Is Agriculture Still the Mainstay of Rural Economies? Insights from Ultra-Poor Households in North-central Nigeria

Ajibade ET

Department of Agricultural Economics and Farm Management, University of Ilorin, Nigeria.

Ajibade TB. *

Department of Agricultural Economics and Farm Management, University of Ilorin, Nigeria.

Omotesho OA.

Department of Agricultural Economics and Farm Management, University of Ilorin, Nigeria.

*Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.


Aims: Nigeria may be facing aging and decline in the population engaged at food production nodes, posing huge challenge to agri-food systems with poverty at risk of deepening. Current trend in rural-urban migration and occupational mobility raises the open question of: “Is agriculture still a mainstay of rural economy, playing reliant roles in income and employment generation for the ultra-poor in Nigeria rurality?”. Understanding this is important because structural change to agricultural workforce in Nigeria has far-reaching implications on food security, welfare, and poverty. We sought to unfold the dynamics of agriculture as a business among ultra-poor rural households in North-Central Nigeria. First, we investigated engagements of ultra-poor rural households in agriculture. Secondly, we examined their level of commercialization. Lastly, we investigated determinants of ultra-poor’s market participation and its intensity.

Study Design: This study used quantitative primary data collected in surveys and qualitative data generated from focus group discussions.

Place and Duration of Study: The study was carried out in three states in North-central Nigeria viz: Kwara, Kogi, and Niger with data collected and analyzed between 2020-2022.

Methodology: We randomly selected 1588 households (out of 60,427 households) from the “Single Register of the Ultra-poor” operationalized on a World-Bank-Assisted Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) programme. We analysed data using descriptive statistics, Household Agricultural Commercialization Index, and Double-Hurdle Model.

Results: Only about 18.7% of the ultra-poor households were primarily engaged in agriculture with the focus groups highlighting conflicts issues from indiscriminate grazing activities as primary reason for the abandonment. Determinants of market participation and intensification include: (-) household dependency ratio, distance to markets, (+) linkage to market agents, access to mechanization and input market, CCT-beneficiary status, and farm size (p<0.05).

Conclusion: Involvement in primary agricultural production is declining in Nigeria. We recommend a boost to infrastructural development of the rurality to support agricultural transformation and attractiveness to the next wave of youths.

Keywords: Agriculture, agricultural commercialization, double-hurdle, single register, ultra-poor

How to Cite

Ajibade ET, Ajibade TB., & Omotesho OA. (2024). Is Agriculture Still the Mainstay of Rural Economies? Insights from Ultra-Poor Households in North-central Nigeria. Asian Journal of Agricultural Extension, Economics & Sociology, 42(5), 141–159.


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