Agriculture

Author: nick on 12-09-2013, 18:00, views: 2 537

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Plantain farm with fruit and blossomPlantain farm with fruit and blossomPlantain farm with fruit and blossomPlantain farm with fruit and blossom

Farming is the main occupation of most of the people. Apart from the Obolo people, who occupy scattered fishing posts along the coastal area, and who are traditionally fishermen, all the upland Ibibio people are engaged in farming as a means of livelihood.

 

Most of the farming is carried out in the Acid Sands of the upland area, are low-fertile. The crops grown are those that can thrive in acid soils. The important crops grown are as siven below:

 

Arable Crops
Cassava (iwa) Manihot utilissima
Yam (bia/udia) Dioscorea spp.
Cocoyam (ikpong) Colocasia esculanta and xanthosema mafaffa
Sweet Yam (enem) Dioscorea dumetorum
Maize (abakpa/ibokpot) Zea mays
Melon (ikon) Colocynthis vulgavis
   
Horticultural Crops
Plantain (ukom) Musa sapientum
Banana (mbooro/etre) Musa paradisiaca
Oranges (osokoro) Citrus sinensis
Pawpaw (akpot) Carica papaya
Mango (uyo mbakara) Mangifera indica
Pineapple (eyop mbakara/nnening) Anana sativus
'Pepper fruit' (nkarika) Dennettia tripetala
African Pears (eben) Davroydes edulis
   
Cash Crops
Oil palm (eyop) Elaeis guineensis
Coconut palm (isip eyop) Cocos nucifera
Raffia palm (ukot eyop) Rafia hookeri
Rubber(okpo) Hevea brasiliensis
Kola nut (ibong) Cola acuminata and C. nitida
   
Vegetables
(a) Fluted pumpkin (nkong uboong) Telfairea occidentalis
(b) afang Gnetum africanum
(c) ataama Heinsia crinata
(d) editan Lasianthera africana
(e) etidot
Vernonia amygdalina
(f) Water leaf (mmong mmong ikong) Talinum triangulare
(g) Okra (atikke) Hibiscus esculentus
(h) Pepper (ntuen) Capsicum annum and C. frutescens

 

Arable Crops

 

Among the crops grown, cassava is the most valuable, because from it are derived garri andfoofoo, the main food items in the area.

 

Garri did not become a staple food in Ikot Abasi area until after the wars, when it was introduced as such by soldiers demobilised from the Far East. According to FAO report
(1991), Nigeria now leads in world cassava production. In 1989 alone, there was a 75% increase in the production of cassava in the country, compared to 1988.

 

Yam is another important root crop. Its production has greatly gone down and, it appears, most of the yams consumed in the local government area come from other states of the federation. The men used to grow yams, while the women cultivated cassava. It is obvious now, that the men are no longer interested in farming, and the entire farming activities are left for the women, who now grow cassava to the exclusion of yams.

 

Cocoyam, also grown by women, is of lesser importance. One variety ikpong ekpo, which has a very high economic value, is no longer grown, may be, due to the lack of freshly cleared forest, where this crop is usually grown. Maize is popular in the area and is, generally, the first crop to be cultivated, when the land is freshly cleared. Generally, maize does poorly in the area, because of poor acidic soil and the unfavourable climatic conditions in the ecological zone. Melon is also grown at the same time with maize, but its cultivation is not as popular as that of maize.

 

Horticultural Crops

 

All the horticultural crops are not consciously grown for commercial interest. Despite their high economic value, they are still grown as backyard or compound crops. Plantain and banana are generally grown by women, usually in the area of the household refuse dump. This refuse supplies important nutrients that make the plants grow luxuriantly in what would be regarded as poor soils for such crops. Pawpaw and pineapple used to grow wild, but are now grown deliberately, though not yet on commercial scale. Mango was originally popular in the coastal fishing settlements, but is now grown as a compound crop in the upland areas. Pepper fruit and African pear are usually grown in the backyards by men.

 

Vegetables

 

Leafy vegetables are very important to the people as primary ingredients for the soups, prepared for garri, foo-foo and even pounded yam (except afia efere). Among these vegetables, only the fluted pumpkin is cultivated in the farms, and is one of the first crops to be raised along with maize, when the land is cleared. Other vegetables are compound or backyard crops. Although afang may compete strongly with fluted pumpkin as the most popular leafy vegetable, it was not grown as a compound or backyard crop before, but used to be gathered in the forest, since it is a wild climber. However, as a result of rapid destruction of the forest for farming and other development, coupled with the increasing demand for the crop, the women have started raising it as a compound or backyard crop. Water leaf used to grow wild near refuse dumps in the compounds, but the suddenly increased modern demand for it has resulted in relatively large cultivation of the crop. There are now a good number of women, who make reasonable income from its production. The high demand for water leaf is due to the recent practice to cook it with every other leafy vegetable, to 'tame' the other leaves and make excellent dishes.

 

Pepper is grown in farms and, also, near houses, in small gardens plots, since a lot of pepper is added in every cooked meal. Okra is quite a popular crop and is grown in the women's gardens at the beginning of dry season.

 

Cash Crops

 

Although oil palm is the most important cash crop in the area, it has not been widely cultivated by the people. Most of what is harvested is wild. Generally, the wild palms are owned by the community as a whole, and do not belong to individuals. Although the palm tree may stand on somebody's farm, the man owns only the land, but not the tree on it. Harvesting is done on a pre-announced date, for a period of about two or three days, but not more than a week. During such a period, people are free to harvest the fruit anywhere, within the domain of the community, but harvesting cannot go beyond the date set. Palm fruit processing is very popular and trading in palm produce made the area well known during the colonial days. In recent times, individuals have started cultivating small plots of improved varieties of oil palm. Such plantations are exempted from the general harvesting. There is, however, no single large commercial plantation in the LGA, although the area is suitable for oil palm production.

 

Coconut palm, which also does well in the area, is cultivated as a compound crop, usually by a father who plants a tree for each of his sons. The crop does particularly well in the coastal areas, where large plantations could be developed. Rubber is not popular in the area, despite its economic importance and the soil suitability for its cultivation. Small pockets of plantations are found near the coast, particularly around Okoroete and Iko. Kolanut is not widely grown in the area. A few people grow it as a compound or backyard crop.

 

Raffia palm is very popular and is widely cultivated in the wetland areas. It is next to oil palm in importance, because of the popular wine and the piassava derived from it. Piassava has many uses in local construction work and was a strong foreign exchange earner during the colonial days.

 

Palm Products and Their Use
We live by our palm (Ibibio saying)
   
Product Usage
1. From the trunk (ekpad):
timber for houses, road stockades and entrances
rotting logs
source of the white bait (odudukudu) delicacy
Nnyang (stem fibre)
for ropes and cordage
2. From the sap:
palmwine and local gin, ufofop ukod
3. From the ribs:
broomsticks for broom, ayang
4. From the midrib: okok, ubak or bamboo

for fences and storage racks, ladders, frames,
weaving looms, compound
and fishing groundfences, stakes for yam plants
fuel for firing pottery

5. From the leaves:

ties for roof and fence framework

idid, piassava (leaf-sheath fibre)
for making fish traps, baskets, rattles,
bags, hats, etc.
production of climbing ropes, cordage
for training yam vines, etc.
in the production of gun powder
Ndam, raffia (leaf fibre)
for weaving ritual cloth, costumes, hats, bags.
baskets, fans, etc.
for decorating masks and head-dresses
for making masquerade costumes
and coverings, ceiling mats, ikpaya
iya, eyei, (leaves)
for roofing mats (nkanya), umbrella/hats,
(iboto), masquerade costumes
as a means of public notice and injunction
ekpi (leaf blade)
for tying food parcels, roofing mats, etc.
6. From the leaf web:
webbing for special underwear, bandages, etc.
7. From the fruit:
 
aran (palm oil)
for food, lighting oil, lubricants
ikpok (fibre)
for fuel
isip (palm kernel)

oil, mmanyanga, for margarine, medicine,
cosmetics
shells for fuelwood and
for cattle feed

(Jeffreys, 1957; Nicklin. 1973b.)
   

 

Production of Palm Oil and Kernel

   
 Ripe fruit bunches Ripe fruit bunches are cut down from trees by men with the help of climbing ropes and machetes. Fruits are then gathered by women and children and carried by head portage for processing.
 Fruits are pounded in a wooden mortar to loosen the fleshy pulp from the nuts Fruits are pounded in a wooden mortar to loosen the fleshy pulp from the nuts.
 The pulp is boiled in large pots with some water. The pulp is boiled in large pots with some water.
 The oil is drained and pressed out from the fibre with strainers or hand presses. The oil is drained and pressed out from the fibre with strainers or hand presses.
 The oil is stored in pots, tins and drums and transported to the market or collection points. There it is purified by re-boiling and straining and stored in drums/tanks. The oil is stored in pots, tins and drums and transported to the market or collection points. There it is purified by re-boiling and straining and stored in drums/tanks.
 The nuts are dried, cracked and cleaned; the kernel is packed in bags. The nuts are dried, cracked and cleaned; the kernel is packed in bags.

 

Rubber tree plantation behind a cassava plotRubber tree plantation behind a cassava plotCoconut palm with fruitsCoconut palm with fruits

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Category: Physical Features and Natural Resources

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