EconomyFact Check

Did Nigeria’s agricultural revolution create over 13 million jobs, as Buhari claimed?

Claim: Nigeria’s agricultural revolution has created over 13 million direct and indirect jobs.

Did Nigeria's agricultural revolution create over 13 million jobs, as Buhari claimed?

Verdict: Insufficient evidence/Unproven

Full Text

Recently, President Muhammadu Buhari has been releasing statements quoting the success of his administration. Mr Buhari said he served Nigerians well to the best of his ability and disappointed no one. 

In December 2022, the president, while speaking at an interactive session in the United States, noted that targeted interventions by his administration in the agricultural sector had created 13 million direct and indirect jobs. 

In a statement, Garba Shehu, the presidential spokesperson, quoted him as saying, “This agricultural revolution has led to the creation of over 13 million direct and indirect jobs.”

Mr Buhari also said the country has been able to handle the systemic shock caused by both COVID-19 and the Russia-Ukraine war on global food supply chains and attendant price spikes.

Verification

The country’s agricultural sector has battled several challenges over the years, which limited its growth despite numerous interventions.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the sector’s low performance is caused by many challenges impacting its productivity. These, the organisation said, include; poor land tenure systems, low levels of irrigation farming, climate change and land degradation, low technology, high production cost and poor distribution of inputs, and limited financing, among others. 

According to Statista, employment in agriculture is the share of individuals working in agriculture, hunting, forestry, and fishing to produce a good or service for profit or pay from the total employed.

The latest data from the World Bank (2019) shows that employment in agriculture is only 35% of the total employment rate in the country, whereas, in 1991, it was 51% of the total employment. 

Did Nigeria's agricultural revolution create over 13 million jobs, as Buhari claimed?
Employment in agriculture as a percentage of total employment. Source: World Bank

The World Bank further aggregated the number of Nigeria’s Labour force in 2019 to 62.9 million

For context, given the labour force in 2019 is 62.9 million and the total percentage of unemployment equals 10.7%, which is 6.7 million, it means the total employment figure for the same year is 56 million. 

It also means since employment in agriculture is 35% of total employment (56 million), there are estimated 19.6 million agriculture-related jobs.

The question then is how many of these people are engaged in paid or unpaid services in the agriculture sector?

The World Bank, in its explanation, noted that total employment involves wage and salaried workers (also known as employees); and self-employed workers, with its subcategories: which included self-employed workers with employees (employers); self-employed workers without employees (own-account workers), and; members of producers’ cooperatives and contributing family workers (also known as unpaid family workers).

The situation explained in Nigeria’s economic update by the World Bank showed that between 2005 and 2015, Agriculture accounted for 40 per cent of Nigerian workers. The report noted that labour has gradually shifted from agriculture to other sectors over time. 

“Over time, employment in less-productive sectors like agriculture and manufacturing have dropped, and employment in the highly productive resource sector has gone up,” it added. 

Did Nigeria's agricultural revolution create over 13 million jobs, as Buhari claimed?
Employment in the agricultural sector is a share of total employment in Nigeria. Source: Statista

Meanwhile, Nigeria’s unemployment rate is currently at 33.3%, with about only 30 million persons fully employed, according to the latest data by the National Bureau of Statistics. This shows that there’s been an increase in the unemployment rate from 10.4% in Q4 2015.

Did Nigeria's agricultural revolution create over 13 million jobs, as Buhari claimed?
Chart showing underemployment and unemployment rate in Nigeria from 2010 to Q4, 2015. Source: National Bureau of Statistics.
Did Nigeria's agricultural revolution create over 13 million jobs, as Buhari claimed?
Latest data on Unemployment rate in Nigeria. Source: National Bureau of Statistics.

Direct and indirect employment in the agriculture sector

Prof Segun Ajibola, former President of the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN) and professor of economics at Babcock University, told the Nigerian Fact-checkers coalition (NFC) that there’s been a steady decline in the number of people engaged in Agriculture from independence till date. 

On how to measure indirect job opportunities in the Agricultural sector, the don noted that Agriculture has spillover effects and involves both backward and forward integration.

“For example, those who are involved in primary agriculture, they produce, these are people who grow yam, rice, produce palm oil, palm kernel, cotton and so on, that’s the primary segment. 

“Those involved in the secondary level, the transporters: those who transport from the farm to warehouses, those who keep the products in warehouses, the silos, the marketers, those who eventually process those products. For instance, cocoa, those who buy cocoa and those who transport cocoa, there are some cocoa processing factories in Nigeria like Ile Oluji cocoa processing factory, all those working there will be counted as people working in agriculture, that’s forward integration.

“Then there are those who use those products like Nigeria Breweries, Guinness, Nestle food, some of them have what they call farmer-grower skill. They give money to farmers; that’s what we call backward integration. They give money to farmers to produce corn, which they process into other products, the same way Nestle foods have farms where they grow some of these products; all of them, for example, Nestle food will regard themselves as working in Agriculture because what they do is to process agricultural products to finished products, a segment of PZ will see themselves as still working in Agriculture, same thing with Guinness, same thing Nigerian Breweries.

“Marketers, transporters, sellers, those who work in agro-allied businesses like cocoa processing farms and so on, all of them will be counted as those who work in agriculture and agricultural-related businesses. They will regard themselves as part of employment in agriculture. I think it’s from that angle that the president is looking at it as opposed to the World Bank looking at agriculture from the angle of those involved in agriculture as a means of livelihood.”

President Buhari came into power in 2015. As observed, employment in agriculture as a share of total employment has witnessed a steady decline from 37.51% in 2014 to 35% in 2019, according to the World Bank.

From the foregoing, there is no sufficient evidence to show that the current administration’s interventions in the agricultural sector have provided 13 million direct and indirect jobs in the country.

This is evident in the fact that the sector’s employment rate has been declining. 

When the Nigerian Fact-checkers Coalition contacted Shehu to highlight the data source quoted by Mr Buhari, he referred the researcher back to the speech the president gave in New York, which does not serve as a credible source. 

Conclusion

There is insufficient evidence to support Buhari’s claim that interventions in Agricultural have provided 13 million jobs in Nigeria as the unemployment rate in the sector was on a decline during the period reviewed.

The claim for this fact-check was sourced using the Full Fact AI tool. Learn more about the tool here.

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