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These livelihood zone summaries support the livelihood zone map developed in a series of workshops in March/April 2014. The livelihood zones identified for Nigeria during the workshops include:
NG01 – Coastal Fishing
NG02 – Southern Cocoa, Palm Oil, and Kola Nut
NG03 – South-Central Yam, Cassava, and Banana
NG04 – Southeast Rice, Salt, and Granite
NG05 – Niger and Benue River Floodplain Rice and Fishing
NG06 – Central Plain Yam and Cassava
NG07 – Mambilla Plateau Cattle, Cocoa, and Tea
NG08 – Central Highland Maize and Soybean
NG09 – Northeastern Highland Maize, Cocoyam, Potatoes, and Livestock
NG10 – North-Central Maize, Sorghum, and Cotton
NG11 – Northern Floodplains Irrigated Rice, Wheat, and Vegetables
NG12 – Northeast Millet, Cowpea, and Sesame
NG13 – Sahel Mixed Cereals and Livestock.
Nigeria’s coast supports a strong fishing economy, with fishing contributing to income and food sources between July and March for local households. The average annual rainfall of between 1,400 and 3,800 mm supports cassava, maize, and market gardening between March and November. Sales of fish, livestock, and crops constitute the major sources of income for better-off households. Poor households, on the other hand, rely on casual labor in fishing and agriculture, as well as self-employment in handicrafts, firewood collection, and brick making for income. Hunting and timber production are also common secondary activities. Local residents do not benefit significantly from oil reserves in the region. Flooding and oil spills are hazards that threaten livelihoods along the coast every few years. The main distinguishing features of classifying wealth groups in the area are the type of fishing gears and size of land owned. The better-off uses canoe and outboard engines in fishing and owns more than 1 ha of land averagely, but the poor own simple gears like nets and hooks with patches of land that is less than 1 ha.
The tropical lowland, bimodal climate in this zone supports rainforests suitable for timber, forest cash crop, plantain, and tuber production. The sale of cash crops, primarily cocoa, oil palm and kola nut, but also plantain, citrus and rubber, is the primary source of income for both the poor (households with 1 – 3 hectares) and the better off (holding 5 – 10 hectares), though poor households also earn income from labor sales in agriculture and construction. Tubers, rice, and maize are also cultivated, though generally only for household consumption, not for sale. Non-farm activities also contribute an appreciable share of household income in the zone.
The hilly, southern savannahs of the south are well-suited for tuber production with average annual rainfall generally above 1,200 mm distributed over two seasons. Regardless of the wealth group, most households rely on own production most of the year, to include various tubers, maize, beans, and plantain. Crop sales constitute the major source of income for most households. However, better-off households also sell small livestock, and poor households engage in self-employment (bush product sales and handicrafts) and agricultural wage labor.
Average annual rainfall in this zone is approximately 1200 mm in the west to 2400 in the center and east, bimodally distributed across the main season between April and July and a second season between September and November. Good rainfall over relatively poor, sandy soils suits tuber production with rice cultivation possible along waterways. Manual farm labor supplied by poor households plays an important role for the local agricultural system, as only about one quarter of the land is cultivated using mechanized farming. Better-off households earn most income from trade. This zone is also rich in mineral resources, with both better-off (mining site owners) and poor households (provide labor at mining sites) involved in mining, particularly for salt and granite, to supplement their incomes.
As its name implies, the lowland plains of this riverine zone produce a surplus of rice and fish for Nigerian markets particularly in Lagos, Kano, and Port Harcourt. There are two, relatively equally important cropping seasons with the main harvests in November-January (rice, sugarcane, maize, and vegetables), and the second, off-season harvests in July (second-season rice, maize, and sweet potato). Wealth is primarily determined by ownership of land and canoes, both essential inputs to the economic drivers of the zone, and livestock holdings. Though poor households do not produce enough rice to meet needs year-round, locally-produced foods are diverse, and own-produced cassava is commonly available to the poor from own-production during the May-June/July lean season. Shocks in this zone are considered relatively frequent with localized drought, flooding, or conflict every other year. Poor households tend to respond by intensifying the search for labor opportunities both inside and outside the zone, and increasing wild food collection and sale.
Rainfed, mechanized agriculture drives this economy with tubers (yam and cassava) and legumes (soybean and sesame) as highest priority and cereals (maize and sorghum) and horticultural products (citrus and grafted mangos) in support. Access to land, particularly irrigable land for small-scale rice production, and capital for mechanization are key drivers of wealth. Though poor households do rely heavily on crop sales for income most of the year, labor, wild game sales, and firewood sales are particularly important for ensuring food access on markets among the poor between April and June. Fishing is common in the zone, not just in rivers and tributaries accessible to poor households, but also on homestead fish ponds among the better off.
The Mambila Plateau, the highest in Nigeria at more than 2,000 m above sea level, has rich natural resources with good, reliable rainfall (1,500-1,900 mm/year), dense forests, fertile soils and a relatively low population density compared to the rest of the country (~20 people/km2). Agricultural production is primarily rainfed using draught or mechanized power with limited irrigation around the Kashimbilla Dam. Wealth in the zone is determined by access to capital to meet quality standards for cash crops, to support multi-year investments waiting for high-value crops to mature, and to maintain tree crops, as well as to transportation to markets. As a result, the poor emphasize the production of lower-value cereals and provide casual labor, while the better off invest in higher-value cash crops and cattle. Maize is the most common cereal with cocoyam acting as a lower-cost substitute among the poor and rice as a preferred food among the better off. Most households rely heavily on markets for staples in May-June, which is also the time when incomes among poor households are least diverse.
The moderate climate and regular rainfall of the central highland plains support subsistence, draught, and mechanized rainfed agriculture with an emphasis on surplus cereal (maize) and legume (cowpea, soybean) production that is harvested in October through December. The zone also has abundant mineral resources (tin, tantalite) and seven dams for fishing and irrigation of dry-season vegetables. Access to land and capital for mechanization are the primary determinants of wealth. All wealth groups purchase at least some agricultural inputs and earn a significant portion of income from crop sales. Casual labor is also a significant source of income for the poor. Despite surplus production, all wealth groups rely heavily on markets for food, either to complement own production (maize among poor households) or to substitute for preferred foods (rice among better-off households). Livestock are also common in the zone for draught power and as savings or asset diversification. While the better-off can afford to purchase and maintain cattle, poor households hold a handful of goats, sheep, or pigs and a few chickens.
This relatively drier (~850 mm between April and October) grassland plateau is well-suited for mixed farming. Wealth in this zone is determined by livestock ownership for traction and income, and access to land and fertilizer. Livestock may be sedentary or transhumant. Poor households, though they own a few small ruminants, rely primarily on rainfed (hand-tilled) agriculture, self employment (thatching and construction) and unskilled agricultural labor for food and income.
The undulating savannahs of this zone support both staple food production (maize, sorghum, and rice) and cash crop production (soybean and cowpea for the poor and cotton for the better off). The high potential for cash crop production supports a healthy demand for animal traction and machinery in the agricultural sector, though poor households continue to use manual labor for cultivation, resulting in lower yields. Land, again, is the primary determinant of wealth. Livestock are important for animal traction, but relatively minor as a source of income.
Though rainfall varies throughout the zone, the distinguishing feature for livelihoods is the riverine lowlands from which farmers can harvest two crops of rice, maize, and/or wheat per year, the first, main harvest in February to May, and the second in September/October. The proximity of so many bodies of water and high reliance on irrigated cereal production also renders these livelihoods particularly vulnerable to flooding in August/September. The risk of flooding and availability of land may constrain production during the second season. Poor households’ reliance on market purchases for food coincides with the least diversity in income-generating opportunities between July and September.
The plains and shores on the Nigerian side of Lake Chad are semiarid (300-800 mm of rainfall between April and September), but are particularly well suited to rainfed millet and cowpea production, which, as it happens, also provides fodder for large cattle markets in Maiduguri. The cattle trade is supplied primarily by cattle from eastern Niger and western Chad and mainly supplies urban markets of Onitsha, Ibadan, and Lagos. Though livestock production is an important secondary activity in this zone, as in zone 13, small ruminant production is relatively more important here than cattle. Sorghum and maize are also produced. As in most semiarid agricultural zones, land is the most significant determinant of wealth. Unskilled labor, self-employment, and crop sales income are insufficient for poor households to be able to finance animal traction or machinery to be able to cultivate more land. The lean season is from June through August.
Relatively fertile, though sandy, soils and relatively reliable rainfall of 400-700 mm/year (June-September) supports rainfed cropping of millet, sorghum, and legumes (cowpea, groundnut, and sesame) as the primary livelihood activity in this zone. Off-season market gardening is common. Livestock sales are a more important source of income than in neighboring Zone 12, with most households keeping some goats and poultry; better-off households can afford to keep more livestock, including large cattle herds. Poor households lack sufficient land to rely on own production; they purchase food for most of the year. Though they do earn some income from crop sales, particularly during the first couple of months of the harvest, they also rely heavily on on-farm and migrant labor. Better-off households, on the other hand, earn a significant portion of income from livestock and livestock product sales.
Nigeria Livelihood Zone Map
Source: FEWS NET
Livelihood Zone Description accompanies a zone map, briefly describing the main characteristics of the livelihood patterns in that zone. The maps and descriptions, which identify relevant variables by geography, are useful in informing the development of monitoring systems.