RESOURCES AND DEVELOPMENTPost Comment RESOURCES AND DEVELOPMENT Nigeria
Natural Resources: Cross River State is one of the most richly endowed agricultural lands in Nigeria. Rubber and oil palm plantations generate export commodities. Forestry accounts for about 22.4 percent of the total land areas, hence forestry products rank next after agriculture.
The gmelina plantation in Akamkpa used to supply the Nigerian Newsprint Manufacturing Company at Oku lboku in Akwa lbom State. Plywood and other wood prod ucts are manufactured in Calabar using the rich tim ber from Cross River State forests.
A great variety of tropical woods are found in Cross River State including Brachystegia, Mitrogyna, Akwamini, Camwood, Iroko, Ebony, Mahogany, Rhizophora, Obeche, Opepe, Black Afara, et cetera. The Cross River National Park, comprising the former Oban Forest Reserve and the Boshi Okwangwo Forest Reserves, is the largest rain forest conservation in Nigeria.
It was initiated by the WorldWide Fund for Nature in collaboration with the Nigerian Conservation Foundation. The Oban sector contains the highest tropical biodiversity in Africa, with remarkable wildlife (Essien, 1990) including the rare redheaded rock fowl, the golden
Potto, red Colobus, the drill, needleclawed Galago, Bate's Pigmy Antelope, day Duiker, Ogilby's Duiker and the rare olive Ibis. In the BoshiOkwangwo sec tion is a high population of lowland gorillas and other endangered species including the drill and the chimpanzee.
The state also has great potential for marine fisheries and freshwater aquaculture. Because of the large rivers which drain areas with heavy rainfall where the rocks are deeply weathered, the rivers are nutrientladen with elements and dissolved salts, for diverse forms of aquatic life.
Indeed, these nutrients and vital elements support abundant shrimps, clams, periwinkle and fish in the lower courses of the rivers, and throughout the coastal swamps and shelf waters. In mining and quarrying, Cross River State has great potentials. But so far, industrial minerals have dominated this subsector.
Exploration for metallic minerals is greatly impeded by thick impenetrable forests, and deep weathering which greatly mantles the surface. But, by far the greatest natural asset in Cross River State is the availability of extensive and highly fertile soils which render the State the bread basket of southeastern Nigeria.
The sources of water supply in Cross River State are rainwater, groundwater, natural lakes, artificial reservoirs, ponds, small perennial streams, springs and rivers. Surface water supply is readily available but liable to guineaworm infestation in the northern parts of the state.
To this end, the guinea worm eradication programmes have achieved remarkable success. Groundwater resources vary depending on the location. On the coastal plain, in Akpabuyo, Calabar Municipality, and part of Odukpani LGA, there are excellent aquifers.
But on the Cross River Plain, boreholes often fail to sustain regular water supplies because of the clayey sub surface geology. On the basement complex, areas showing overburden thicknesses ranging from 20 to 60m, have meagre prospects of yielding ground water.
So, for a borehole on basement to be productive, drilling has to be made into fractured zones, down to a minimum depth of 40m below the regolith. Overall, the Cross River State Basin Development Authority has responsibility for water resources planning and environmental protection in the state.
Local Sourcing of Raw Materials: Cross River State has good prospects for a host of agri cultural and mineral raw materials; but agricultural raw materials top the list. Natural rubber, palm oil and kernel are already established plantation prod ucts, and the main raw material exports of the State.
Cocoa, soya beans, and food crops such as cassava, yam, rice, plantain, banana, and maize are produced in great abundance. Already, the State is considering the feasibility of the following projects utilising the locally available raw materials ,glucose (maize); egg powder (eggs); yam flour (yam); fruit juice (mango, orange, cashew, pineap pie); cocoa products (cocoa); and baking yeast (palm wine).
Industrial materials such as crushed rock, sand, gravel and limestone are already being produced from the state. Cross River State holds the purest (ninetyseven percent CaCo3) and largest reserve of limestone in the country. The Mfamosing lime stone deposit is quarried for the manufacture of cement by the Calabar Cement Company, and by the Cross River Limestones Ltd., for shipment to the Delta Steel rolling plant at Aladja, Warri, for use as a fluxing agent and for making hydrated lime.
Geologic exploration by the Geology Department of the University of Calabar uncovered an ilmenite deposit in Obudu. Ilmenite is a titaniumbearing ", mineral that is used in the manufacture of paint.
Other mineral deposits in Cross River State include 3 good quality kaolin, graphite, manganese, barytes, tin, marble, brines (up to 8.6 per cent NaCI) at Okpoma near Ogoja and in Yala LGA and brines with lower salt concentrations in Ikorn. Cross River brines offer the prospect for manufacturing chlorine and caustic soda.
They are the richest brines in the country, richer than the UburuOkposi brines in Abia State, the Abakaliki brines and those of the Keana Awe area in Nassarawa State. Besides, leadzinc mineralisation is associated with these brines wher ever they are found.
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