For decades, agriculture has been associated with the production of essential food crops. At present, agriculture above and beyond farming includes forestry, dairy, fruit cultivation, poultry, beekeeping, mushroom, arbitrary, etc. Today, processing, marketing, and distribution of crops and livestock products, etc. Are all acknowledged as part of current agriculture? Thus, agriculture could be referred to as the production, processing, promotion, and distribution of agricultural products. Agriculture plays a critical role in the entire life of a given economy.
In Nigeria, we have different cultural practices which at times affect the way we behave, think and react, culture has an overarching impact on the individual and community. Culture can be defined as the ideas, customs, and social behavior of a particular people or society. “Culture encompasses religion, food, what we wear, how we wear it, our language, marriage, music, what we believe is right or wrong, how we sit at the table, how we greet visitors, how we behave with loved ones, and a million other things,” Cristina De Rossi, an anthropologist at Barnet and Southgate College in London, told Live Science.
Agriculture and culture intersect in the diversities obtainable in agricultural and behavioral aspects of the people which triggers the need for sustainable developments in agriculture. The word agriculture was derived from two Latin words; “agri”, which means field, and culture which has a dual meaning; to cultivate or a way of life. The dual meaning of this culture serves as a link between culture and agriculture.
Agriculture has been the dominant economy of Nigeria since the cultivation of crops and rearing of livestock has been the profession of our ancestors. When the word agriculture is being mentioned, most people view it in the aspect of its economic impact, how it has helped reduce the rate of unemployment, how many acres, how many farmers are available, profits to be gotten from it, etc. These are important factors to be considered but that is not all about agriculture, it is just a snapshot of what it entails. What is hardly mentioned is the second part of the word, “culture” of agriculture. Most people hardly talk about the heritage of agriculture, how it has been passed from generations. The variations in agriculture and culture are reflected in the different regional cultures like celebrations of the New yam festival in different regions in Nigeria.
That said, it automatically translates to the fact that the crops planted and animals reared will be based on the culture of the region and society. Since culture directly affects what we eat. It, therefore, means that crops planted and animals reared are based on what people in a particular region and culture eat. For example, the North is majorly dominated by Muslims. Their beliefs go against the eating of pork hence the region does not rear pigs. The Hausas are predominantly found in the north. The Hausa economy has rested on the intensive cultivation of sorghum, maize, millet, corn, etc.
Most of the Nigerian food is produced or cultivated in the northern part of Nigeria, so for this reason they sufficient supply of food. The Hausa eat a variety of foods that derive from their predominately agricultural livelihood. Hausa people also like to eat rice, millet, and maize. Such grain-based meals are grounded into flour food called Tuwo in their native language which can be eaten with a soup called kaka, dagegade, taushe. The soups are made with chopped tomatoes, peppers, onions, etc. Also, vegetables are being added which include Okra, pumpkin, and other leafy vegetables. A little amount of Meat, beans, peanuts, and milk are also added to provide the food with enough protein. The most popular and well-known dish is called Suya, a dried version of Suya is known as Kilishi. It is made of chicken, beef, or ram in a style of spicy kebab.
The Yoruba are predominantly found in the western part of Nigeria. The Yoruba people grow yam, corn, plantain, millet, groundnuts, peas as subsidiary crops. Cocoa is a major cash crop. The Yoruba diet comprises grains, starchy tubers, and plantains. These foods are taken with cultivated vegetables, fruits, nutritious vegetable oil, fish and meat, etc. One of the most popular food is a cassava made-like dumpling called Fufu, Amala which is made from yam flour, Iyan (pounded yam), and are taken with delicious like Ewedu, Gbegiri, Okra, Efo riro (Vegetable soup). Cultural relativism isn’t left out. As people from other cultures instead of questioning or condemning Yoruba culture embraced it with open arms. This act has created immense growth as it’s seen as a social norm in society.
The Igbos also called Ibo live mainly in the Eastern part of Nigeria. The Igbo economy has rested on the cultivation of taro, yam, cassava, melons, pumpkin, okra, and beans. Their principal export is palm oil and palm kernels. Their most important crop is yam. This is the reason for the New yam festival (Iri Ji) celebrating the harvest of new yams. The yam is pounded to a solid paste called pounded yam. And it is being eaten with different soups like Oha, Nsala, Okazi, Ofe Owerri, Akwu, etc. These are made from locally grown vegetables, fruit, and seeds. There is also Abacha, Ugba (Oil bean), Ukwa (breadfruit).
There is a relationship between agriculture and culture in the sense that the crops cultivated and cattle reared depend on the culture of the people in that region.
Agriculture development initiatives should enlighten farmers that are in the rural areas more about agriculture. It should also consider indigenous knowledge, local agricultural practices, climatic conditions, etc. for change. When all this is taken into consideration it encourages the spirit of harmony between people and the adoption of new technologies.