HomeLUMINAvol. 22 no. 2 (2011)

World Bank Agricultural Development Projects and Underdevelopment in Nigeria

Noah Echa Attah

Discipline: Economics, Social Science, Agriculture



One of the major challenges of Nigeria, beginning from the second decade of her independence, has been that of agricultural failure. Apart from providing food for the Nigerian population, agriculture had been a major income earner for both the government and the people. The importance of agriculture in the economy was demonstrated in its position as a major foreign exchange earner during colonialism and in the first decade of independence (Bonat, 1989:78; Oladele, 2004:141). Agriculture however began to experience crisis during the second decade of Nigerian independence. This was evidenced in the decline of the contribution of agriculture to Nigeria’s foreign exchange earnings and the difficulty in feeding the people. By 1980, agriculture contributed only 2.4% to export earnings (Bonat, 1989:80) and by the beginning of 2000, it contributed about 0.05% to export earnings (USAID, 2008:42). 

One of the programmes put in place to solve the crisis in the agricultural sector and to accelerate its growth was the World Bank Agricultural Projects (WBADPs). The programme popularly called ADPs adopted western technology in the agricultural development of Nigeria through farm inputs such as seeds, fertilizers, machineries and chemicals imported from America and Europe. These inputs were meant to revive and enhance agricultural production in Nigeria. The ADPs however appeared to be a conscious programme of the World Bank, which appropriated Nigeria’s revenues through the importations of agricultural inputs and services. Similarly, it became avenue for personal accumulation by the local bourgeoisie through contracts and fertilizer distributions. The paper argues that the roles of foreign capital in collusion with the local bourgeoisie under the WBADPs engendered underdevelopment rather than development in the Nigerian agriculture.