According to encyclopedia 2 and – geographical maps “reflect the land differentiation of agricultural production”. Agricultural maps are widely used in planning the scope of agriculture in various economic, operational and administrative locations. They are divided into two major groups:

  • Group One includes maps showing the distribution of crops and livestock species and breeds, their yields and productivity; capital and energy available to agribusiness enterprises; mechanization of crop cultivation and raising of livestock, etc.
  • Group Two includes maps showing the specialization of agricultural enterprises, agricultural regions, forecast maps, categories of economic regions, etc.

Nigeria is a veritable Garden of Eden. She possesses more opportunities for agriculture and agribusiness than most parts of the world. In 1959, the Federal Surveys Department produced the first agricultural map of Nigeria showing the types and locations of its varied agricultural products (MAP G8841.J6 1959) and it is documented on the internet by the National Library of Australia. I have broken this article into two parts just so it isn’t too lengthy and so we agribusiness entrepreneurs can appreciate the agricultural potentials in our great country, Nigeria.

1. Groundnut

Groundnut or Peanut (Arachis hypogaea) is a major crop grown in the arid and semi-arid zones of Nigeria. It is either grown for its nut, oil or its vegetative residue (haulms). The groundnut meal is not only a dietary supplement for children on protein poor cereal-based diets but also an effective treatment for children with protein related malnutrition. Groundnut is the 13th most important food crop in the world and the 4th most important source of edible oil. Its seeds contain high quality edible oil (50%), easily digestible protein (25%) and carbohydrates (20%) (FAO, 1994).

Groundnut is by far the most nutritive oil-seed used in West Africa. The kernels have an average fat and protein content of 75% and an energy value of 360 kcal/100g, compared to 60% and 430 kcal/100 g for soybeans. Nigeria is the fourth largest producer of groundnut in the world and the highest producer in Africa with 1.55 million metric tons. Up until the 60’s, before the discovery of crude oil, groundnut was one of Nigeria’s major exports, famous for its groundnut pyramids. The crop is mainly grown in the northern part of Nigeria namely, Niger, Kano, Jigawa, Zamfara, Kebbi, Sokoto, Katsina, Kaduna, Adamawa, Yobe, Borno, Taraba, Plateau, Nasarawa, Bauchi, and Gombe states (Abal and Harkness, 1978; NAERL, 2011).

Apart from food, groundnut is also used in a wide variety of other areas, such as biodiesel fuel, laxatives, dye, shampoo, insecticide, explosives, glue, etc. As the population continues to grow, the demand for edible oil in many developing countries such as Nigeria will also continue to grow. Groundnut will continue to be important in satisfying this growing demand because it is adaptable to a wide range of environments from sandy soils of the Sahel to favorable irrigated areas.

2. Oil Palm

The cultivation of the Oil palm (Elaeis guineensis) is originally from West Africa but it is currently grown throughout Africa, Asia, North America, and South America. Nigeria’s palm oil production accounts for 7% of total global output. In Nigeria, the major oil palm producing states include: Enugu, Imo, Ondo, Edo, Cross River, Delta, Akwa Ibom, Ekiti, Bayelsa, Rivers, Anambra, Oyo, Abia, Edo and Ogun State. Before the discovery of crude oil, products of the Oil palm such as palm oil and palm kernel oil were some of the nation’s major exports. Oil palms grow well in tropical areas like Nigeria with so many oil palm plantations, many of which were abandoned, but can still grow where there is an abundance of heat and rainfall.

It is said that the oil palm is a plant with zero waste…virtually everything on that tree has economic value. Palm oil is processed from the palm fruit and is the most widely used vegetable oil in the world. It is used for cooking and its refined product is used to produce margarine, spreads, etc. The nut or kernel is processed into palm kernel oil which is also edible and can be used for different applications like in the making of soap, especially bar soaps. The kernel cake gotten from kernel processing is used as a feed for livestock because of its high-protein content while the kernel shell can also be used to generate electricity by burning it in boilers. Its fronds can be used to make brooms, mats, baskets and in various arts and craft works. Oil palm products have numerous uses – as a cleaning agent, in baked products, to produce cosmetics, confectionery, shampoo, toothpaste and washing detergents.

3. Cocoa

Nigeria is currently the world’s fourth largest producer of cocoa, after Ivory Coast, Indonesia and Ghana, and the third largest exporter, after Ivory Coast and Ghana (Wikipedia, 2019). In the 1950s and 60s, cocoa was a major foreign exchange earner for Nigeria and in 1970, Nigeria was the second largest producer in the world but following investments in the oil and gas sector, Nigeria’s share of world output declined. The major cocoa producing states in Nigeria include Cross River, Ekiti, Ogun, Ondo, Osun, Oyo, Akwa Ibom, Delta and Edo.

Many different products can be derived from cocoa: animal feed from cocoa husk; soft drinks and alcohol from fresh cocoa pulp juice (sweatings); potash from cocoa pod husk for making soft soap. It is also used as fertilizer for cocoa, vegetables, and food crops; pectin for jam and marmalade is extracted from the sweating; mulch from the cocoa bean shells used as organic soil conditioner for the garden; the beans processed into cocoa butter (widely used in creams and soaps), cocoa powder (used in chocolate flavoured drinks, chocolate flavoured desserts such as ice cream and mousse, chocolate spreads and sauces, and cakes and biscuits); cocoa liquor used, with other ingredients, to produce chocolate, etc.

4. Cattle

Cattle (Bos primigenus) are the most common type of large domesticated animals. They are raised for meat (beef), as dairy animals for milk (and cheese, butter, yoghurt, etc), and as draft animals (oxen or bullocks pulling carts, plows and the like). Other products include leather (to make shoes, couches and clothing, etc) and dung for manure or fuel. There are quite a number of cattle breeds in Nigeria, among them are; the Red Bororo, N’dama, White Fulani, Muturu, Sokoto Gudali, etc. Animal production accounts for 4.5-5%  of Nigeria’s GDP (FAO,1987), providing income, employment, food, farm energy, manure, fuel and transport. They are also a major source of government revenue. Animal agriculture is an indispensable pre-requisite towards the sustainability of human development. (Oluwafemi, et al, 2001).

Most of Nigeria’s cattle is sourced from the northern parts of the country, in states such as Adamawa, Bauchi, Gombe, Niger, Kaduna, Zamfara, Borno, Taraba, Jigawa, Kebbi, Kwara, Nassarawa and Oyo.

5. Wheat

Nigeria has depended on imported wheat, for many decades now, to meet the growing demands of its large population. The demand for wheat in Nigeria is as high as 4.63 million metric tons but the country produces approximately 60,000 metric tons of wheat (Proshare, 2016) per annum. However, wheat farming is experiencing renewed interest from policy makers who see Nigeria’s potential to be self-sufficient in wheat production.

Wheat is a cereal grain that is grown in many parts of the world, first in Lebanon and Syria but has spread across countries through trade and improvements in science and technology. Wheat has always been produced in the northern regions of Nigeria dating back several centuries but it has been grown on a modest scale, not in commercial quantity. 

The major wheat growing areas in Nigeria are in the north and include Borno, Yobe, Jigawa, Kano, Zamfara, Katsina, Adamawa, Sokoto, and Kebbi states.

6. Sorghum

Sorghum (Sorghum bicolor) is a grass plant with tiny grains that grows well in warm climates and is widely cultivated in Australia, Africa, Asia, Mesoamerica and India. The grain is one of the staple foods for poor and rural people because of its drought-and heat-tolerant nature. Sorghum is the fifth largest produced cereal in the world after wheat, rice, barley and maize. It is valued because of its ability to produce in tropical and arid regions of the world and also, because of its relatively short growing season requirement, thus making it suitable for double cropping and crop rotation systems. 

Nigeria accounts for about 65-70% of the total sorghum production in West Africa. It is produced in Bauchi, Borno, Zamfara Yobe, Gombe, Adamawa, Kaduna, Jigawa, Niger, Kebbi, Taraba, Plateau, Sokoto, Katsina, and Nasarawa states. Sorghum is utilized in three major categories;

  • Human food: Sorghum is a major source of energy, protein, vitamins and minerals for millions of poor people living in drought regions. Sorghum is consumed as whole grain or processed into flour, for the preparation of traditional meals.
  • Animal food: Sorghum also serves as an important source of cattle feed and fodder. It is grown by many developed countries for animal feed. It grows comparatively quicker and gives not only good yields of grain but also very large quantities of fodder.
  • Industrial use: The main industries using sorghum, apart from the animal feed sector, are the alcohol distilleries, and starch industries. Since, sorghum is rich in starch content (around 60-77%), it is used in production of bio-industrial product like bio-ethanol, glucose and as source material for the isolation of starch when there is scarcity of maize. Malting and brewing industries also utilize sorghum to produce lager and stout.

The starch industry utilizes isolated starch (normally corn starch) to produce dextrose and maltose based products. This is particularly done due to achievable high (>97%) conversion with isolated starch as a starting material. With the integration of ultrasound technology, around 10% improvement in the conversions of starch has been observed using healthy sorghum, and blackened sorghum as a starting material.

Sorghum is very nutritious as it contains a range of rich mineral nutrients such as iron, magnesium, thiamine, phosphorous, potassium, copper, niacin, riboflavin as well as calcium. It has a lot of health benefits which includes: aiding the control of diabetes by regulating the body’s insulin and glucose level; helping to improve and develop the bone due to its richness in calcium as well as magnesium; helping to boost energy levels because of the presence of Niacin; helping to improve digestion and related issues like constipation and bloating; rich in antioxidants, etc.