Rivers State has tremendous natural resource potentials, but a size-able proportion of these has never been quantified or exploited. Given the abundant cultivable land in the upland area of the State and adequate rainfall, the potential for crop production is very substantial. Agriculture, Forestry and Other basic Activities: An overwhelming majority of the people of Rivers State are involved in two primary activities: farming and fishing.
A sample survey conducted by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources found that about forty per cent of the rural dwellers were involved in farming in 1983. The main root crops are yam, cassava and coco-yam; while the grains are maize, lowland rice and beans. Other crops grown for food include, vegetables, melon, pineapples and plantain. The major cash crops are oil palm products, rubber, coconut, raffia palm and jute. Rivers State is traditionally a fishing area and the principal occupation of the riverine people is fishing and its associated industries. About 270 species of fish have been identified in this area.
The fishing population is almost exclusively dominated by artisan fishermen. The State also provides such valuable sea-foods as crabs, oysters, shrimps and fishes, as well as mammals and birds. Land use analysis reveals clearly that only a very small portion of cultivable land is presently used for crop production. This amount is estimated at about 1,060,162 ha or 54.6 per cent of cultivable land, consisting of all the upland area and a large portion of the Upper/Lower Delta Plains. Land use categories include cropland, plantations, forest reserves, swamps, wooded areas and built up areas.
The dominant land use category is the swamps (fresh water and saltwater tidal swamps) that are only very thinly cultivated in patches in few places. They occupy about 40 per cent of the land. They are used as fishing areas. Cropland forms a relatively large area estimated at about 60 per cent of the State’s land area. Of this amount, only about 80,000 ha or about 4 per cent of the State’s land area is cultivated annually, the rest being fallow.
The intensity of use of cropland is very low in most areas. The portion of the State land that is cultivated at greater than 50 per cent intensity is the southeast and eastern upland areas of the coastal Plantations of rubber and oil palm, developed either by government or individuals are, however, common in the northern and eastern parts of the if State. They constitute about 0.5 per cent of the land area.
Forest reserves are distributed through out the State but they are more common in the northwestern part of the State. Wooded areas are commonly the freshwater upper delta floodplain and isolated preserved natural forests. Built up areas constitute about 0.3 per cent of land area and are the villages and major towns, which are concentrated more on the well drained terrace uplands, the largest of which is Port Harcourt.
As treasure base of the nation, she is blessed with rich crude oil reserve. An enormous amount of Nigeria’s oil wealth is derived from Rivers State. The first commercial discovery of crude oil was at Oloibiri in Bayelsa State in 1956. This success was i followed by the discovery of other wells at Afarm in 1957, and the Ebubu and Bomu in 1958, all in present day Rivers State.
Thus, the State has become firmly established as one of the major oil producing centres in the nation. By 1983, Nigeria’s oil output was 450,974,545 barrels gross, of which 44.3 percent came from wells in the then Rivers State before Bayelsa was created out of it. The area’s , contribution to the overall oil revenue in the country for 1982 and 1983 stood at ₦2,684.99 billion and ₦1,676.06 billion respectively, representing 47 and s 41.5 per cent of total revenue for the country. Rivers State now produces oil from 416 wells, out of the 1201 wells in the country. Associated with oil exploitation and exploration is the potential for gas production.
Local Sourcing of Raw Materials: Rivers a State is second to Lagos in respect of industrially development. The natural resource potentials of the state include wide ranging agricultural and industrial mineral products, from which raw materials can be sourced for the establishment of low, medium and large scale industries. Agricultural raw materials for agro allied industries include, rubber, oil palm, palm kernel, cassava, vegetables, rubber, timber, rope etc. Raw materials for medium to large scale industries include petrochemicals such as carbon black and polypropylene, and petroleum n gas, natural gas, bitumen, and a host of others.