In most agrarian economies like the type that exists in Nigeria, agricultural production provides the needed fulcrum upon which a sustainable development would blossom. Being the main source of food for most of the population, till date, agricultural production remains the mainstay of the Nigerian economy. It provides the means of livelihood for most of the population, a major source of raw materials for the agro-allied industries and a potent source of the much needed foreign exchange. However, inadequate credit (among other factors) to the agricultural sector led to the downward trend observed in agricultural productivity in Nigeria. To avert such trend, the Federal Government of Nigeria established the Agricultural Credit Guarantee Scheme Fund (ACGSF) in 1977 to assist farmers have access to credit as to improve agricultural productivity. The setting up of the ACGSF was predicated on the unwillingness of commercial banks to give loans to smallholder farmers for reasons of high default rate on loan repayment and, therefore high risk, of repayment. In the course of the fund’s operations, a number of problems have been identified as militating against its smooth performance; some of which affected the amount of credit granted to the various agricultural subsectors. Therefore, this study sought to examine (i) the impact of Agricultural Credit Guarantee Scheme Fund on crop output in Nigeria; (ii) the impact of Agricultural Credit Guarantee Scheme Fund on livestock output in Nigeria; (iii) the impact of Agricultural Credit Guarantee Scheme Fund on fisheries output in Nigeria; and (iv) the impact of Agricultural Credit Guarantee Scheme Fund total fund granted on Agricultural output and productivity in Nigeria. The ex-post facto research design was adopted to enable the researcher make use of secondary data and determine cause-effect relationship during the period, 1978-2008. The Ordinary Least Square (OLS) estimation technique was adopted, using SPSS statistical software to test the hypotheses, where Total Agricultural Credit Guarantee Scheme Fund (TACGSF), Agricultural Credit Guarantee Scheme Fund to crop production (ACGSFCP), Agricultural Credit Guarantee Scheme Fund to livestock (ACGSFLSP) and Agricultural Credit Guarantee Scheme Fund to fisheries (ACGSFP) were used as the independent variables while Agricultural Production (AP), Gross Domestic Product Agricultural Crop Production (GDPACP), Gross Domestic Product Agricultural Livestock Production (GDPALS) and Gross Domestic Product Agricultural Fisheries Production (GDPAFP) were used as the dependent variable. The study found that Agricultural Credit guarantee scheme fund for crop production, livestock production and fisheries had significant positive impact on crop, livestock and fisheries productivity in Nigeria for the period of the study and also, the total agricultural credit guarantee scheme fund had significant positive impact on agricultural output in Nigeria. The study therefore recommends that stakeholders in the scheme viz: the farmers, lending institutions and government must show greater commitment and dedication for the scheme to achieve its laudable objectives.

1.1     Background of the Study
Agricultural Production in Nigeria is progressively on the decline in terms of its contribution to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as well as satisfying the country’s food requirement, despite the fact that about 70 per cent of the population engage in agriculture, thus Nigeria agricultural sector is unable to fulfill its most basic and traditional role of being the source of food for the nation, therefore the food import has continued to rise (Odigbo, 2000). There is a growing recognition by the Nigerian farmers of the effect of improved inputs and new technologies on agricultural yield. The use of these inputs and the adoption of high yielding techniques have given rise to an increased need for agricultural credit since majority of Nigerian farmers are small-scale farmers and are often limited by unfavorable economic, social, cultural and institutional conditions (Olubiyo and Hill, 2000). Insufficiency of capital has been a major constraint to agricultural development (Agu, 1998) in order to improve agricultural production modern farm inputs such as fertilizers, improved seed, feeds and plant protection chemicals and agricultural machineries are needed over the hoe and machete technology. Most of these technologies have to be purchased, yet very few farmers have the financial resources to finance such purchases (Adeniji and Joshua, 2008).

Agriculture contributes immensely to the Nigerian economy in various ways, namely, in the provision of food for the increasing population; supply of adequate raw materials (and labour input) to a growing industrial sector; a major source of employment; generation of foreign exchange earnings; and, provision of a market for the products of the industrial sector (Okumadewa, 1997; World Bank, 1998; Winters et al., 1998; FAO, 2006). The agrarian sector has a strong rural base; hence, concern for agriculture and rural development become synonymous, with a common root (Eze et. al., 2010).

Eze et. al. (2010) posit that support for agriculture is widely driven by the public sector, which has established institutional support in form of agricultural research, extension, commodity marketing, input supply, and land use legislation, to fast-track development of agriculture. These are aside the Private sector participation is not limited to local or foreign direct and portfolio investment financing, but also to sponsorship of research and breakthrough on agricultural issues in universities, capacity building for farmers and, most importantly, the provision of financing to farm businesses. International governmental and non-governmental agencies including the World Bank, Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations, etc., also contribute through on-farm and off-farm support in form of finance, input supply, strengthening of technical capacity of other support institutions, etc (see, Eze et. al., 2010).

At independence in 1960, Nigeria’s agriculture was characterized by high production achieved by mobilizing small scale farmers, provision of infrastructure (roads, railways) geared towards developing crops required for export, and foundation laid for research and export. After independence, government interventions in agriculture were realized within the framework of development plans and annual budgets. Food was abundant and demand met without resort to import (Okoro and Ujah, 2009).

Using a broad classification, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) document the import and export agricultural products in the following categories – live animals and animal products; vegetable products; animal and vegetable fats and oil; foodstuff, beverages, spirit and vinegar, tobacco; and raw hides and skins leather, furskins, and saddler. The agricultural exports of significance include cocoa beans and products, rubber, fish/shrimp, cotton, processed skin, etc (Okoro and Ujah, 2009). These agricultural products account for about 39.7% of the total nonoil exports in 2007 (CBN, 2007). According to Soludo (2006), agriculture has been growing at about 7% per annum in the last three years and has been driving the nonoil growth, and will continue to hold the key to growth, employment and poverty reduction.

In terms of value of import visàvis export, Nigeria is a huge netimporter of agricultural products. The importexport gap has been widening since 1999 and this puts the agricultural policy of the nation to question. This situation, however, provides a unique opportunity for closing up or eliminating this ‘agricultural deficit’ through functional policies and budgets (Okoro and Ujah, 2009).

Agriculture also is a significant sector in the Nigerian economy. Although Nigeria depends heavily on the oil industry for her revenues, Nigeria is predominantly an agrarian society with the sector contributing about 42%1 of real GDP in 2008 (CBN, 2008). In 2007, the contribution of agriculture to economy totaled some $132.2 billion (Economist, Sept. 2008). Eboh, Ujah and Nzeh (2009) show that the contemporary economic significance of the.....

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