Historically, there is virtually no country that has made economic progress without prior gains in her agricultural sector. The Nigerian agricultural sector is one of the most important sectors in terms of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and employment generation potential. It contributes significantly to national food self-sufficiency by accounting for over 90 per cent of total food supply in the country. It is a major and sustainable portal for foreign exchange earning being the main contributor in the non-oil sector. Nigeria was a formidable agrarian economy renowned as a world leader in the production and exportation of cash crops like cocoa, cotton, groundnut, oil palm, kolanut among others, Nigeria was historically the world's second largest producer of cocoa, largest exporter of palm oil and leading world exporter of cotton, rubber, hides and skin.
In the 1960s, the agricultural sector was the most important in terms of contributions to domestic production, employment and foreign exchange earnings by contributing over 60% to the country's GDP. The sector remained stagnant during the oil boom decade of the 1970s, and this accounted largely for the declining share of its contributions. The trend in the share of agriculture in the GDP shows a substantial variation and long-term decline from 60% in the early 1960s through 48.8% in the 1970s and 22.2% in the 1980s. Although agriculture's contribution to the GDP increased to 43.20% in 2001, this reduced progressively to 42.10% in 2008. Currently the growth rate of agricultural production relative to industrial and services sub-sector of the non-oil sector is 18.5%. This portends a likely hope for agricultural growth in the country, if well harnessed.
Agriculture is comprised of the four sub-activities of Crop Production, Livestock, Forestry and Fishery. The largest activity in the Agriculture sector is crop production. It is also the main driver of growth of the agricultural sector, contributing 85.39%, 85.91% and 90.13% to growth in quarters one, two and three respectively of the year 2014. The fastest growing sub-sector of the agricultural sector activities however was fishing, which exhibited growth of 8.40% in the opening quarter of 2014, dipping 3.52% points to growth of 4.89% and increasing to 6.72% growth in quarter three (National Bureau of Statistics-NBS, 2014).