Effects Of Land Degradation On Agricultural Activities In Ethiope East Local Government Area Of Delta State, Nigeria

Project and Seminar Material for Agricultural Economics and Extension

Effects Of Land Degradation On Agricultural Activities In Ethiope East Local Government Area Of Delta State, Nigeria


The study was undertaken to examine the effect of  land degradation on agricultural activities in Ethiope East Local Government Area of Delta state. A multi-stage random sampling technique was used to select six communities mostly affected by land degradation and a total of sixty respondents (farmers) was use for the study.  A structured interview schedule was used in collecting data from the respondents. Frequency counts, percentages, charts and mean statistics were used to analyze objectives 1, 2, 3, and 4. The result of the study revealed that greater percent of respondents were females, married and educated with an average age of 53.7 years. The average farming experience of the respondents was 18.9 years, family size of 7 and farm size of 1.2 hectares. The major perceived cause of land degradation in the area includes pollution, fire outbreak, unstable agricultural practices, oil spillage and oil exploration. The major perceived effects of land degradation include decrease in farmland available for cultivation, reduction in farm yield (output), reduction in farmer’s income and loss of nutrients/organic matter. Based on the major findings, of the study it was recommended that awareness campaign on the proper use of agricultural land should be mounted at all levels and government should prevail on oil companies to pay compensation for farm lands lost due to oil spillage and exploration. Additionally, mopping up of oil spills should be enforced so as to punish the indiscriminate use of land, like bush burning, deforestation and so on.

Chapter One


1.1 Background Information

Land is the basic natural resource that provides habitat and sustenance for living organisms, as well as being a major focus of economic activities. (UNEP 2006). Africa is endowed with enough land to undertake small and large-scale activities to strengthen household security, national development, transboundary cooperation and regional integration to transform trade, and create new opportunities for sustainable development which is sensitive to the environment and social economic issues (Bangladesh, 2001). There are however, many threats and challenges which continue to undermine such progress limiting its potential. These include pandemics such as HIV/AIDS, climate variability and change, extreme weather events such as drought and floods, ineffective land-use planning, land degradation and desertification, invasive alien species, limited or weak governance systems, corruption and greed, armed conflict and the attendant overexploitation of natural resources, limited foreign direct investment, Limited domestic investment and wasted opportunities, loss of revenue due to leakage in sectors such as tourism are also important factors (Mryka, 2008).

Degradation of land refers to loss of its potential production capability as a result of degradation of soil quality and also its loss for effective use.

According to Global Environment Facility (GEF 2003), Land degradation is defined as any form of deterioration of the natural potential of land that affects ecosystem integrity either in terms of reducing its sustainable ecological productivity or in terms of its active biological richness and maintenance of resilience. It is the loss of utility of land or the decline in soil quality caused through misuse by human (Barrow, 1992).

Furthermore, UNCCD defines land degradation as a reduction or loss in arid semi-arid and dry sub-humid areas of the biological or economic productivity and complexity of rain-fed cropland, irrigated cropland, range land pasture, forest, and woodlands resulting from land uses or from a process or combination of processes, including processes arising from human activities and habitation patterns such as:

  1. Soil erosion caused by wind and/or water,
  2.  Deterioration of the physical, chemical, and biological or economic properties of soil; and
  3.  Long-term loss of natural vegetation.

Land degradation is one of the worst environmental problems facing many people worldwide. According to UNCCD (2009), over 250 million people are directly affected by land degradation. It is a worldwide phenomenon substantially affecting productivity in over 80 countries or all continents, except Antarctica. Land degradation is especially serious in Africa where 36 countries face dryland degradation or desertification, land degradation adversely affects the ecological integrity and productivity of about 2 billon hectares or 23% of landscapes under human use. Agricultural lands in both dryland and forest areas have been most severely affected by land degradation. They cover about one-fourth of the world’s total land area and account for 95% of all animal and plant protein and 99% of calories consumed by human, about two-thirds of agricultural land has been degraded to some extent during the last 50 years (GEF, 2003).

In addition, one billion people in over 100 countries are at risk, these people include many of the world’s poorest most marginalized and politically weak citizens and over 40 million are affected in Nigeria.

The intensification of the use of fragile and marginal ecosystems has led to progressive degradation and continued desertification of marginal agricultural lands. Even in areas of normal rainfall, it is feared that the damage by drought and population pressure may have resulted in the genetic loss of a vast array of valuable plant species. Pressure on the dwindling resources in the arid prone areas has resulted in a number of devastating socio-political and sectarian conflicts in the country with concomitant death, injury and heavy economic losses.

In Bangladesh, the topsoil degrades due to natural processes and human activities, the functional capabilities of soil deteriorate from activities related to agriculture, forestry, and industry. On the other hand, urban sprawling and infrastructure development cause loss of available agricultural land. Natural events such as cyclones and floods cause land loss and can also deteriorate functional capabilities of soil.

Land degradation in the coastal area results from unplanned land use as well as intrusion of saline water. Therefore, solving or minimizing land degradation problems should be based on multi-sectored multi-layered, yet integrated approaches.

Some of the causes of land degradation as noted by Ukpong (1994) include: Improper resource management, destructive logging of our forest, overgrazing and over-cropping of arable lands, flooding and wind erosion menace, strip mining in some parts of Nigeria, land degradation with pesticides and fertilizers, some known natural land slides, destruction of wetlands and marches for development. He also identified other indirect causes of land degradation to include population growth and population influx, property ownership issues, lack of control, enforcement measures and jurisdictional overlap which are due to lack of authority and the use of inappropriate technology for farming and even for producing manufactured goods.

Land degradation typically occurs because of land management practices or human development that is not sustainable over a period of time.

1.2 Problem Statement

Land degradation, as a decline in land quality caused by human activities has been a major global issue during the 20th century and will remain on the international agenda in the 21st century. The importance of land degradation among global issues is placed on because of its impact on world food security and quality of the environment.

According to Akamigbo (2005), land degradation assume varying various dimensions depending on one’s location in the country. For example, inhabitants of the coastal areas are not as worried by the fear of desert encroachment as those  who reside in Borno, Sokoto, Katsina,  and Kano states of Nigeria, just as they worry about oil pollution and spillage, accompanied with coastal erosion and flooding. Sheet erosion is nation-wide while gully erosion is most severe and dense in certain southern states of Anambra, Imo, Abia, Enugu, Ondo, Delta and Akwa Ibom. Other states outside the southern zone such as Kogi, Jigawa, Adamawa and Gombe. Flooding occurs throughout Nigeria.  Land degradation in the extreme form of gully erosion, can cause the loss of human life and other economic resources, roads and houses are destroyed.

Land degradation in an agrarian economy can lead to unsustainable agriculture and development, thereby precipitating starvation and poverty. It can cause siltation of reservoirs, lakes, stream and rivers. Such phenomenon will lead to scarcity of water for both humans and livestock. The water may be polluted and thereby cause various types of health problems.

As population continues to grow and towns and villages continue to develop, demand for more land for economic activities such as oil exploration, road, building construction and industrialization become high. These activities lead to land degradation through oil spillage, erosion and pollution which led to shortage of agricultural land (Orji, Ugwumba and Ugo, 2006). Land degradation may also caused by soil erosion, deforestation, overgrazing, shortened circles of shifting cultivation and cultivation on sloped areas without any form of conservation (Okon and Amalu, 2003; Robert, 1991; Mortis, 1990).

According to Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (2003), Nigeria has lost about 285,000sqm of her land to various form of land degradation. Again, during oil exploration, oil spillage gas flaring and other seismic operations, toxic substances are introduced into the surrounding environment consequently, the air, rivers and land becomes damaged and polluted.

These therefore raised some pertinent questions. What are the perceived effects of these activities on agricultural activities? What are the various ways of improving these degraded lands?

1.3 Objective of the Study

The overall objective of the study was to ascertain the perceived effects of land degradation in the study area. The specific objectives are to:

  1. Ascertain the perceived effects of land degradation;
  2. Identify the causes of land degradation on the agricultural activities; and
  3. Ascertain the strategies for improving the degraded area.

1.4 Research Questions

The following research questions were stated to guide this study:

  1. What are the socioeconomic characteristics of respondents in the study areas?
  2. What are the perceived effects of land degradation?
  3. What are the causes of land degradation on the agricultural activities?
  4. What are the strategies for improving the degraded area?

1.5 Significance of the Study

This study will be useful to the community for adopting more seriously soil conservation measures and to the government. It will be an aid towards the formulation of concrete policies for the amelioration of land degradation in the area.

This work will help to explore, analyze and make policy and recommendations for possible adoption by the authorities concern. The findings of this research will also strengthen agricultural production in the area, enrich literature on the area and open up new areas for research.

1.6 Scope of the Study

This study examines the effects of land degradation on agricultural activities with a particular reference to Ethiopia East Local Government Area of Delta State.

1.7 Limitation of the Study

There is no study undertaken by a researcher that is perfect. The imperfection of any research is always due to some factors negatively affecting a researcher in the course of carrying out research. Therefore, time constraint has shown no mercy to the research. The limited time has to be shared among many alternative uses, which includes reading, attending lectures and writing of this research, also distance and its attendant costs of travelling to obtain information which may enhance the writing of this study was a major limitation.

Chapter Five

Summary, Conclusion and Recommendations

5.1 Introduction

This chapter presents the summary, conclusion and recommendations for further studies.

5.2 Summary of Findings

This study was carried out to examine the effects of land degradation on agricultural activities using Ministry of Agriculture, Ethiopia East Local Government Area of Delta State. To achieve this objective, three research questions were stated to guide this study. A structured questionnaire was used as the main instrument to gather data from 40 respondents in Ethiopia East Local Government Area of Delta State. Out of this number, 40 (100%) copies of questionnaire were appropriately completed and returned for data analysis.

The data collected from the respondents were analyzed using tables and descriptive statistics to analyze the research questions.

The findings revealed that;

  1. There are perceived effects of land degradation.
  2. There are causes of land degradation on the agricultural activities.
  3. There are strategies for improving the degraded area.

5.3 Conclusion

Based on the findings of this study and subsequent recommendations, it is concluded that land degradation will remain an important global issue for the 21st century because of its adverse effect on agronomic productivity, the environment, and its effect on food security and the quality of life. If the present diminishing availability of productive land resources continues unabatedly and uncheck mated, then the survival of African population will be seriously threatened.

5.4 Recommendations

Based on the findings of this study, the researcher made the following recommendations;

In order to restore, sustain and enhance the productive and protective functions of the land in the area, farmers were of the view that, there should be proper use of organic manure, practicing mixed cropping, crop rotation, mounting of an awareness campaign on the proper use of agricultural land, effective stakeholder participation in land use planning and management and practicing alley cropping and agro forestry systems would go a long way to reduce the degradation level of the soils. Also, improving the spread of information, through widely linked, user-friendly information systems for farmers on land management would help in reducing land degradation.

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