Farmers in the Okoro-Utip community in the Ibeno Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State have lamented the negative impact of oil spills on their crops and aquatic animals.
The farmers raised the alarm on Tuesday during a prospection meeting with a non-governmental organisation, Health of Mother Earth Foundation, at the community hall.
They explained that they have been experiencing poor yields due to oil spillage, adding that many of them obtained credit facilities from microfinance banks to expand their yields.
One of the farmers in the community, Abasiubong John, while conducting HOMEF around his farm lamented that the cassava stems he planted for over a year ago were yet to bear tubers, while the stems have started decaying.
He said that all the vegetables planted on his farm have become yellowish, adding that even when fertilisers are applied, they will have no positive impact on the crops.
“This cassava you see here, I planted it over one year ago and when you harvest them, nothing will be inside of it. If you leave it to stay longer, it will start decaying from the ground.
“This is because the oil that enters the farm destroys the grass and whatever is planted even if you apply organic manure, it will not work, not to talk of fertiliser.
“This oil drilling has affected the Ibeno people seriously. It has affected our soil such that you cannot see earthworms, millipedes, etc. which help in the soil aeration,” the farmer said.
Another farmer, Elizabeth Ifum, lamented that the health of her people has been negatively impacted on by the consumption of crops planted with fertilisers, noting that it is sad that plants never grow in the area without the application of fertiliser.
Speaking earlier, the Project Lead, HOMEF, Mr. Stephen Oduware, described Ibeno as a hot spot for oil pollution and encouraged the people to stand up and demand what is should be given to them.
He said the organisation would empower them 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, as well as ways to restore the impacted environment.