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Why Niger State’s GDP is the biggest in the North

Many people were left puzzled when I shared a BusinessDay publication listing the top 10 economies in Nigeria.  It reported that Niger State’s GDP is…

Many people were left puzzled when I shared a BusinessDay publication listing the top 10 economies in Nigeria.  It reported that Niger State’s GDP is among the top 10 in Nigeria and the only one among the 19 northern states on that list, which left many baffled. Understandably so, as it surprised me too. The first question readers asked was “Where’s Kano and where’s Kaduna?”

About that, I wrote on my Facebook page: 

“Niger State is one of the top 10 richest states in Nigeria and the only state from the North that makes the list. Does that mean our economy is bigger than that of Kano and Kaduna? Yes. Niger (N4.58 trillion) is bigger than Kaduna (4.31 trillion) and Kano (4.20 trillion) https://businessday.ng/news/article/top-10-richest-states-in-nigeria-ranked-by-gdp/”

However, upon examining the three primary sectors of a state’s GDP, the figures become more believable. Let’s break them down, shall we? 

The three sectors are:

  1. Agriculture (primary)
  2. Industry (secondary)
  3. Services (tertiary)

In 2022, agriculture contributed 23.69% to Nigeria’s GDP, while industry added 30.78%, and services contributed 44% (as reported by Statista). Assuming national percentages are reflected at the sub-national level, Niger State’s advantage over other northern states becomes apparent.

Starting with agriculture, no state in Nigeria engages in agriculture more than Niger State. Take rice, for example, the most consumed staple food globally. 

According to the Africa Rice Centre, Nigeria is the biggest producer in West Africa, and Niger State grows more rice than any other state in Nigeria (Agricultural Performance Survey 2017 of NAERLS, ABU Zaria, cited in Thisday on March 1, 2018). 

It’s probably the only state where all senatorial districts in Niger State produce rice, with the northern part (Wushishi), the eastern part (Gawu), and the entire southern region (Nupe-speaking area) all engaged in rice farming. 

In Katcha LGA, over 200 trailers can be seen evacuating rice in a day, with 12 of them coming from a single farm. This is not to mention the significant soybeans and corn production around Kontagora and yam farming by the Gbagis. In fact, every household in Niger State has a farm.

It’s the destination of choice for dry-season farmers from the Northwest. 

Niger State is also a major player in livestock production, evident in its bustling livestock markets like Mariga Cattle Market, where billions of naira are exchanged weekly. 

I didn’t know that Niger State exported vegetables to the southern part of the country until last month when we visited Sachi and Nku to parley with farmers who grow vegetables on the banks of River Kaduna (or what the locals call Lavun). 

We also have large farms such as Maizube and the new dairy farm said to be owned by the Babangidas. 

In the secondary sector (industries such as manufacturing and processing), Niger State is among the leading states. Many Nigerians, including Nigerlites, may not know that Niger hosts the largest rice mill in Nigeria – Kiara Rice, owned by Indians operating in Mokwa LGA. Additionally, the Suleja/Dikko axis is home to numerous factories engaged in processing, not to mention the sugar and grain processing in the southern part of the state. 

I do business with Desert Farms located near Dikko. It’s invested billions of naira in its poultry farm even though the owners are from Katsina. Many of such farms operate in that area. 

This strategic location of industries in Niger allows producers to access markets because Niger State is the most central state in the country.

Small-scale industries owned by individuals and families, like the Bokanis, who own at least eight different production facilities within Minna, also thrive in Niger State. These facilities produce palm kernel, soap, and bread, and will soon start milk production.

Then Niger has four hydropower generating companies: Shiroro, Zungeru, Kainji and Jebba. These, sometimes, carry the entire nation on their shoulders. That’s why the electricity supply is noticeably better during the rainy season. 

While Niger State may not have an edge in the tertiary sector (services), it is not behind other northern states. In financial services, for instance, Niger State has an equal number of banks and POS services as other states. 

Indeed, if the new strides of the government of Farmer Governor Bago are carried to term, I predict that Niger State will be among the top five economies in Nigeria.

In conclusion, Niger State’s impressive GDP figures are no surprise when you consider its dominance in agriculture and industry. From rice and soybean production to livestock and vegetable farming, the state’s fertile land and strategic location make it an economic powerhouse. 

Add to that its thriving industrial sector, with major players like Kiara Rice and Desert Farms, and it’s clear why Niger State stands out from its northern counterparts. While there’s room for growth in the services sector, the state’s overall economic performance is a testament to the hard work and entrepreneurial spirit of its people. 

As the government continues to support and develop these industries, Niger State is poised to become one of the top economies in Nigeria, a true giant in the north.


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