At a glance – agriculture in Nigeria

Despite the country’s oil riches, agriculture remains the bedrock of the economy and provides a living for the majority of the population. Agricultural productivity, however, remains low, at an average of 1.2 tonnes of cereal per hectare.  

Official data suggests that 24% of Nigeria’s 182 million people are undernourished.

Cassava and rice are key crops. The country is the biggest cassava producer in the world, accounting for 20% of global output. The vast majority of the crop is grown on smallholdings and is consumed by producer-families or sold at local markets.

Rice is an important cash crop and is mainly grown by smallholders, who sell on some 80% of their production. Rice generates more cash for farmers than any other crop.

In the last five years, the agriculture sector has grown by 4.5% per year on average.

Grow Africa’s work in Nigeria

Nigeria now accounts for some 40% of the total private sector investment commitment to agriculture under the Grow Africa platform.

20 domestic investors and 16 international have issued LOIs amounting to $4.5 billion; of this, £1,140 has been delivered to the agricultural sector, with $128 million in 2014.

This investment has led to the creation of 26,912 jobs to date – 4,240 of them in 2014.

850,350 smallholders were reached in 2014, predominantly through the supply of input products and services, financial or data services and through training.   

The largest investment commitment in 2015 came from the agricommodities company, Elephant Group, which issued an LOI to invest $300m in sustainable agricultural growth in the country over the next three years, specifically in rice farm plantations, rice milling plants, and fertiliser blending plants.

Eagleson Nito is investing in expanding cassava cultivation and processing in the country. The company currently supplies companies including Honeywell Flour Mills and Flour Mills of Nigeria from its cassava flour processing facility located in Osogbo. It also works with the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) and farmers to increase overall per-hectare cassava yields. 

Priority sectors

The value chains of rice and cassava are of vital importance to the Nigerian agricultural sector, both for food security and import substitution. Grow Africa has played a central role in establishing public-private partnerships in both these value chains.

For rice, LOIs with commitments totalling $1.5 billion have been received that will involve all stakeholders along the value chain. 

From a regional perspective, memoranda of understanding are being drafted by Grow Africa with the Competitive African Rice Initiative (CARI), the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and AfricaRice to secure a regional scope for ongoing initiatives. The intention is to increase private sector involvement and to make investment concrete and actionable.  

In the cassava sector, Grow Africa has facilitated the formation of the Nigerian Cassava Working Group, which in close collaboration with IDH – The Sustainable Trade Initiative – now involves all the main actors within the cassava sector.

The Working Group is now being formalised as the recognised voice for the cassava industry in Nigeria by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD), and is actively endorsed by the private-sector platform, The Nigerian Agribusiness Group.

In August 2015, the Agribusiness Inter-Ministerial (AIM) Working Group was established as a result of feedback from the private sector on constraints to investment. The main purpose of the AIM Working Group is to resolve these constraints by developing government intervention action plans.

A further area of focus in Nigeria is the exchange of best practices, specifically of lessons learned from the establishment of Staple Crop Processing Zones (SCPZs) to encourage agribusinesses to establish processing plants in areas of high food production.

Government incentives include attractive fiscal, investment and infrastructure policies. Grow Africa plans to host a workshop with the African Development Bank, FMARD and LOI companies to share learnings from SCPZs with a view to accelerating the creation of more such processing zones.

Projects, Platforms, and Working Groups

Grow Africa supports well-functioning rice platforms

In recognition of the sizeable opportunity represented by strengthening the domestic rice sector for job creation, improvement of smallholder incomes, food security, and reduced import dependence,

Nigerian national cassava platform - Grow Africa

The Nigerian national cassava platform was launched with the support of Grow Africa and IDH – the Sustainable Trade Initiative in April 2015 as one of three national platforms (the other two are in

New best practice on business models

Commercializing smallholder production is of critical importance in securing a sustainable future of African agriculture.


Access to finance at affordable rates is a systemic constraint facing smallholders and agricultural SMEs across the contine

Investment Opportunities

Government - Driven Investment Opportunities

Opportunities to invest in agriculture projects

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