we establish supply chains and explore fully, the value chains in those raw produce.

The list can continue. Let us sell knowledge and technology rather than our sweat! Let us move away from labour-intensive production systems to capital-intensive production system, it is all about developing technologies that will supplant physical efforts.

All the above-mentioned agribusinesses, we do them now, even some of us in our houses. The problem with labour-intensive production is that the profit margin is very low but when we indulge in capital-intensive production, the profit margin is very high.


In summary, we can enhance the value of our raw agricultural produce by processing and packaging them in sizes convenient for sale, rather than consume fresh. The utility derived from consuming raw produce is far less than it would be if the produce is processed.



Thank you.


Questions and Answers

Gbolahan: Prof, what particular challenge can you throw immediately to our colleagues in Agric Eng and Mech Eng regarding technology.


Job Nmadu: It is not about challenge I believe, there are quite a number of innovations and technology already developed. But you know, the technologies need to be upgraded to industry standards. They need to be available and adaptable to our production systems. These are the areas that we always fall short since those who will do that will prefer to go to China, India. In order words, our engineering departments are doing well, a little push, a little encouragement is what is needed.


Luqman Oyewobi: Prof sir,


Poor Policy Formulation & Poor Implementation as well as lack of Collaboration between Institutions and Industry is a major clog in the wheel of Agribusiness? What is school of Agric and Agric Technology of FUT Minna wants to be known for in the comity of schools?

Job Nmadu: The school of agriculture is on the forefront of doing what we can to uplift the production system. But as I earlier insinuated, the policy people count research as capital investment and expect quick wins. This has always been the problem of developing Nigerian agriculture. While we are doing our best, there are all sorts of limitations, the solution being beyond our control. So, research takes time, let us be committed to it. Let us fund research. Check and see since when last a Nigeria researcher has been able to successfully put a technology on the market apart from the reports on our shelves and loads of papers in Journal?


Luqman Oyewobi: Is the establishment of directorate of university farms a visible option to harness the opportunities that abound in the school of Agriculture?

Job Nmadu: Personally, I don't have any objection to a new establishment if it would serve a particular need, but ...

Gbolahan: But...? We need the but sir

Job Nmadu: You know, things that also include political dimension, for example, you have good intention, it is accepted, then in implementation you don't understand again. I served in a committee to draft MoU between Niger State Government and FUT during the administration of the only chief servant. Honestly, we did not know when the MoU was actualized and somethings changed hands.


Arch. Bala Isah Doko: How can we avail the university community (I mean Staff) of the new innovations such as seedlings and also tools developed by the various departments in the university?

Job Nmadu: You may approach the Department concerned.


Luqman Oyewobi: I asked this question earlier, could u pls address it.

Agric Departments: is like a palm tree, there's no any part that's not useful. With the school as power house of the university, why has it not used the strength and the connections to ensure a legacy of this nature (agricultural mart) is bequeathed to the University community?

Job Nmadu: Again, I just want us to exercise caution if we want to embark on any farming activities. Be sure you have the right knowledge and the skills. There is no crop or tree that may not do well, but things like soil analysis, proper market survey, available technology and other things are essential. For now, we don't have any research in crops like palm tree but the NIFOR in Benin can help. they have offices in Bida.

Invited talk by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASSU), FUT Minna Chapter on 8th of June, 2020 on Telegram Chat.


  1. Great prrsective Sir. I did a study recently and discovered that for most of the Asian countries that made giant strides in Agriculture through technology, there was the other part of the handlers of the technology- which is the Extension arm. But extension here in Nigeria is a joke. Considering the educational levels of most farmers, how can they better profit from these technologies (hardware and software) if extension is practically nonexistent?


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