THE National Bureau of Statistics on Wednesday released data on Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product for the second quarter of 2016. Overall, the picture painted by the document was, to put it mildly, less than savory. The headlines were almost unified in their annunciation of a 2.06 percentage point decline in the value of the country’s output. The focus was on the oil sector, which did the most to peg back economic growth in the period.
But one sector stood out, carving a patch of optimistic green in the midst of what was otherwise a report written in downward-pointing red. It was Agriculture.
A few days before the NBS put out its GDP document, the Central Bank of Nigeria had indicated that agricultural activity in Nigeria had “increased significantly” between the months of April and June. The NBS’s report also described the trend-defying growth in the sector as “very strong”. In real terms, agricultural output (valued in naira) increased by 4.53 percent, 1.45 percentage points higher than the growth recorded for the sector in the first three months of the year. It contributed 22.55 percent of Nigeria’s GDP in the second quarter, about 2.07 percent better than was recorded for the first quarter.
The central bank attributes the positive growth witnessed in the agricultural sector to a number of factors. It points to “well-distributed rainfall” in most parts of the country, which helped to ensure good harvests from farms, especially in the south. The continued resettlement and reintegration of people previously displaced by the insurgency in the North East is also noted as a factor that “improved the prospects for increased agricultural activities”. The slowdown in other sectors may have turned more eyes and funds to the farms as well.
Nigeria’s economy now seems to be resting upon a few resilient shoulders. The brightest of them appears to be agriculture. It is certainly one of the safest bets for investors seeking shelter from the storms of an uncertain economic environment.