Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Agriculture and Economic Development of Akwa Ibom State

Agriculture and Economic Development of Akwa Ibom State


Agriculture is the culti vation and breeding  of animals, plants  and fungi for food, fiber, biofuel, medicinal plants and other products used to sustain and enhance human life.

Agriculture  was a the key development in the rise of sedentary human civilization whereby farming of domesticated species created food surpluses that nurtured the development of civilization. The study of agriculture is known  as agricultural science.

The history of agriculture Dates back to thousands of years, and its development has been driven and defined by greatly different climates, cultures and technologies.

The major agricultural products can be broadly grouped into food,fibers,fuel, and raw materials.

Specific foods include cereals ( grains),vegetables, fruits,oils, meats and spices.

Fibers include cotton,wool,hemp,silk and flax. Raw materials include lumber and bamboo . Other useful materials are also produced by plants such resins,dyes, drugs,perfumes,biofuel and ornaments products such as cut flowers and nursery plants.

Over the third of the world’s workers are employed in agriculture, second only to the service sector, although the percentages of agricultural workers in developed countries has decreased significantly over the past several centuries.

Although Akwa Ibom State is rich in other natural endowment, a sizeable percentage of the state’s economy is dependent on agricultural resources, which makes it a goldmine for investors.

The state is blessed with numerous rivers,creeks, and streams, enhancing favourable all year season for agricultural activities.

The local Government Areas in the state are involved in the cultivation of food crops like cassava,yam ,cocoyam, maize,rice ,cowpea,melon,plantain,vegetables, banana,pineapples,African peas,etc. Cash crops like oil palm,coconut,rubber,raffia palm,Melina, and kolanut are also cultivated by a large percentage of the population.  

Oil palm
One of the major industrial crop in the state is the oil palm tree. The oil palm can be found in all the 31 local government areas in the state. Akwa Ibom State is reputed to have the highest number of oil palm trees per capita in Nigeria.

The oil palm
[4/28, 12:56 PM] Josephine: The oil palm produce when properly harnessed for economic development will aid the growth of the downstream industries which can extract and refine the oil for the manufacturing industries, who will in turn produce vegetable oil,soaps,margarine, glycerine, candles,detergents,polish etc.

The palm produce can also be exported to other parts  of the World in the large quantities. Other by- products from the oil palm industries are used for the production of feeds for livestock, domestic brooms ,brushes ,footmats as well as construction of houses.

This is another industrial crop that is readily available in the state. Due to the oil boom of the 60’s and the attendants over dependence on crude oil at the expense of agriculture, the cultivation of rubber in commercial quantities in Akwa Ibom State like other parts of the country,suffered a decline.

However, some farmers have gone back to the cultivation of the tree for commercial purposes. This is with the support of the state government. 

Rubber trees can be found in Itam, Oku, Ndon Ebom, Ifiayong Obot ,Use Ikot Amama and some parts of Uyo.

Since global demand for rubber is on the increase , rubber Industry will thrive greatly in the state . Rubber will boast the manufacturing industries as the derivatives are used in the production of rubber based products like tyres for automobile
[4/28, 12:56 PM] Josephine: and bicycles, mattresses, boots,shoes,footmats,vulcanizing solutions.

Cocoa is available in large in large quantities in Akwa Ibom State. It is grown in Ibiono Ibom, Ini, Itu, and Ikono Local Government Areas of the State. Other Local Government Areas of the state also cultivate the cocoa trees , though not in commercial quantities. It could be processed for export and also used for various beverages, chocolates and other confectioneries.

Forest Reserve 
Several trees species are found in Akwa Ibom. Their products enjoy a very high demand the world over.

The state government is involved in forest preservation and at present, owns  three forest reserves while Akwa Ibom and Cross River State Government jointly own the fourth one. The state’s reserve are Stubbs creek forest reserve 310.87 sq km in Eket and Oron Local Government Areas. 5.18sq km Odu ITU while Obot Ndon is 2.59sq km forest reserves in Ikono Local Government Area. The fourth forest reserve is Uwet Odot and is jointly administered by both  Akwa Ibom and Cross River States.

Akwa Ibom has a coastline of about 129 km, which is complemented by abundant rivers, tributaries, mangrove, swamps,Creeks and flood plains. The marine waters are very rich in aquatic animals and fishes, while the continental shelf,creeks and swamps are the natural homes for various species of fishes ,crustaceans and shrimps. 

The state water is a very viable investment potential for export trawling for fish and shrimps ,canning and fish processing ,fish meal production in the state,government both at the state and federal level have put in place facilities to assist both local fish farmers and large scale investors . Facilities for dry-docking ,bunkering  and discharging of fishing trawlers ,sorting, processing and packaging of fish for export are all available at the federal Government established fishing terminal at Ebughu in Mbo  Local Government Area. Uman, Itu, Ibeno,Mbo,Oron,Okobo and Ikot Abasi offer  unstapped fishing potentials for investors . The main species of fish in Akwa Ibom are bongas , crabs oysters, sharks , periwinkles ,prawns and shrimps.

Moreso, an area of special interest is livestock farming . 

“Akwa Ibom state will become the hub of agricultural activities in Nigeria and the entire West African Sub- region by 2020,when the efforts of the current government in developing agriculture begins to yield positive results within the medium term and in the long run expectation. Also, output optimisation in agriculture in the state will translate into job creation for the indigenes especially the youths”, said an entreprenuer, princess Gladys Assam. 

She also revealed that the Governor is doing a lot to boast industrial growth in the state through investment in agriculture which he demonstrated by putting measures in place to revamp the Akwa palm Limited, an agro -allied industry in Esit Eket Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State. When the industry is fully repositioned ,it will generate income and create jobs for the people. For instance, the state government successfully launched the second season planting scheme ,which is an important agricultural project capable of stimulating income flow and food production in the state.

[4/28, 9:05 PM] Josephine: With the declining crude oil Prices in the International markets ,it is clear that governor Udom is moving in the right direction by investing in agriculture which a sector capable of diversifying the economy to ensure we move away from oil into non-oil sector like what obtains in advanced countries. Udom said clearly that his government is determined to change the face of farmers in the state ,with a vision to ensuring poverty alleviation and employment creation for the people. He is mapping out strategies that will turn Akwa Ibom into the food basket in the region . He has been able to set up a committee on agriculture and food sufficiency to drive agricultural projects in the area. 

The inauguration of a Technical Committee on Agriculture and food sufficiency in addition to a Ministry of Agriculture and the subsequent beehives of agricultural and agro-allied activities across the state give tangibility to Akwa Ibom State drive at exploiting nature’s vast endowment to ensure food availability and economic advancement.

Akwa Ibom has been able to attract the N200 million grant from the Federal Government to support full value chain in cassava, tomatoes, rice,and sorghum having paid six million naira counter part funding to be able to access the FADAMA III Additional Financing Intervention Project of the Federal Government Service Providers ,input suppliers , agro-dealers ,processors, off takers and marketers are all proposed to benefit from these

Farmers in crops ,livestock and fisheries are build to benefit from this scheme.
In view of these prospects , a good number of local and foreign investors have indicated interest in the areas feed production, food processing, waste management and waste recycling in the state. These will add to the many prospective jobs in the agriculture sector.

Akwa Ibom State Government has entered into an agreement on agricultural development, infrastructural expansion and consolidation with Ashdone Associates Nigeria, a non profit organization reputed to have successfully executed business in about twenty nine countries of the world.

The organization will explore the abundant agricultural resources especially in respect to rice production and the coconut refinery projects.

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