Ini Billie, Uyo
Some farmers in Akwa Ibom State have lamented poor farm yields and negative impacts on aquatic animals due to oil spills, especially in oil-producing communities.
Farmers in Okoro-Utip, Ibeno Local Government Area, Akwa Ibom State raised the alarm on Wednesday during a community dialogue with the Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF).
Speaking in Okoro-Utip while conducting HOMEF on inspection of some of the farms, the affected farmers said they have been experiencing poor yield as a result of contact with the oil on the crops.
They added that many of them collected loans from microfinance banks for farming but are today disappointed by the farm yield.
One of the farmers and Missionaries in the community, Pastor AbasiUbong John, explained that the cassava stems he planted over a year ago were yet to bear tubers while the stems have started decaying.
John revealed that all the vegetables he planted on his farm have turned yellow, adding that even the application of fertilizers has no positive impact on the crops.
“This cassava you see here, I planted it over one year ago and when you harvest, nothing will be inside of it. It will start decaying from the ground if you leave it to stay longer.
“The problem is that the oil that enters the farm will destroy the grass and whatsoever you plant even if you apply organic manure, it will not work not to talk of fertilizer. This oil drilling has affected the Ibeno people seriously. It has affected our soil such that you cannot see earthworms, millipedes and more which help in the soil aeration,” he stated.
Another farmer, Elizabeth Ifum said without the application of fertilizers, plants will never grow in the area, adding that the health of the people is being threatened due to the consumption of crops planted.
Earlier, Stephen Oduware, Project Lead, HOMEF described Ibeno as a hot spot for oil pollution and encouraged the people to stand up and demand what they should be given to.
He said the organisation would empower the farmers with knowledge through capacity building for 12 months on how to demand their rights and discuss the impact of oil and gas extraction on them vis-a-vis land grabbing and ways to restore the impacted environment.