1.1 Background of the study
We all know that agriculture is the largest and oldest industry in the world. It is known to be an indispensable sector of the Nigerianeconomy, whichprovides raw materials for industriesand supplies food for the population. The role of agriculture in the provision of foreign exchange has been emphasized by numerous researchers. In accordance with lasting employment, agriculture is far way the most significant sector of Nigeria's economy, engaging about more than 65 percent of the labor force.
Since the pre-colonial era till date, Nigerian agricultural sectorhas remained the top-notch and of course a very important part of the economy, thus, giving her the strength to sustainthe entire population and having surplus food for export. Crops Nigeria exports include cocoa, rubber, coffee, palm kernels, cashew nut and a host of others and theycontributed profusely to the country’s Gross National product (GNP).
In Nigeria today, Cocoa is a top and leading non-oil foreign exchange earner. Cocoa, which is used mainly in the production of chocolate,is a vital agricultural export commodity in Nigeria.It serves as the core source of revenue for the provision of socio-economic infrastructure in the country. With respect to employment, the industry employs about 60 percent and more of the national agricultural labour force in the country. Cocoa chips-in to about 70-100 percent of farmers’ annual household incomes and developing their livelihood is a vital aspect of the Nigerian government’s plans for combating poverty. It hasalso been the aspiration of governmenttomake sure that the country increases and grows its cocoa production and alsoprocesses more of the beans into downstream products forboth the local and export markets.
Nigeria has the what it takes to produce over 300,000 tons of cocoa beans per year, but production only amounted to 145,000 tons in 1999 (Nigeria Agriculture Stats, 2014). Low yield, ageing trees, and lack of proper equipment have been identified to inhibit production (Iremiren, 2011). The contribution of the agricultural sector to the Nigerian foreign earnings had fallen from 62% before the discovery petroleum to less than 3% in the 1990s. Irrespective of the droop in the sector’s contribution, cocoa still stands in the gap for its significance in foreign exchange earnings which comes second after petroleum. Cocoa is an authority when it comes to generating of income for most rural farmers in Nigeria especially in the South West and serves as a strength and courage for their livelihood. Even so, recently, Nigeria has elapsed from being the world’s second largest producer to the fifth position, behind Cote d’lvoire, Ghana, Indonesia and Cameroon with a production figure of 160 thousand tones which represents 4.6% of the world production in 2006-2007 seasons (International Cocoa Organization [ICCO], 2005). They held on to the inadequate government programmes on agricultural input subsidy which are specified as chemicals and planting materials, small farm sizes, insufficient capital, insufficient labour availability and especially, change in global climate. In the presence of natural resources, agricultural production is at the mercy of the unknown driven by climate variation, including extreme events like flooding and drought.However, basic skills in cocoa production, together with favorable motivation, are liablerequirement for best practices. Cacao is still the highest foreign exchange earning crop in Nigeria despite its present problem in the world markets. The crop has of high degree contributed positively to the economy of the country for more than a century. This study is aimed at providing a comprehensive, vivid pictureof the economic and environmental impacts together with the current cocoaproduction and processing techniques in Nigeria.
1.2. Statement of the general problem
The present menace of economic recession currently underway in Nigeria has led to the increase in unemployment, hunger and starvation in Nigeria. This has basically been caused by the neglect of the agricultural sector that has in the 60’s and 70’s significantly contributed to the economy of Nigeria thereby running a mono economy which has overtime proved to be risky venture in a populous nation like Nigeria. The neglect of the agricultural sector has mad Nigeria’s socio economic development suffer when compared to her contemporaries both in Africa and the other parts of the world.
1.3. Aims and objectives of the study
The major aim of the study is study the impact of improved seedlings on the economy of Nigeria. Other specific objectives of the study include;
1. To examine the importance of cocoa farming on agricultural development in Nigeria.
2. To critically evaluate the agricultural sector and its impact of the GDP.
3. To examine the types of cocoa seedlings and their characteristics.
4. To examine the level of cocoa farming in Nigeria.
1.4. Research Questions
1. What is the impact of improved seedlings on the economic development of Nigeria?
2. What is the importance of cocoa farming on agricultural development in Nigeria?
3. What is the impact of improved varieties of cocoa seedlings to the gross domestic product of Nigeria?
4. What are the types of cocoa seedlings and their characteristics?
5. What is the level of cocoa farming in Nigeria?
1.5. Research Hypothesis
H0: Improved cocoa seedlings do not improve the economy of Nigeria.
H1: Improved cocoa seedlings improve the economy of Nigeria.
1.6. Significance of the study
The study would be of immense importance to government at all levels in educating them of the economic importance of improving the seedlings of cocoa plant. The study would also be of importance to agriculturists, students, scholars and researchers who are interested in further study on the subject matter.
1.7. Scope and limitation of the study
This study is restricted to the economic impact of improved seedlings on the economy of Nigeria with cocoa improved seedlings serving as the case study.
Limitation of the study
Financial constraint- Insufficient fund tends to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire and interview).
Time constraint- The researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. This consequently will cut down on the time devoted for the research work.
1.8. Definition of terms
COCOA: The cocoa bean, also cacao bean or simply cocoa or cacao, is the dried and fully fermented fatty seed of Theobroma cacao, from which cocoa solids and cocoa butter can be extracted.
SEEDLING: A seedling is a young plant sporophyte developing out of a plant embryo from a seed. Seedling development starts with germination of the seed.
ECONOMY: the state of a country or region in terms of the production and consumption of goods and services and the supply of money.
GDP: Gross domestic product
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