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The Relative Commercial Orientation of Smallholder Farmers in Nigeria: Household and Crop value- Chain Analyses

smallholder farming households in Nigeria results in greater incomes for their households, which, in turn, can drive an expansion in local nonfarm employment opportunities and raise incomes across rural communities. Appropriately targeting agricultural development efforts towards commercially oriented farming households has important second-round development benefits for rural economies. We use nationally representative data from the Nigeria General Household Survey Panel to examine the characteristics of households and their context that determine their level of commercial orientation in 2015/16. We then use the same dataset for crop-specific analyses of the factors associated with a household choosing to produce a specific crop, to sell any of their harvest of that crop, and, if they sold any of the crop, whether they sold more than half of their harvest. Twelve crops are examined. We find that the commercial orientation of most smallholder farming households in Nigeria is not strong. One-third reported not making any crop sales, relying instead on household enterprises or wage employment to meet their cash needs. Another one-third reported selling less than one-third of the crops they harvested by value. For these households, any crop sales made seem to reflect the limited other options they have to obtain cash, rather than being part of a strategy of commercial production. A subsistence orientation still drives most crop production by smallholder farming households in Nigeria. The crop-specific analyses confirm that crop sales for many households are driven to an important degree by their lack of other income sources, rather than by actively seeking to produce significant commercial surpluses of a crop. That this is the case reflects a range of deficiencies in the production and marketing of many of the crops. Improved crop production technologies are not commonly used, may not be readily available, or, if available, may prove challenging to employ profitably. Nigerian crop markets remain risky with no assurances that farmers will find buyers offering remunerative prices when they bring their produce to the market to sell. Continued investments to increase crop productivity and to improve the performance and reliability of crop value chains are needed if commercial considerations are increasingly to drive the crop choices of smallholder farming households, to provide incentives for higher crop productivity, and, through the increased crop income of commercially oriented farming households, to motivate expansion in local non-farm sectors and to raise incomes for all households in rural Nigerian communities.