NATURAL RESOURCES AND POTENTIAL FOR DEVELOPMENTPost Comment NATURAL RESOURCES AND POTENTIAL FOR DEVELOPMENT Nigeria
Agriculture, Forestry and other Basic Activities: Like the neighbouring Benue State, agricul ture is the main economic activity in Nassarawa State. All the major crops are produced in every local government area particularly yam and rice. However, the lowland areas such as Lafia, Doma, Awe, Keana and Obi Local Government Areas gen erally play a leading role in the production of these crops.
The major crops include maize, rice, sorghum, millet, cowpea, groundnut, yam, cassava, soyabeans, beniseed, melon, bambara nuts (see Appendices III a & b). The higherland local government areas such as Wamba, Akwanga and Nassarawa Eggon for exam ple experience the climatic and other environmental conditions suitable for the growth of several tree crops such as oil palm tree, cocoa, cola nut, coffee and other citrus plants. Concerted efforts are now distributing oil palm, coffee and cocoa seedlings (sprouts) to farmers in this area, as a way of encouraging the production of these crops in the state.
Oil palm, in particular, is fast gaining accept il ability all over the state. The State Ministry of Agriculture has instituted , several programmes aimed at improving crop yield in the state. For instance, the State Farm if Mechanisation Agency (FAMA) has been estab , lished and equipped with about thirtyeight function tractors and 103 unused ones, ninety Napsack (twenty litre) sprayers, twentysix rice haulers (yet to be installed) and about five flour mills.
These machinery are intended to assist farmers improve a production at subsidised rates. One of the most i targeted areas is the Fadama dry season agriculture which is expected to augment the rainfed agriculture and vegetable gardening. Apart from FAMA, the Nassarawa Agricultural Development fi Programme (NADP), in conjunction with the Federal Government and the World Bank, has embarked on programmes for the accelerated development of industrial crops such as soya beans, beniseed and rice.
Although NADP, at the I, moment, has problems of funding, capacity building 3 and lack of genuine spare parts, the state government's determination together with the Federal assistance currently being given to it, are doing much to improve its performance.
There are not too many forests in the state, apart from the gallery forests along river courses and the forest reserves. Because of the fast threat d ening problem of desertification, it will not be advisable to encourage investment in logging except perhaps where forests had been deliberately planted for the purpose. Much of the land in the state is fertile and has a relatively low population density.
The large expanse of arable land implies large land holdings by individuals and the possibility that agriculture could be mechanised for higher productivity. There is a high probability that if farmers are encouraged to procure fertilizers, agrochemicals and tractors, the total yield per hectare will be greatly improved. a Other natural resources with a high potential for y development include water, vegetation, various . minerals, sunlight.
Water Resources: The State's Water e Resources include numerous rivers and streams. These can be used for HEP generation fishing, industrial and domestic purposes and for irrigation. The banks of the River Benue at the southern part of the state for example, provide a great potential s for dry season agriculture. There is also the Awuna i fish farm which could be improved upon for higher yield.
Mineral Resources: Nassarawa State has v many mineral resources (Table 25.4). These n include: barytes, barytes, sharp sand, tin, marble,salt, coal, semiprecious stones and aqua marine. Also, the state has a lot of untapped energy resources. These include solar energy, which is invaluable to the growth and ripening of staple crops, drying of clothes and food.
Other uses of solar energy could include harnessing and develop ing to produce solar heaters, coolers and the gen eration of electricity. Another source of energy in the state is wind which has been neglected due to lack of appropriate technology. The fast flowing rivers coming down from the Jos Plateau could also be harnessed to provide hydroelectricity.
The coal found at Obi in the state could also be used for the generation of electricity, cooking and other industri al purposes. Some of the minerals in the state are currently being mined illegally. However, the state govern ment has instituted a minerals inventory project to provide a comprehensive data base on the quantity and quality of mineral deposits in the state.
Existing Industries: At the moment, the state very much lacks the presence of large industrial establishments. Thriving small scale cottage indus tries based on some of these crops include locally brewed beer (burukutu), gari, etubo (cassava flour), rice milling, bricks and ceramics. Apart from these, the only other industry is the Delta Processing in Lafia which processes baryte basically. There is also a poultry production farm in Lafia and a tradi tional pottery centre in Keffi.
Local Sourcing of Raw Materials: To further boost the sourcing and development of mineral resources, the government has approved the establishment of Nassarawa Mineral Development Company and Raw Materials Research and Development Council.
In addition, the Nassarawa Investment and Mineral Company (NIMCO) has also been established to enable prospective investors obtain the necessary information for investment and to be able to coordinate and facili tate state economic ventures. The state also produces many agricultural products that could form local raw materials for agrobased industries. To this end, the state government has established the Nassarawa Agricultural Development Programme (NADP), whose aim is to give the necessary support to farm ers for increased productivity and also to agro based industrialists.
Many miningrelated and agro based industries including Makeri Smelting Company and NASCO, both in Plateau State, and other small scale rice millers have taken the advan tage of utilising these abundant raw materials in the state.
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