OIL PALM PRODUCTION IN THE SOUTH SOUTH REGION OF AKWA IBOM STATE

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OIL PALM PRODUCTION IN THE SOUTH SOUTH REGION OF AKWA IBOM STATE

CHAPTER ONE

1.1   BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY

The Area presently known as Nigeria existed as distinct autonomous regions. It was thus recognized as; the western region, eastern region and the northern region respectively. Each regions was rich in natural resources, that their environmental conditions had substantial impacts on the said regions.1 Notable in this regard was the oil palm belt (Abia, Anambra, Delta, Ondo, Calabar, Edo, Akwa ibom, among others) whose environment appeared favorable to oil palm production. Available evidence suggested that oil palm trees flourishes when planted in deep, slightly acidic loamy soil with P5.6, under a climate condition of humid tropics with 250 cm rainfall.2

Historically, Nigeria alongside her west African neighbors used to be the centre of oil palm production, accounting for west Africa alone export of 157,000 tones of palm kernel, of which 73% came from Nigeria alone.3 Agriculture had been and still remains a very important sector in Nigeria leading to the establishment of Agricultural research Institute in Nigeria, which started formally with the establishment of a botanical garden in Lagos, during the late 19th century. This garden was part of a network of gardens, established under British rule, focusing on the introduction of new crops. In 1903, the forestry and Botanical Department (renamed ‘agricultural department’) for Southern Nigeria was created. In 1912, it was divided into two regional departments, resulting in the establishment of a Department of Agriculture for Northern Nigeria. And in 1914, following the unification of Nigeria, the two departments were merged to form a new Department of Agriculture. Progress was made in terms of infrastructure and human resources, resulting in new research stations, more research personnel, and a more technical research program that included plant breeding and plant pathology. However, research continued to focus, on export crops; like oil palm, rubber, cotton, and cocoa. The oil palm rehabilitation scheme (OPRS) therefore became the major Agricultural scheme for the eastern Nigerian ministry of Agriculture during 1962-1968 development plan.4

Indeed, agricultural research remained, the domain of the local colonial government until world war2, when the British government sought a more active role in the promoting Science and technology in its colonies, which led to the creation of several regional agricultural research institutions in West Africa which complemented existing facilities and as part of the West Africa Inter-territorial Research Organization (WAIFRO). Three of these are “The West African Institute for Oil Palm Research (WAIFOR), the West Africa Institute for Trypanosomiasis Research (WAITR), and the West African Stored Products Research Unit (WASPRU) located in Nigeria5. With independence in 1960, the regional institutes were nationalized and the Nigerian Institute for Oil Palm Research (NIFOR), Nigerian Institute for Trypanosomiasis Research (NITR), Nigerian Stored Product Research Institute (NSPRI) and Cocoa Research Institute of Nigeria (CRIN) came on board. With Independence of member countries and dissolution of WARO, a new legislation changed the name WAIFOR to NAIFOR by the Nigeria Institute Act No.33, 1964. NAIFOR, then charged with the responsibility of undertaking research not only with the oil palm but also into other economic palms such as coconut, raphia, date and ornamental palms.6 For the purposes of undertaking research into and investigation of problems and matter relating to the oil palm and its product, and for the provision of information and advice relating to the oil palm- NIFOR pamphlet on History, Activities, and Achievement.

NIFOR, however, had its different sub-stations in; Benin, Dutse, Badagry, Degema and Abak. The Abak sub-station is however for palm oil. In the light of the above, this study, seeks to conduct a historical evaluation of NIFOR (Nigerian Institute for Oil Palm Research), with Abak substation, as a case study from 1960-2010.

Being the fastest growing sub-station in Nigeria, since its establishment in 1939 by the colonial masters, because of its excellent terrain according to Etokabasi Akpan, the NIFOR Abak substation has since 1964 up till 2010 experienced several activities, and most of which have influenced the host community.

Hence, this studies will place more emphasis on changes and continuity in order to ascertain the degree of changes that occurred in Abak substation of the Nigerian Institute of Oil Palm Research, the institution’s objectives, it’s mode of operation, its contribution to the host community, as well as it’s relationship.

The research will also, give attention to oil palm production in the South South region (a region which covers Akwa ibom state).7 Thus, focusing on  NIFOR , and it impacts on  the oil palm production in this area and its host community in particular from 1964 (when it the institution name changed from WAIFOR to NIFOR) till 2010.

OIL PALM PRODUCTION IN THE SOUTH SOUTH REGION OF AKWA IBOM STATE

OIL PALM PRODUCTION IN THE SOUTH SOUTH REGION OF AKWA IBOM STATE