Nigerian agriculture is characterized by considerable regional and crop diversity. Analysis of this sector, particularly the food sub-sector, is fraught with serious data problems. However, the available statistics provide a broad overview of development in agriculture upon which we can make some broad generalizations about its role in economic development and structural change in Nigeria.
In the 1960s, the agricultural sector was the most important in terms of contributions to domestic production, employment and foreign exchange earnings. The situation remained almost the same three decades later with the exception that it is no longer the principal foreign exchange earner, a role now being played by oil.
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. Unstable and often inappropriate economic policies (of pricing, trade and exchange rate), the relative neglect of the sector and the negative impact of oil boom were also important factors responsible for the decline in its contributions.
On its diversity, Nigerian agriculture features tree and food crops, forestry, livestock and fisheries. In 1993 at 1984 constant factor cost, crops (the major source of food) accounted for about 30% of the Gross Domestic Products (GDP), livestock about 5%, forestry and wildlife about 1.3% and fisheries accounted 1.2%.
Any nation that requires economic development must look inwards to identify areas where it has comparative advantage over other nations and seek to develop the identified areas.
With a lot of fresh water bodies spread across Nigeria, the nation surely have comparative advantage in the production of crayfish. Crayfish, a crustacean of higher order found in fresh water is a very popular spice in the tropics where they are used in the preparation of food. It is estimated that about 12,000 MT of crayfish is produced annually in Nigeria.
Crayfish in Nigeria is presently sold in the conventional markets in very unhealthy environments. Usage of packaging technology is less competitive; even though crayfish consumption has increased since 1996 by 79.1% (this amounted to an annual 12,000 metric tons in 2012).
The consumption will triple by 2017 when Nigeria’s population would be almost 170.56 million and medical benefits of consuming crayfish are more realized in homes beyond its recipe.
The major emphasis of this study is the commercial grinding and packaging of crayfish making it available in hygienic condition and in readily accessible packages to the growing middleclass in the country who combine their roles as mothers, workers and cooks, and who scarcely have enough time to engage in daily grinding of the crayfish they need.
The estimated production capacity of the plant is 1,200 kg per day. The plant would operate a single shift of eight (8) hours each producing 900 kg of grinded crayfish of 120 mesh size per day at 75% of the installed capacity generating 1% wastage.