Agriculture is the main stay of Nigerian economy. It involves small scale farmers scattered over wide expanse of land area, with small holding ranging from 0.5 to 3.0 hectare per farm land. It is characterized by rudimentary farm systems, low capitalization and low yield per hectare (Kolawale and Ojo, 2007). The roles of agriculture remain significant in the Nigeria economy despite the strategic importance of the oil sector. Agriculture provides primary means of employment for Nigeria and accounts for more than one third of total gross domestic product (GDP) and labour force (Babatunde and Oyatode, 2005). Cereals are those members of the grass family, the  Poeceace grown for their characteristic fruit, the caryopsis, which have been the most important sources of world’s food for the last 10,000 years (Onwueme and Sinha, 1991). Wheat and barley are the oldest cultivated cereals. Their cultivation started in the fertile crescent of Mesopotamia some 10,000 years ago, this region now include parts of Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran (Onwueme and Sinha, 1991). The major cereal crops in Nigeria are rice, maize, sorghum, wheat, pearl, millet, sugar cane and fonio millet with rice ranking as the sixth major crop in terms of the land area while sorghum account for 50% of the total cereal production and occupies about 45% of the total land area devoted to cereal production in Nigeria (national extension agricultural research and liaison station (NEARLS, 1996).  The role of cereals to modern society is related to its

importance as food crop throughout the world. In most parts of Asia and Africa, cereals products comprise 80% or more of the average diet, in central and western Europe, as much as 50% and in the United State, between 20 – 25% (Onwueme and Sinha, 1991). Cereals are the major dietary energy suppliers and provide significant amount of protein, minerals (potassium and calcium) and vitamins (vitamin A and C) (Idem and Showemimo, 2004). Cereals are consumed in a variety of forms, including pastes, noodles, cakes, breads, drinks etc. depending on the ethnic or religious affiliation. The bran, husk, plant parts and other residues (after processing) are useful as animal feeds and in the culture of micro-organism. Wax syrup and gum are extracted from cereals for industrial purposes. Different Nigeria ethnic groups use cereal crops residues for different purposes. More than 70% of the working adult populations in Nigeria are employed in the agricultural sector directly or indirectly and over 90% of Nigeria’s agricultural output comes from peasant farmers who dwell in the rural areas where 60% of the population live. The vast majority of these farmers have limited access to modern input and other productive resources are unlikely to have access to pesticides, fertilizers, hybrid seeds and irrigation without some form of public sector intervention (Ogunwole et al., 2004). Some of major problems militating cereals production in Nigeria are climatic factors (rainfall, temperature and solar radiation), soil factors, migration, socioeconomic considerations and government policies, pests and diseases among others.

The rate of growth of Nigeria’s food production is 2.5% per annum in recent years, while food demand has been,growing at the rate of more than 3.5% per annum due to high rate of population growth of 2.83% (Kolawole and Ojo, 2007). This paper attempts to make available new vital information that could help in increasing cereals production to meet the ever increasing Nigeria demand for both its human and animal population. cereal is any true grass cultivated for the edible components of its grain (botanically, a type of fruit called a caryopsis), composed of the endosperm, germ, and bran. Cereal grains are grown in greater quantities and provide more food energy worldwide than any other type of crop they are therefore staple crops. Some plants often referred to as cereals, like buckwheat and quinoa, are considered instead pseudocereals, since they are not grasses.

In their natural form (as in whole grain), they are a rich source of vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, fats, oils, and protein. When refined by the removal of the bran and germ, the remaining endosperm is mostly carbohydrate. In some developing nations, grain in the form of rice, wheat, millet, or maize constitutes a majority of daily sustenance. In developed nations, cereal consumption is moderate and varied but still substantial.

While each individual species has its own peculiarities, the cultivation of all cereal crops is similar. Most are annual plants; consequently one planting yields one harvest. Wheat, rye, triticale, oats, barley, and spelt are the “cool-season” cereals. These are hardy plants that grow well in moderate weather and cease to grow in hot weather (approximately 30 °C, but this varies by species and variety). The “warm-season” cereals are tender and prefer hot weather. Barley and rye are the hardiest cereals, able to overwinter in the subarctic and Siberia. Many cool-season cereals are grown in the tropics. However, some are only grown in cooler highlands, where it may be possible to grow multiple crops in a year.

For a few decades, there has also been increasing interest in perennial grain plants.

This interest developed due to advantages in erosion control, reduced need of fertiliser, and potential lowered costs to the farmer. Though research is still in early stages, The Land Institute in Salina, Kansas has been able to create a few cultivars that produce a fairly good crop yield. The warm-season cereals are grown in tropical lowlands year-round and in temperate climates during the frost-free season. Rice is commonly grown in flooded fields, though some strains are grown on dry land. Other warm climate cereals, such as sorghum, are adapted to arid conditions.Cool-season cereals are well-adapted to temperate climates. Most varieties of a particular species are either winter or spring types. Winter varieties are sown in the autumn, germinate and grow vegetatively, then become dormant during winter. They resume growing in the springtime and mature in late spring or early summer. This cultivation system makes optimal use of water and frees the land for another crop early in the growing season.

Winter varieties do not flower until springtime because they require vernalization: exposure to low temperatures for a genetically determined length of time. Where winters are too warm for vernalization or exceed the hardiness of the crop (which varies by species and variety), farmers grow spring varieties. Spring cereals are planted in early springtime and mature later that same summer, without vernalization. Spring cereals typically require more irrigation and yield less than winter cereals.

Once the cereal plants have grown their seeds, they have completed their life cycle. The plants die and become brown and dry. As soon as the parent plants and their seed kernels are reasonably dry, harvest can begin.

In developed countries, cereal crops are universally machine-harvested, typically using a combine harvester, which cuts, threshes, and winnows the grain during a single pass across the field. In developing countries, a variety of harvesting methods are in use, depending on the cost of labor, from combines to hand tools such as the scythe or cradle.

If a crop is harvested during wet weather, the grain may not dry adequately in the field to prevent spoilage during its storage. In this case, the grain is sent to a dehydrating facility, where artificial heat dries it.

In North America, farmers commonly deliver their newly harvested grain to a grain elevator, a large storage facility that consolidates the crops of many farmers. The farmer may sell the grain at the time of delivery or maintain ownership of a share of grain in the pool for later sale. Storage facilities should be protected from small grain pests, rodents and birds.

Some grains are deficient in the essential amino acid lysine. That is why many vegetarian cultures, in order to get a balanced diet, combine their diet of grains with legumes. Many legumes, on the other hand, are deficient in the essential amino acid methionine, which grains contain. Thus, a combination of legumes with grains forms a well-balanced diet for vegetarians. Common examples of such combinations are dal (lentils) with rice by South Indians and Bengalis, dal with wheat in Pakistan and North India, and beans with corn tortillas, tofu with rice, and peanut butter with wheat bread (as sandwiches) in several other cultures, including Americans. The amount of crude protein found in grain is measured as the grain crude protein concentration.

For more than three decades (1965–present) we have witnessed the phenomenal growth of cereal crop productivity in the developing world: rice in Asia; wheat, globally in irrigated and favorable production environments; and maize in Mesoamerica and select locations in Africa and Asia. The extraordinary growth in cereal crop productivity, aptly termed the Green Revolution, resulted from an increase in land productivity and occurred in areas of growing land scarcity and/or areas with high land values. It was always associated with

strong market infrastructure and supportive government policies. Significant investment in research and infrastructure development, especially irrigation, were the principal components of the strategy for improving cereal crop productivity during this era. In the post-Green Revolution period, particularly in Asia, productivity growth has been sustained through increased input use and, more recently, through more efficient use of inputs. Lately, however, indicators show a decrease in the growth rate of productivity of two of the three primary cereals—rice and wheat—especially in the intensively cultivated lowlands of Asia. This reduction in productivity growth can be attributed to three key factors: 1) degradation of the land resource base due to intensive cultivation; 2) declining infrastructure and research investments; and 3) the increasing opportunity cost of labor. Future increases in food productivity growth will rely on substantial research investments aimed at shifting the yield frontier of rice and wheat, and improving the profitability of cereal crop production systems through more efficient use of inputs. Increasing cereal crop productivity through the application of modern science to agriculture has been most successful in land-scarce economies, particularly in Asia. Partial and total factor productivity studies conducted in Asia attest to the contributions made by biological innovations to increasing food production and alleviating food scarcity. The returns to investments in agricultural research and irrigation infrastructure have been the highest in areas with acute land scarcities, but good market infrastructures. Rising land values caused by increasing land scarcity, and the rapid adoption of crop intensification technologies have been key factors contributing to productivity growth for rice and wheat in much of Asia. The published literature for Latin America and Africa is much sparser and presents a more mixed record. At an individual country level, cereal yields have increased markedly in some Latin American and African countries, while demonstrating a more variable pattern in others. Given lower population densities than those found in Asia, the forces influencing intensification and productivity growth have been the level of prior investments in market infrastructure and the extent to which countries pursued an export-oriented trade policy. As demand for cereals became more elastic through improved access to domestic and export markets, the expansion of cereal output became profitable with the adoption of productivity-enhancing technologies. Cereal crop productivity growth in Argentina, Brazil, and South Africa can be traced to the explicit export orientation of their agricultural sectors. In contrast, cereal crop output and productivity growth rates have been particularly low in sub-Saharan Africa over the last three decades. In many parts of the region, rapid population growth has outstripped more modest gains in food crop production. Relative land abundance (in comparison to Asia), poor market infrastructure, and inward-looking trade policies contributed to the modest performance of this region’s cereal crop sector. Farmers there face an inelastic demand for basic cereals and have little incentive to invest in productivity-enhancing technologies.  information on the seasonal distri-bution of susceptible crops and of the bird pests. During the 1970s, survey work was first accom-plished using solely Landrovers, then Landrovers in conjunction with fixed wing aircraft, and later helicopters. This work is extremely time-consuming, logistically difficvlt, and expensive, Some new and interesting techniques to facilitate gathering this kod of information recently have been investigated. Miniature radio transmitters weighing 1.8 g have been developed (Bruggers et al. 1981a) and successfully used to locate nesting colonies of quelea and follow their movements and those of ,village weavers in remote parts of Ethiopia (Brut jers et al., in press).

The transmit-ters provide an economically efficient tool for locating and subsequently controlling nesting colonies during their early development. Likewise, aerially applied fluorescent particles used to mass-mark birds inthe Ethiopian Rift Valley during 1981 also have control implications (Jaeger et al., in press). A number of marked biros already have been recovered inroosts and breeding colonies in the northern Rift Valley, as far as 750 km from the nesting colonies in which they were sprayed in mid-June. This preliminary finding suggests a fragmented and probably multidirectional disper-sal from breeding colonies in southern Ethiopia. These findings demonstrate that quelea breed twice in the Rift Valley and imply that there is little justification for their control in the south (Jaeger, unpublished data). The feasibility af detecting trace element patterns in feathers to identify populations is also being investigated. These techniques can provide information that will allow for early detection of colonies and permit control operations to be directed at those colonies actual-ly causing damage even though they may be temporally and spatially separated from cropping areas.

Such a strategy, but based on morphological criteria of the birds and breeding phenology, was successfully employed in Ethiopia between 1978 and 1980 (Jaeger and Erickson 1980). Bird damage to sorghum was much lower between these years as compared with the previous 2 years when control was not attempted. Without lethal control of breeding colonies during 1976 and 1977, the combined estimated losses of sorghum to birds in certain critical cropping areas were 27 to 30% in 1976 and 13% in 1977 representing U.S. $4.0 and 0.7 million, respectively. Average overall losses for this area are projected at 40 000 metric tons annually (16%), valued at U.S. $6.0 million. This compares with overall losses of 2, 3, and 4% during 1978, 1979, and 1980, respectively (representing between U.S. $0.3 and 0.9 million each year), when selected breeding colonies were destroyed (Table 3). During 1980, avicidal sprays were directed at quelea concentrations of more than 8 million birds occupying more than 90 ha in 7 locations of Ethiopia with 50-90% success (Table 4). The success of these control operations  preharvest damage assessments and increased yields, not solely the percent kill of birds, as is commonly practiced in Africa. Ways of using the chemical repellent methiocarb more effectively also are being explored. Practices are changing from those of applying the chemical to an entire field to spraying only the edges or spots inthe field that are being damaged (Bruggers et LI. 1981b). Similerly, laboratory and preliminary field trials have shown that combining a sensory cue (like wattle tannin) with reduced quantities of methiocarb can provide protection that is comparable, but less expensive, than that obtained when methiocarb was used alone (Bullard  Bruggers, and Kilburn, Denver Wildlife Research Center, unpublished data).

Woronecki and Dolbeer (1980) pointed out that the control of bird damage usually is directed at the pest bird with little consideration given to understanding its relationship to the control of other pests in the field. They show that the presence or absence of insects may greatly influence bird damage control programs, particularly when chemical repellents are used. Similarly, the presence of weeds in a field can completely i rgate any repellent effects of a chemical (Bruggers, unpublished data). Management techniques will be more consistently effective if bird damage control is approached from an integrated, not isolated viewpoint (Woronecki and Dolbeer 1980) and cultural practices are considered. torage problems may sometimes arise with the introduction of new, high-yielding varieties. Traditional crop varieties are often more resistant to storage pests than improved varieties. In eastern and southern Africa maize was introduced as a cereal crop and gained rapid acceptance. Under suitable climatic conditions and through the use of intensive cultivation techniques, it has been possible to realize much higher yields for maize than for indigenous grains such as millets and sorghum. Maize is resistant to bird damage in the field, although some improved varieties present problems in storage. Some high-yielding varieties have a larger cob which is less tightly bound by its sheath than the cob of the original introductions. In traditional maize storage structures the grain is stored on the cob in maize cribs. High-yielding hybrid maize is much more susceptible to insect attack, which leads to higher storage losses in these traditional structures. In a cost-benefit analysis in Zambia, the potential of building improved solid-walled bins to store the new grain varieties proved unconvincing (see Box 30). Thus the nutritional benefit to poor consumers of the introduction of high-yielding varieties is not a straightforward issue of increased yields.

Among cereals, the harder the grain the more resistant it is likely to be to pest attack. Traditional practices of storing unthreshed grains offer increased protection. For example, paddy rice is more resistant to pests than milled rice, and under village conditions, where fumigation or airtight storage is impractical, cowpeas are better stored unthreshed, as the intact, dry pods provide some protection against bruchids. Good husk cover can reduce field infestation in maize but only marginally reduces the rate of pest increase. More than ever before, the issue of climate change has become more threatening not only to the sustainable development of socio economic (including agriculture) activity of any nation but to the totality of humanexistence. This consequently informed the response of the United Nation general assembly by establishing in 1990, the Inter-government negotiation committee (INC) that drafted Negotiation and subsequently adopted the united nation framework convention on climate change (UNFCCC) on 9 May, 1992. When opened for signature in June, 1992, Nigeria was among the first set of 154 countries that signed the convention which entered into force on 21st March, 1994. Nigeria ratified the convention in August, 1994 (Adejuwon, 2004). The effect of climate change can be seen with incessant flood disaster witness in recent years in some part of the country. Several crop production fields and farm lands were destroyed. Farmers have been experiencing terminal drought in the same production field where flood has occurred (Gana et al., 2000). By the virtue of Nigeria’s location primarily within the lowland humid tropics, the country is generally characterized by a high temperature regime almost throughout the year.

Statement of the problem

The Nigerian savannah ecology is the major cereal production area in Nigeria. It accounts for about 665,600 square kilometres (about 67 million hectares), which also represent about 70% of the geographical area of Nigeria (Idem and Showemimo, 2004). It is located between latitude 07° to 14°N and longitude 03° and 15°E. Ogungubile and Olukosi (1991) stated that 85% of country’s land mass lies within the savannah region. They equally stated that more than 70% of the population that live in savannah region of Nigeria depends largely on small subsistence farming. West Africa alone produced 49.1 and 51.4 million tones of 139.5 and 144.7 in 2005 and 2006 respectively.


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Updated: 28th May 2018 — 9:39 am

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