A rural settlement is monotonously characterised by small communities bordered by huge acres of virgin lands and a body of water in miles and in kilometers far ahead into the global sunset. This strength comes in the physicality of the inhabitants of this area, as defined by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMA&RD) in the Agriculture Promotion Policy (2010-2016) document. The term ‘rural’ in the real sense of it is a process in the making and sustenance of the urban area ranging from food production to the harnessing of the many potentials that the soil can give, up to those willing to reap having sowed.
Rural development entails domestic food production of commodities such as wheat, maize, rice, fish, poultry and sugar. Some of these industries are being harnessed and transformed into international export produce with a certain high standard that can compete at any level in the world economy. The Dangote Group in Nigeria has impacted rural development in the field of sugar by imploring natural juice drawn out from canes, a huge embodiment that the global African sector has huge stakes to rely on. This is because the Nigerian soil is blessed with great fertility leading to abundance in harvest, except in extreme cases. The country’s land is fertile enough on the east, west, north and south parts to grow every kind of domestic related crop, as listed by the FMA&RD in exportable quantities.
The last part of the 19th century has enabled the world, especially West Africa in understanding the importance of rural development to aid agriculture, which is mostly relegated to the background for other less important policies and this has inflated the prices of common goods to a level that the produce is not only off standard, but pocket–biting, to say the least. It should be noted that for every product that can be grown, an industry or something more can be built on it and this goes a long way at bringing about self–sufficiency to the nation, jobs for people, and a boom in the foreign trade. For instance, one product of rural development that meets the eyes is maize farming. Maize, also known as corn, can be categorised into varieties sequel to production.
This type of agricultural product is relevant to rural areas in Nigeria and is the only produce with an almost the same supply (tons) that is demanded, not only in Nigeria, but across Africa to compete with both America and Australia in terms of the percentage of exports. Rural farming of maize comes with favourable conditions that see the ability of all kinds of specie being breed that further thrives even in the driest of land and heatwave topography across Africa, as seen in the maize pyramids in Kano, Borno, Lower Juba, Lower Shebelle, Middle Shebelle and Hiran regions in Somalia, Cameron highlands and the plains in the South. Its universality canvass is the most sought-after agricultural product that could pass for corn ethanol, animal feeds for livestock in both the poultry and animal husbandry, corn starch and syrup, among others.
Plant production in recent years has surpassed other popular products like wheat, rice and millet with a 82.9% ratio. This is also due to its multi–purpose nature and the importance of this other sub produce from the grains of corn in rural development globally. From the farmlands in Europe through to the Congo Basin, to the Rivers in West Africa, the green mash of this crop is blossomed by the weather and in countries to the east of Africa, the irrigation system, which sees them as first batch every year with possible head-start before the rains come down, between late February and mid–March as well as during the rainy season in April-October. For majority of maize farmers, after the rainy season, it is hoped that the year’s harvest would come in multiples.
No doubt, agriculture is the bedrock of our society. Hence, the desire of the great Pan-Africanist, Kwame Nkrumah comes handy, when he spoke that the unity of any nation lies in the works of their hands to produce and while referring to agriculture, it shows this to be all–inclusive and an antidote to underdevelopment by singling out a solution, which can foster unity and togetherness while at the same time, making sure that the famine experienced years before the First World War (1914-1918) and after which the war did not come to light again. Furthermore, making of maize in and around Africa has become source of livelihood in terms of job creation and leveraging of occupational standards. Maize farming requires low capital in acquisition of its seedlings and with the harvest of each season, variants are discovered to grow to different species.
The importance of maize farming goes beyond the southern part of America far into the world economy stratosphere with the United States leading. Research, development and commercialisation of maize crop, as farmers in the US dedicate 33 million hectares to the production of the crop worldwide and the produce of this multilingual crop ‘maize’, has an high adoption process of 93% in the world’s economy, as reported by the International Service for Acquisition of Biotechnology Applications (ISAAA) while other top foreign maize producers include Argentina (12.5%), India (6.1%) and Brazil (26.2%). The International Seed federation still rates Chile as the highest quality maize producers for more than two decades in which Africa has adopted some of this hybrid seeds to multiply and create an advantage in food production, job creation, and international agricultural credibility.
Maize farming is more potent in Africa being that Africa is located in the desert with an annual average temperature of about 18.8 Celsius and the annual rainfall less than 3mm, according to the Library of National Congress of Chile. Therefore, it is geographic isolation along withers non-tropical weather and ever–present manageable plant health challenges, which have made this region an attractive location to accelerate maize crop breeding and research programmes in the maize industry. The share of labour force employed in agriculture, as detailed in 2019 by the International Labour Organisation and historical sources that show that Africa has the highest percentage in agriculture with Somalia leading the production chart with 80.28%, Chad (75.06%), Niger Republic (72.54%) wither 22.11 million people employed in agriculture in Nigeria, which is a vantage point in the sub-Saharan Africa as far as agricultural management is concerned.