Experts have reported the decline of arable land per person in Akwa Ibom State from 0.22 to 0.11 hectare between the period of 1986 and 2013 while predicting further decrease to 0.00487 hectares per person in 2036 resulting in food insufficiency, erosion and pollution. This was disclosed by Dr. Jude Obi of Department of Soil Science and Land Resources Management, University of Uyo, during a sensitization workshop on Integrated Soil Fertility Management in the South-South Zone of Nigeria organized recently by Nigerian Soil Health Consortium, NgSHC, South-South Zone.
Citing apparent lack of appropriate legislation for preservation of prime land for agriculture as contributing to sharp decline in arable land in Akwa Ibom State, Dr. Obi maintained that several other sectors will stifle agricultural production in the state thus making it impossible to provide enough food.
During his presentation, Prof. Peter Ogban, who is the NgSHC South-South coordinator, noted that soil-fertility depletion is a common phenomenon in the small-holder farms and is the fundamental biophysical root cause for declining per capita of food production in the south-south zone. Ogban said that the workshop was to create awareness that there are improved technologies and inputs that could be used by the farmers in improving the soil, their production capacity, and livelihoods sustainably. He added that improving the farmer’s conditions and livelihood needed an integrated responsibility of the stakeholders in agriculture; commitment and support.
Mrs. C. Ebele, who represented Dr. D. J. Udoh, Acting Head of Soil Science Department, Akwa Ibom State University, brainstormed that satisfactory yields are not obtained from southern Nigeria’s soils except with serious technological interventions through integrated soil fertility management, which involve the use of fertilizers, manures and soil amendments. She disclosed that recent trends in fertilizer research is in support for the development of organo-mineral fertilizers and use of such combinations.
Meanwhile, Mr. Dennis Etong, the Chairman of All Farmers Association of Nigeria, AFAN, Akwa Ibom State Chapter, decried disconnection between the farmers and the state government saying that money voted for agriculture has not reached the farmers who supposed to be the end-users. He called on the consortium to look for a way to channel appropriate information and technologies to farmers in the rural areas.
Speaking exclusively to The Sensor, Prof. Trenchard Ibia, former Commissioner for Agriculture and University of Uyo’s former Deputy Vice-Chancellor, commended farmers in the state and tasked government to encourage them in agricultural production.
“I want to encourage the farmers to keep on doing what they are doing. Let me also encourage government to do more to the farmers. If the government has done one thing, let them accelerate tempo and do more, and let farmers not complain too much. The state government should see what can be done to make an improvement in agriculture,” he said.