- The Federal Republic of Nigeria, on the west coast of the continent of Africa, is divided into four Regions: Northern, Western, Midwestern and Eastern. The Federal Capital of the country is Lagos. Eastern Nigeria occupies the south-eastern portion of the country, nearest to the Federal Republic of Cameroun.
The propensity to establish Farm Settlements by the Regional Governments of Nigeria prompted this study of the potentialities of Farm Settlements as factors conducive to the economic development of Eastern Nigeria.
In 1960, the Government of Eastern Nigeria passed a white paper which aimed at improving the productivity of the agricultural sector of the economy through the establishment of Farm Settlements.
Seven settlements were selected: Ohaji, Ulonna, Abak, Igbariam, Boki, Erei and Uzo-Uwanni. Each settlement consists of 12,000 acres and when fully developed will accommodate 720 settler-families.
The commercial crops to be grown on each settlement are assigned by the government based on the results of soil surveys conducted by the Ministry of Agriculture and on economic considerations of markets and prices. Ohaji, Ulonna and Abak are to grow Oil Palm/Rubber; Igbariam and Boki , Oil Palm/Citrus; Erei, Oil Palm/Cocoa and Uzo-Uwanni, Irrigated Rice.
It is estimated by the Government that the cost of establishing each settler will be about ₤ 1500 ($4,200). This amount is to be repaid installmentally by the settler. According to the Government policy on Farm Settlement, the settler shall start repayment of principal in his seventh year of settlement. The debt which carries a three percent interest is to be amortized over a 15-year period.
It is estimated that the net income of a settler when his tree crops are fully established will be about ₤500 ($1,400) a year.
The possible impact of the Farm Settlements on the various facets of the economy are examined. Increased revenue to government as "profit" from export crops produced is expected to be significant. With more money, the capability of the government to provide more amenities such as schools and hospitals would be enhanced. Improved production methods resulting from technical "on-the-job" training will increase the efficiency of the farmers and eventually lead to greater production of agricultural products. Significantly increased production of export crops will require Government to be inclined to improve transportation and communication systems which likewise generate economic activity having far reaching effects. Better transportation and communication would be expected to increase both geographic and occupational mobility and enhance opportunities to engage in secondary manufacturing and distribution.
Possible obstacles and difficulties that may serve as inhibiting factors are also recognized. Lack of technically trained personnel will sure militate against the execution of even the best of plans. Social and cultural resistance will no doubt constitute formidable obstacles. The possible lack of foreign demand and variability of prices for the export crops will prove particularly detrimental to achieving success. Lack of domestic purchasing power may limit the demand for the processed products from the Farm Settlements and thereby limit their beneficial impact. However, even with the obstacles and the impediments duely considered, it is more likely than not, that the Farm Settlements will have a significantly favorable impact on the economic development of Eastern Nigeria.