Land Degradation and Sustainable Food Production in the Niger Delta of Nigeria

Pages: 6 (1661 words) Published: June 29, 2009


1Forestry Research Institute of Nigeria, I
2Department of Agricultural Economics
University of Ibadan, Ibadan 1Corresponding author’s e-mail address:

The exploration of crude oil in the Niger Delta are of Nigeria has created the problem of oil pollution and degradation of farm lands. Apart from disturbing the healthy agric –ecological balance, the hazards deteriorate the soil resulting in low agricultural production and farm income. The present study of the Delta and Rivers States in the Niger Delta region is based on a sample of 270 respondents’ and attempts to assess the effect of oil pollution of farm production and income. The study observed that farmers spend more on non-land resources as in problem (oil polluted) soils and yet reap in most cases a lower yield from food production and income compares to farmers in areas where soil is not affected. The study therefore recommends that government should formulate policies that will mitigate the incidence and impact of oil spillages. The government can also help the farmers by producing farm inputs and credit facilities that can assist them increase food production in the area.

Key words: Oil pollution, land degradation, sustainable agricultural productivity, Niger Delta, Niger.

One of the problems facing agricultural development especially in the developing world is the degradation of land resources and this is caused by a number of factors. Scherr and Yadar (1996) highlighted some possible causes of land degradation, which include deforestation, water and soil erosion, water logging, salinization, and removal of organic materials, bush burning and misuse of agro-chemical. Lal (1995) listed indiscriminate and intensive land use for seasonal crop production, resources based production system with non-or low purchased inputs to replenish nutrients harvested in crops and animals and inherently low soil and harsh environment as other causes of land degradation. The effects of land degradation on food production are quite obvious. Land degradation affects the yield (output) from given a land. Available evidences have shown that degradation of land has seriously undermined agricultural production in many continents of the world. A global estimate of crop productivity loss owing to land degradation in dry land made by Yadar and Scherr (1995) put the cost at between $13 billion and $28 billion per annum. Studies carried out in some countries showed that the cost of land degradation is enormous. Meyers (1989) reported that in Ethiopia soil erosion resulted in annual loss to grain production of one million tons; in India 8.4 million in terms of chemical fertilizer replacement. In the tropics as a whole, erosion on shallow or impoverished soil reduces maize yield by 30% to 70%; in Mexico yield declined from 3.8 tons to 0.6 tons to 1 ton. Other empirical studies show that soil erosion and degradation of agricultural land not only decrease land productivity but can also result in major down stream of farm off-site damage (Crosson 1985, Hauck 1985, Clark et al 1985, Warfard 1985). Regrettably, the experience of many countries in Africa shows a decline in food production as a result of socio-economic, organizational, institutional, technological and natural-climatic problems among which is the dwindling land resources due to land degradation (FMA, 1988 and Ikpi, 1995). A major cause of land degradation in the Niger Delta is from oil pollution. There are reported cases of oil spillage and gas flaring that have affected several thousand of farm land in the area. The objective of this paper is to examine the impact of the environmental problem on food crop production in the area and to proffer solutions to it.

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