NATURAL RESOURCES AND POTENTIALS FOR DEVELOPMENTPost Comment NATURAL RESOURCES AND POTENTIALS FOR DEVELOPMENT Nigeria
Nature has endowed Ondo State with a lot of resources. Most of these resources have been profitably tapped, while others need be developed.
Agriculture, Forestry and Other Basic Activities: Agriculture is the dominant occupation of the people of Ondo State providing income and employment opportunities for over seventy percent of the population. It also contributes well over sev entyfive per cent to the state's Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
The main revenueyielding crops are cocoa, palm produce and timber. In fact, Ondo region is now the core of the Nigerian cocoa belt accounting for well over sixty per cent of Nigeria's annual output. In order to make cocoa contribute more to the economic viability of the state, a Cocoa Products Company Ltd. has been established in lle Oluji. Indeed, in 1988, as a result of the economic policies of the Babangida administration, cocoa farmers and traders had a field day in cocoa busi ness as they became very rich because cocoa prices were subject to market forces.
This "SAP Cocoa Boom" raised the incomes, the living stan dard and status of most inhabitants of Ondo State to an unprecedented level. The boom caused many abandoned old cocoa farms to be resuscitat ed thereby increasing the production level. Unfortunately, the boom was shortlived as predict ed by money market watchers, economists and agricultural experts.
The latter notwithstanding, cocoa is still the main economic crop of Ondo State on which both the people and government depend. Next to cocoa is palm produce. The state has very large oil palm plantations at Okitipupa, Ode Irele and AraromiObu. Other tree crops include kola, rubber, coffee, oilpalm and exotics.
The government has been involved in the establishment of extensive planta tions in respect of oil palm, rubber and exotics especially Tectona grandis and Gmelina arborea. Arable crops are cultivated mostly in the north ern part of the state. These crops include rice, cas sava, maize, yam, pepper, beans, tomatoes and a host of other vegetables. The activities of the Ondo state Agricultural Development Project and the Benin/Owena River Basin and Rural Development Authority, in enhancino arable crooDina in the state.are commendable.
Ondo State is one of the most important timber producing states in Nigeria. Some of the hardwood species are Iroko, mahogany, Obeche and sapele wood. Timber has encouraged the establishment of sawmilling industries which litter every nook and comer of the state. NigeriaRomania Wood Industry (NIROWI) located in Ondo is the largest wood industry.
Mineral Resources: Ondo State has become a member of the Nigerian oilproducing states as petroleum is now extracted offshore (Ministry of Information & Culture, 1989). Other minerals avail able include tar sand (bitumen), especially in Okitipupa and Irele LGAs; kaolin clay in lle01uji Okelgbo, Ondo and Odigbo LGAs; iron ore in lfedore, Akure, Idanre, Odigbo and Akoko North East, Akoko North West, Akoko South East and Akoko South West LGAs; granite in Idanre and lle Oluji/Okelgbo LGAs; and quartz sands at llaje, Okitipupa and Ese Odo LGAs. Furthermore, there are other minerals, such as coal, columbite, tin and marble, many of which are at different stages of prospecting, extracting and development. Ondo state has a coast with great potentials for fishing industry.
In fact, the creeks and coastlands of the state are now recognised for their richness in prawns and lobsters. In fact, it has just been dis covered that Ondo has reserve for stock fish. This resource calls for better development. The inland river systems and lakes also offer development potentialities, even though, they have been har nessed for domestic and agricultural purposes.
Industrial Potentialities: Industrialisation is rapidly taking place in the state. At present, the major industrial ventures include the Okitipupa Oil Palm Mill Pie at Okitipupa, NIROWI at Ondo, Cocoa Products Company Ltd. at lleOluji and Oluwa znGlass Company Pie at lgbokoda. Others include the Nigerianltalian Ceramics Factory at lfon, Alpha Paper Industries at ArigidiAkoko, Ondo State Asphalt Company at Aponmu, AraromiAyesan Oil Palm Pie at AraromiObu and Foam Industry at Akure, to mention but a few.
A survey has shown that the number of private establishments employ ing more than five people and above is on the increase. While in 1980, the number of the latter was about 960, by 1992, the number was more than 2,830, with Akure having over 950. By September 1999, it is estimated to have grown to over 3,500, with Akure having over 2,000.
Local Sourcing of Raw Materials: Many small and largescale industrial concerns now depend almost entirely on local raw materials.
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