Agriculture is one of the most important pillars of the state’s economy with about 75% of the total working population engaged directly or indirectly in this activity. The principal food crops cultivated are millet, cowpeas, sorghum, maize and rice (for local consumption), while groundnuts and cotton are produced for export and industrial purposes. During the colonial period and several years after Nigeria’s independence, the groundnuts produced in the state constituted one of the country’s major revenue sources. Kano State is also a major producer of hides and skins, and leather tanning and decoration is one of its key industries. Kano has historically been an important trading centre (particularly in kola nuts, leather goods and cloth) and is currently the second largest industrial centre in Nigeria. The various medium and small-scale industries in the state produce various items such as textiles, mats, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, plastics, wire products, tiles and enamelware. The heavy industries manufacture cement, concrete blocks, bicycles, automobiles and chemicals. It is also home to a steel-rolling mill and a printing plant. The state is one of three in Northern Nigeria that serve as dry ports and Inland Container Depots (ICD).
The tertiary institutions in the state include a federal university (Bayero University, Kano), two state universities (Kano State University of Science and Technology, Wudil and NorthWest University, Kano), two polytechnics (Mohammed Abdullahi Wase Polytechnic and Kano State Polytechnic, Kano) and Audu Bako School of Agriculture in Dambatta. The state is also home to a school of health technology, Kano.
Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport in Kano is the oldest in Nigeria. Operations began there in 1936.