POPULATION PRESSURE AND AGRICULTURAL LAND PRODUCTIVITY A CASE STUDY OF TAI LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREA, RIVERS STATE

POPULATION PRESSURE AND AGRICULTURAL LAND PRODUCTIVITY A CASE STUDY OF TAI LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREA, RIVERS STATE

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                                                     CHAPTER ONE

                                                    INTRODUCTION

BACKGROUND OF STUDY

In recent times, one of the major issues in the world especially in third world countries has been the alarming rate of poverty, lack of proper education and food scarcity. In Nigeria, this has been a huge problem due to increased population with fewer resources. Therefore, the need to provide adequate food for the entire population becomes a huge concern to the entire populace. This grim condition was put forward early in the history of economics by Robert Thomas Malthus(Limits to growth,1766 - 1834) that population growth will always continue to be a problem due to the natural human reproductive urge which increases geometrically (1, 2, 4, 16, 32, 64, 128, 256, etc.) in relation to food supply which only increases arithmetically (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, etc.) and thus could have a resultant starvation effect if left unchecked.

In recent times, this theory has been said to be criticized by other economists with many factors which Malthus did not consider when putting forward this theory (Gazu lakhotia, 2011). This has been a subject of keen controversy as he was regarded as a pessimistic economist by others. These criticisms are based on his inability to relate his theories to the history of western countries as population has failed to grow as rapidly as he predicted in these areas and production as well has increased due to technology advancements. As a result of this, living standard of the people has increased tremendously instead of falling as he predicted in his theory (Gazu lakhotia, 2011, revised edition 2012)

Secondly, (Ester Boserup, 1965) accused Malthus of basing his theory on the law of diminishing returns which is applied to agricultural production. But for the fact that he asserted that food production would not match with the high population, this has been falsified due to the increase in advanced technology and high capital investments in developed countries , Thus, Boserup proposes a "dynamic" relationship between arable and fallow land that changes in response to population density (Boserup 1965, page13,15& 20).

In contrast to the Malthusian idea of 'invention-pull' population growth, Boserup (1965) rather put forward an 'invention-push' agricultural change which makes it possible to substitute technological input like the use of fertilizers in agricultural production, better seeds for production of quality foods and the use of agricultural machineries to increase food production.

Thirdly, the Malthusian theory of population compared population growth with the increase in food production alone and as a result gave no proof of his assertion that population increased exactly in geometric progression. He taught that land was available in fixed quantity and therefore food production cannot increase more than population. He failed to put into proper account the different types of agricultural production and compare them with the increase in the total wealth of a country. This on the other hand does not show that population and food supply changes with these mathematical series. Scientists did not base their support for the populace just on food production from available lands, rather they industrialize themselves by nurturing other natural resources and accumulating man-made capital equipment (e.g. airplanes, factories, cars, tools, railways etc.) which they would use in other forms of production and in exchange for food from other countries through export trades. (Gazu lakhotia, 2011)

Similarly, The Malthusian theory of population may apply to the developing world such as Africa and the Asian countries. For instance, India and China are at present in that unenviable position which Malthus feared. Grinding poverty, disease outbreak, famine, communal wars and discrimination, insufficient food supply and low standard of living. But for the fact that technology increased has helped in solving these problems especially in the area of food insecurity, these notwithstanding has been falsified by other scientists as Malthus based his theories only on the present life conditions as that time.

As the society develops in size and quantity, the demands on resources increases in both intensity and density (Population & Environment 1994, Revise edition A.A Bartlett, 1997).

In these parts of the word, society goes through a rapid development to the extent where there are concerns regarding finiteness, (total usage) of resources. In many areas, population pressure is causing sub-division of fertile lands into smaller plots thereby intensifying land use as well as facilitating rural-urban migration. Similarly, marginal lands in some areas are also brought into production. One of the most socio-economic factors in soil and water conservation is undoubtedly the issue of land tenure. Great strides have been made since 1960s in adjusting land in many of the higher potential areas in Africa. In the drier areas, most of the land is still communally owned (Oyebola, 1970). Over the past years, a purely pastoral economy has a degree of dynamic equilibrium between the people, the livestock and the land etc., the fact that all land was common, it caused no essentials for stewardship. But with rising human and livestock numbers, coupled with a decline in grazing areas due to other forms of land use, the previous dynamic equilibrium has been

tremendously destroyed and land degradation has become endemic in many areas. In Nigeria today, Natural and anthropogenic causative factors such as erosion and landslide, pollution from oil spill and other greenhouse gases over land and desert encroachment has led to the destruction and loss of several hectares of arable farmland( UNCSD,1997).

Annually, Anambra, Abia, Ondo, and Imo states encounter a massive loss of arable farmland caused by erosion as a result of heavy precipitation. In lined with this, prolonged drought and the pressure of animals grazing on the land is on its daily increase in the northern deserts while in the Niger delta region, oil spill and severe land degradation daily pollutes and renders hectares of arable farmlands infertile and this contributes immensely to about 80% of loss of biological diversity. (UNU, 1996)

The rise in population has resulted to marginal rainfall areas being vulnerable to drought and more bared lands as a result of the decline in vegetative cover resulting from the intensive anthropogenic activities by humans, higher rates of animal grazing , deforestation for building and fuel needs, thereby exposing the soil to the ravages of wind and water erosion (UNFCCC, 2011)

Similarly, the demand for gathering of firewood has shifted on the increase as a result of high demand for fuel especially in the rural communities. As this is said to be a time consuming occupation, it has really affected the farmers input to crop production and thus has led to reduced agricultural practice (IEA.ORG)

Population growth in developing countries has caused a shift of population from rural to urban. Some communities or even individuals have been forced to move out of a particular area of land due to limited job opportunities being provided for them and leasing or even selling off their available land to fast growing/mechanized farmers thereby leading to the shortage of land available for a growing number of low income farmers.

Arable farmland is lost annually because of population increases; rural-urban migration also increases to areas of paid labor by high income farmers. The expansion of these urban areas leads to the conversion of so many hectares of arable farmland for urban projects like the construction of houses , schools , roads , parks for recreational activities as well as new towns when necessary (UNCSD, 1997)

The high rate of population growth in Nigeria has resulted in the unsustainable use of natural resources which is the basic foundation for livelihood without having concern for

the future. This has led to tremendous effects on our natural ecosystem. The provisioning, regulatory, cultural and supporting services which are derived from the ecosystem are put at a high risk due to the harsh use of these natural resources (UN.ORG)

Over the years, there have been several symptoms of ecological stress like the deteriorating nature of the grass land areas, very low crop yield, soil erosion which has forced so many migration activities to the cities and low standard of living by the poor. All these effects can produce long-term, possibly permanent damage to the environment which in turn would have a huge negative effect on agricultural production.

Most of these problems are closely related to a simple factor of human population which has exceeded the carrying capacity of the land. In the light of the above problems, I would say that this thesis has been set out to identify and articulate population and production consequences within agriculture with Tai local government area as a reference point.

1.2                    STATEMENT OF PROBLEM

Food and indeed agriculture is very indispensable to human development. Man`s endeavor has always centered on the quest to provide for himself with the basic needs of life such as food, clothing and shelter. It is evident that the population of Nigeria grows very fast. For instance in the national census in 1963, the population of Tai was 87,800 whereas as in 1991, it has increased to 174,600 which is about 98.9% increase within 28years (OBLGA Gazetteer, 2001). For instance in 1963 National census, a total figure of

55.6million was recorded officially though it was said to have been encumbered with charges of inaccuracy and manipulation for regional and local political purposes. Nonetheless, the official 1963 figure of 55.6 million as total national population is inconsistent with the census of a decade earlier because it implies a virtually impossible annual growth rate of 5.8 percent. In addition to likely inflation of the aggregate figure, significant intraregional anomalies emerge from a close comparison of the 1953 and 1963 figures. For instance, in portions of the southeast, the two sets of data show that some non-urban local government areas had increased at a rate of almost 13 percent per year, while other neighboring areas experienced a drastic growth rate of 0.5 percent per year. Despite the controversy, the results of the 1963 census were eventually accepted. (U.S. Library of Congress)

Inevitably, rise in population leads to higher demand for food production. This is one of the major problems facing Nigeria today for its growing population. In Tai local government , there is a belief that as there are more hands involved in agriculture , it gives rise to more food production and thus leads to good livelihood for families. This as a result has contributed immensely to the increase in polygamous marriages and more children and thereby has led to an increasing population. In spite of the government`s efforts , farmers are toiling and are still unable to produce enough food for the population due to scarcity of land, mostly through land fragmentation, rural-urban migration , deforestation and so many other environmental vices. However, food production in Tai has not yet kept pace with the alarming population increase as a small proportion of the people are engaged in agriculture (Udoala Eastern Ngwa multipurpose and co-operative society, 2012)

1.3                      AIM AND OBJECTIVES

The main purpose of this study is to investigate and identify the consequences of population growth on agricultural production. The study introduces the following question to help in conducting the research;

1.To what extent have population growth affected agricultural practice in Nonwa tai, Rivers state?

2.To what extent have land pattern systems matched with population growth in Nonwa tai, Rivers state?

3.To what extent has rural-urban migration affected agricultural production?

1.4                          AREA OF STUDY

Rivers State, also known simply as Rivers, is one of the 36 states of Nigeria. According to census data released in 2006, the state has a population of 5,198,716, making it the sixth-most populous state in the country.Its capital and largest city, Port Harcourt, is economically significant as the centre of Nigeria's oil industry. Rivers State is bounded on the South by the Atlantic Ocean, to the North by Imo, Abia and Anambra States, to the East by Akwa Ibom State, and to the West by Bayelsa and Delta states. It is home to many indigenous ethnic groups: IkwerreIbani, Opobo, Eleme, Okrika, and Kalabari, Etche, Ogba, Ogoni, Engenni, Egbema, Oboloand others. The people from Rivers State are known as "Riverians

Tai is a Local Government Area (LGA) of Rivers State in Nigeria. It covers an area of 159 km2 and at the 2006 Census it had a population of 117,797. It is part of the Okrika/Oyigbo/Tai/Eleme constituency of the Nigerian Senate, represented since April 2007 by George Thompson Sekibo.In the April 2007 elections the Tai LGA recorded an implausible 99.6% turnout for the Governorship election.Celestine Omehia of the Rivers State People's Democratic Party was at first declared winner, but his election was later annulled and Rotimi Amaechi, also of the PDP, was declared governor.[3] In February 2009, the Chairman of Tai Local Government Area was Barry Mpigi.

Most of the people are Ogoni, speaking the Tee and Baan languages.Communities include Ban-Ogoi, Bara-Ale, Bara-Alue, Barayira, Borobara (a central community), Botem, Bunu, Deeyor Kira, Gbam, Gbene-Ue, Horo, Kebara Kira, Korokoro (the seat of the Tai monarch), Koroma, Kpite, Nonwa Tai (Kebara), Nonwa Uedume, Orkpo, Sime and Ueken.[6] Other communities include Kporghor and Gio.

Tai Local government area has two broad sections: the Tua Tua Kingdom and the Barasi Nonwa Kingdom, both under the overall Tai kingdom headed by the Gbene Mene Tai. The primary occupations are farming, and fishing to a lesser degree.In September 2009, Samuel Nnee was the paramount ruler of the Kpite Community in Tai LGA.

1.5                      MAP OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA

36 states of the federation and the neighboring countries

Picture 1                                                                                                                                                           Picture 2

Source: FAO, 2005; Central Intelligent Agency, World Fact Book.

1.6                    SIGNIFICANCE/JUSTIFICATION OF THE STUDY

This study may or may not be able to help the government and all other concerned authorities to review and improve the different ways of land management systems in the state and at the local government level, but will point out some related or closely related issues in food production in relation to population increase. By so doing, helps to device means through further research studies to provide solutions to the problem of land availability to farmers which may perhaps lead to more available farm land and hence boost food production.

In view of the above, the general public could benefit through the availability of more information now and in the future and which will also serve as baseline knowledge for subsequent scholars on a similar or related topic.


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