The natural resources of the state include agrobased resources such as cocoa, cassava, palm trees, rice, fish, sugar cane, raffia palm, maize and poultry. The mineral based resources include limestone, kaolin and petroleum.
Agriculture, Forestry and other Basic Activities:
Given the nature of the environment, past employment and productivity, there is no doubt that agriculture holds the future prospects for development and employment in Akwa lbom State. At the moment, agriculture is the most important economic activity in the state and contributes a large percentage to the state's income that is second only to petroleum.
There are basically two types of agriculture in Akwa lbom. The first is the small-scale peasant farming usually practised on family basis, and which produces food crops such as cassava, maize, rice, yam and cocoyam for family consumption with the surplus sold in the local markets. The second type of farming is the estate farming which specialises in growing cash crops such as rubber, cocoa, rice and oil palm.
The major agricultural systems in Akwa lbom State consist of: (1) bush fallowing where land is cleared of the vegetation cover and cultivated for a period of one year and then allowed to remain fallow for another year; (2) the rudimentary system of sedentary cultivation in the densely population areas of Abak, Uyo, tkot Ekpene, Eket and Ikono LGAs. This type of cultivation is based on simple crop rotation and the use of manure on permanent and well-defined land holdings and compound areas; and (3) terrace agriculture which is practised in ltu because of its undulating topography. Afourth system is plantation agriculture which has been utilised for food production, notably, rice in northern Ikono by the Agricultural Development Programme (ADP). Plantation Agriculture is also involved in tree and cash crop cultivation as well as in the development of hybrid seedlings for distribution to farmers. The major location of this programme is at NIFOR at Abak.
The yields per hectare of most of the agricultural crops are low, due in part to poor manuring or the lack of fertiliser, poor soil conditions and low-grade seedlings. The sizes of farms are usually not more than one hectare per farming family. Problems confronting agricultural productivity in Akwa lbom State are many and complex. The hectarage farmed by each individual family is small because of the population pressure on the land and the fragmentary land tenure system. Labour also limits the hectarage of crop because it is expensive and ineffective. Farming implements in most parts are still rudimentary which require a lot of energy in their usage. Farm tool rental is not yet developed in the state. Lack of developed irrigation system means that cropping has to rely on the rhythm of the rains.
When rain fails, most crops wither and die. The short duration of the fallow period sometimes leads to the prevalence of pests and diseases in particular farming areas.
Akwa lbom State is rich in marine fisheries. The state has a shallow continental shelf of about 624 sq. km. which provides good spawning grounds. Fishes of economic value in the state waters include catfish, rays, barracuda and sole fish. The major marine fishing ports in Akwa lbom State are Oron, Eket, Ikot Abasi and ltu. Freshwater fishing is carried out extensively in tree-trunk dug-out canoes used by the traditional fishing communities in all the riverine parts of the state. They build wattle shades along the coast where they dry the fish before transporting them to the local markets. An agglomeration of these shades is called "Ine" (fishing villages), which can be seen along the banks of the Cross River, the Qua River and the Imo River, and the numerous creeks in the mangrove environments in the State. The fresh-water species include Tilapia and catfish.
Fish farming in Akwa lbom State is a recent development. A number of privately-owned fish farms have sprung up at Ibiono and Eket. The state government has always encouraged fish farming projects. Both marine and fresh-water fishing in Akwa I born State are confronted with problems which include the lack of adequate infrastructural facilities such as modem terminals, cold storage plants, and dry docking which are pre-requisites for modem industrial fishing. Inland fisheries also suffer from the lack of adequate equipment and fingerlings.
Domestication of animals is quite an old activity in Akwa lbom State. However, until recently, animal husbandry was not regarded as a full-time agricultural occupation hence it is currently being taken up with considerable attention in the state. Because the supply of Zebu cattle from northern Nigeria is not meeting local demand, efforts are being made to cross-breed the Muturu with the Zebu which is more tolerant of the endemic trypanosomiasis disease.
At Nkari in Ikono LGA, sheep are doing well in spite of the fact that they are free-range. Goats are raised in virtually every household in the rural areas. Expanded breeding and production of goats are taking place at such locations as Nkari in Ikono, Abak and Ukanafun, where free-range of goats already show considerable promise.
Pigs thrive well in the State but a major problem is that of management. Birds are kept under the extensive system in the state and this results in low productivity and poor growth rate. However, high producing breeds have been introduced under well organised intensive systems with chicken hatcheries and feed mills such as the Regimen Farm at Ikot Ekpene and the Royal Farm at Ibiono.
Commercial rabbitries have now started featuring in the development of animal husbandry in Akwa lbom. In view of the great demand for meat in the state, there is a need to introduce exotic breeds of animals; and also consider factors such as the carrying capacity and the grazing pressure on available land.
Forestry: Akwa lbom State supports a wide range of tropical vegetation that can guarantee forestry as a viable economic venture. However, the dense human population in the State has profoundly altered the natural vegetation. Extensive clearing of the land for farming and the exploitation of timber have virtually destroyed much of the original rain forest cover which is now restricted to a few isolated locations of forest reserves, "juju" shrines, and plantations. Other areas designed "protected forests" are so-called because they are protected against indiscriminate felling of trees and clearing. The government has also embarked on forest plantations in Eket, Ikono, Oron, Abak, ltu and Ikot Abasi. The need to increase the hectarage of plantations and forest reserves should be stressed. The need for timber is increasing daily because of the demand for housing construction and furniture.
Mineral and Petroleum Resources: Earth material-based economic potentials of the State include, gravel deposits, sands, clay and limestone.
Deeply weathered soil profiles overlie the coastal al plain sands in thick layers at Ibiono and ltu LGAs At present, clay and laterite are being quarried at Itam as raw materials for the state-owned ceramic industry. Long before the siting of the industry, the mottled zone of the lateritic material had been exploited by the indigenous communities for a flourishing traditional pottery industry in Ibiono and ltu.
The Ameke Formation which underlies areas north of Odot lkpe in Ini LGA, is known to contain limestones which occur as thick beds. The Obotme Limestone has already attracted considerable attention and several investigations have taken place with the purpose of determining its suitably for a viable cement industry. The belt of coastal deposits and estuarine mangrove sediments which occur along the coast of Akwa lbom contains some extensive marine water which can yield salt as raw material for chemical industries. Sea water occurs in various concentrations and is being processed into salt by the local people at Ibeno and at Okorotte.
Crude oil in the Niger Delta was first discovered at Ikot Akata in what is now Akwa lbom State during the early fifties following exploration for petroleum which began in Nigeria in 1937. Commercial discovery was, however, made at Olobiri in what is now Bayelsa State, with production beginning in 1958. In Akwa lbom, offshore production of crude oil, condensate and gas by Mobil Petroleum Nigeria Limited, now Exxon/Mobil, has rendered the state the largest petroleum producer in Nigeria. The Qua lboe Terminal (QIT) on the Akwa lbom coast is one of the largest production facilities in the Niger Delta.
Other oil-producing companies operating offshore in Akwa lbom State are Elf and Addax.
Industrial Development: The Aluminium Smelter Company of Nigeria (ALSCON) is a major heavy industry that is owned by the Federal Government; and is sited at Ikot Abasi on the western coast of Akwa lbom State. ALSCON began the production of aluminium in 1999 and is jointly owned by two foreign aluminium manufacturers: Ferrostal (German) and Reynolds (American) companies, the operators of the plant. Natural gas provides the cheap source of energy for aluminiumsmelting, while aluminium oxide is imported from Jamaica in the Caribbean. ALSCON has offered enormous employment opportunities to Nigerians.
It is a model for and a pointer to the direction in which the federal government should harness petroleum resources for industrialisation.
Tourism and Recreation: There are several ie attractions and sceneries for tourism and recreation nin the state. These include the rolling hills and incised valleys and ravines in ltu, Ini and Ikono Local Government Areas, ltu offers excellent hilly scenic beauty, in addition to the confluence of the Enyong Creek and the Cross River. Above the meander scar of the Enyong Creek is located Mary Slessor Hospital which also draws a lot of visitors to ltu as a town of colonial missionary interest and importance in the state. Also at Nwaniba, there is a golf course that offers tourist attraction.
Other tourist sites in the state include the Atlantic Ocean beaches with a 30 km surf shoreline with clean beach sand. Recently, Exxon/Mobil has improved the facilities along the beach for recreational purposes and visitors from Uyo and other towns inland can be seen at weekends strolling or merely standing at the water front seaward of the Quo lboe Terminal. Other special tourist attractions in the state include the Oron Museum with its famous collection of wooden masks; the first Qua lboe Church constructed by Rev. S. A. Bill at Ibeno in 1912; the giant tombstones of the colonial period at Essien Udim; and the raffia crafts and masquerades at the Raffia-Co-operative Stores at Ikot Ekpene. The State Government has made attempts to develop tourism by building modern hotels with catering facilities.
Potentials for Industrial Development:
The potentials for large-scale industrialisation in the state include the following:
1. Chemical industries based on exploitation of gas in Eket areas, and brine at Ikot Abasi Atabrikang, Obodom, Okoroate, Nko and others placed along the lagoonfringed coastal strip between Eket And Ikot Abasi;
2. Cement industry based on the limestone at Obotme in Ini LGA;
3. Ceramic and brick industry based on clay (kaolin) at Itam in ltu LGA;
4. Industries based on palm oil and kernel oil for the manufacture of soap, margarine, candle and pomade;
5. Industries based on the raffia palm which include the production of the local gin and crafts such as handbags, ornamental dresses, table mats, shoes and belts;
6. Rubber-based industries tyres, rubber vehicle parts and rubber soles;
7. Glass-based industries for the production of sanitary wares, glass sheets and bottles for both domestic use and for export;
8. Canning industries for fruits;
9. Fishery-based industries for the production of canned, smoked and chilled fish, shrimps, lobsters and shellfish;
10. Fish-oil extraction and feed production from both marine and riverine fishing in the state; and
11. Industries based on cocoa beans such as food drinks, cocoa butter and wine.
Possibilities also exist for the establishment of other industries based on combinations of two or more resources. Such industries include pharmaceutical industries which could obtain raw materials from petro-chemicals or purely chemical industries and also from palm oil, cassava, rice, and fish. Similarly, feed/fodder industries could be established to make use of agricultural and fishery products.
Local Sourcing of Raw Materials: The natural resource potentials of the state noted above yield a wide variety of agricultural and industrial mineral products from which raw materials can be sourced locally. For example, the oil palm serves as the source of raw materials for palm oil and palm kernel oil. In addition, the extensive forest plantations in nearby Cross River State provide a source of raw materials for the establishment of paper mill the Oku lboku Paper Mill industry as well as other smaller paper mills established in the state.