Thursday, September 30, 2010


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Why is Nigeria so blessed with abundant crude oil yet little has been achieved in terms of socio-economic development since the drilling of the first commercial well in Oloibiri present day Bayelsa state in the late 1970’s, has been the subject of various discussion for a long time now.

Some argue that oil has been a curse rather than a blessing and that before the exploration and production of oil in Nigeria, the nation’s agricultural sector contributed over 90% of the Gross Domestic Product {GDP} of the countries economy and employed as high as over 70% of the population directly or indirectly compared with the less than 40% it now contributes the Gross Domestic Product {GDP}.

My argument has always been that we are where we are because of our attitude and perception; both our leaders and followers are guilty of these. We tend to think mostly of me, me and me wanting everything to be done now, now, now and paying little attention to the good of all and developing idea that would outlive us. Until we change this perception, as a nation we would remain where we are, socio-economically.

That Nigeria has a comparative advantage in the Agricultural sector is not in doubt but harnessing and developing these potentials has been the challenge. Of the less than 40% Agriculture contributes to the Gross Domestic Product {GDP} of the economy, forestry accounts for 3% only whereas out of the total landmass 92.4 million hectares of the country, 31.3 million hectares is covered by forest having over 490 tress whereas only about 100 are utilized.

The equatorial maritime air mass along the coast influences the climate which is characterized by high humidity and heavy rainfall, creating the rainforest zone of Nigeria and cutting across mainly the southern part of the country.

Nigeria stands to gain a lot from the cultivation, development and organized exploitation of her forest reserves especially in these days of global warming. Forest provides wood, foods, tourism and other industrial raw materials.

Some of the investment opportunities available in the forest industry include

 Production of pulpwood and paper.
 Establishment of sawmills
 Ecotourism Development:
 Wood Processing and Allied Industries
 Establishment of Carpentry/Furniture workshops
 Mulberry Plantation/Sericulture
 Snail Production
 Honey Production
 Mushroom Production

Government in different states of the federations seek to encourage the private sector in the establishment of forest reserves and due to the peculiar nature {long term outlook} of forest business various incentives have been put forward in order to encourage investment in the sector and some of the incentives are stated below.

 Review of forestry law to accommodate low tariffs for private plantation owners.
 Provision of land in designated rural areas for forest plantation establishment.
 Improved rural road network.
 Open door policy through close and healthy relationship between the state government and the Organized Private Sector.
 Distribution/Sales of timber seedlings to private investors at highly subsidized rates.
 Tax concession/low tariff on logging activities on private plantations.
 Concessionary interest rates on Forestry loans.
 Low/zero tariffs on agricultural/forestry equipment.
 Wide- spread extension services on forest plantation establishment.

Logging is Nigeria is controlled by the various state governments in order to check deforestation and help plan a good afforestation programme. Round logs and rough sawn wood remains banned and completely prohibited for export.

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