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Why Households who engage in subsistence agriculture are poor – Yemi Kale



Yemi Kale
“We established the poverty line at N137,430 and any individual or family that spends below this on food in a year will be classified below the poverty line.”

Dr. Kale used the insights from the 2019 National Living Standards Survey to explain that households engaged in subsistence agriculture only seem to be the most impoverished. This group is followed by families with more than 20 members.

Self-sufficient agriculture alone may never be able to sustain any family in Nigeria. According to Dr. Yemi Kale, Director of the Nigerian National Bureau of Statistics and CEO of the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), he delivered a speech at today’s Rauf Aregbesola annual symposium. The theme of the event is: “Extraordinary government: innovative economic solutions that unleash the prosperity of the public”.

Yemi Kale

“This doesn’t mean agriculture is a bad thing. It simply means the way we do agriculture in Nigeria has to be improved so that it does not become synonymous with poverty or we have to find other sources of income for farmers to supplement their standard of living,” he said.

Furthermore, Dr. Kahler explained that the standard of living survey conducted in cooperation with the World Bank began at the end of 2018 and ended in 2019. The survey used data from all states in Nigeria, but Borno ’s data was deemed not to be reliable enough and because of the state of security in the state. Kale says:

Based on this standard, the survey determined that at least 22.9 million Nigerians live in poverty, most of them from rural areas and states with low education, social welfare programs, employment, and income equality indexes.

Formalized informal sector

The income level of the informal sector is sufficient to keep them above the poverty line every day, but they cannot maintain their lives during the lockdown period, which was recently seen in some states during the COVID-19 pandemic in April. Kale said that this is a problem that can only be solved by the formalization of the informal sector. In other words, formalizing this sector will help more daily-paid workers stay above the poverty line. He mentioned the recent blockade, which has disabled many daily-paid workers in Lagos and other states.

The poor in Nigeria compared with other African countries

Kale made a comparison and pointed out that although the nominal size of the Nigerian economy is much larger, the poor in Nigeria are poorer than the poor in South Africa.

He attributed it to the survey results, which showed that Nigerians spent three times as much on food and consumables as all other items, while countries such as South Africa and Egypt spent less on food and consumables.

“Nigerian remains Africa’s largest economy, but per capita income is rather low for a country of this size, and the level of poverty presents a major development challenge” he noted.

Reduce Unemployment, the fastest way out

Kale believes that the fastest way out of poverty is to reduce unemployment, because people naturally spend more money on demand when they are employed. To support his point of view, Kale cited the five poorest states in Nigeria, while Lagos, Delta, Ogun, Osun and Oyo are the poorest states among other states. Compared with states with higher poverty rates, such as Sokoto, Taraba, Jigawa, Ebonyi and Adamawa, these states have lower unemployment rates.

Other indicators that show similar trends in the states are education and ease of doing business. In areas where education is poor, the poverty rate is almost always higher.

Increase Local Production

During the colloquium, Dr. Joe Abah also made a speech in his speech. He called for a review of the 1978 “Land Use Law”, which he said was the limit imposed by it. He also emphasized that Nigeria needs to improve access to capital, raw materials, land and technological innovations in order to be able to significantly increase production capacity.

“All richer countries only produce more, they produce more things that people want to buy and consume. It may be a product or service. The higher your production capacity, the richer you will be. If you cannot produce, you cannot develop Education or health department.”

Abah believes that without adopting some of the recommendations in the Oronsay report and reorganizing the productivity system, governance costs cannot be reduced. He said, “there is also a need to link budget and funding to productivity so that public sectors begin to understand that the more funding they require, the more they are expected to produce as well.”

He also suggested that states should begin to focus on their competitive advantages and use them to improve their overall productivity.


Other guests attending the colloquium included Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, Governor, Kaduna State, Senator Abubakar Bagudu, Governor, Kebbi Province, Ms. Hajara Adeola, CEO of Lotus Capital Limited, Mr. Bismarck Rewane, Chief Executive of Financial Derivatives Limited Officer, Dr. DAI Country Director Joe Abah, Dr. Yemi Cardoso (Chairman of Boason Omofaye), Chairman of Nigeria Citibank.


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