Why Biafra Can Never Depend on Nigeria or any other Country for Food
13th April 2017
The industrious people of Biafra have taken their destiny into their own hands and embarked on building a nation free from injustice, bitterness, fear and hate. A new nation, who wants to develop their innate capabilities and rear their children in an atmosphere of peace and security. Biafra is not only rich in human resources, but is also blessed by Chukwu Okike with enormous material resources, some of which are only recently being realized and exploited. In the pre-colonial era, of course the country was famous for its palm oil and palm kernel production. Under British rule, the revenue derived from these was used in balancing the budget of the whole of Nigeria. Infact, the whole reason for the amalgamation of Northern and Southern Nigeria in 1914, was to enable the colonial power to use the revenue derived from the south and especially from Biafra, to offset the deficit incurred in the budget of Northern Nigeria.
In recent years Biafra has improved its production of palm produce. It is generally known that Nigeria was one of the world's most important exporters of palm produce, supplying 50 per cent of the World's palm kernel and over 30 per cent of its palm oil. What is perhaps not so well-known is that Biafra produced over 90 per cent of the Nigerian palm kernel and nearly 50 per cent of the palm oil. During the current Six-Year Development Plan which expires in 1968 Biafra has spent almost £4 million in the establishment of plantations and the rehabilitation of old palm-trees. Thus the future of this vital source of revenue is assured for Biafra.
Biafran soil is very rich and can grow many crops. The soil in Biafran land is far richer than the one in Northern Nigeria. Thus Biafra has for a long time embarked on the extensive cultivation of such cash crops as cocoa, rubber and copra. As regards cocoa, it is anticipated that production in Biafra will amount to about 10,000 tons per annum, by 1968. Large plantations of rubber have been established in some parts of the country. One of them established by the Dunlop Rubber Company is valued at about £1,000,000. Exports of rubber from Biafra now are almost 60,000 tons per annum and this figure is likely to increase greatly when the plantation scheme of the country begins to mature. Biafra also produced over 60 per cent of the copra exported from Nigeria and further extensions of the plantations have been made. Other agricultural products which are being exploited on an increasing scale are raffia, piassava, jute, castor, Soya beans, groundnuts, benniseed and sugar cane.
Biafra is almost self-sufficient in the production of food crops. This was demonstrated when, as a result of the recent crisis, the flow of foodstuffs into and out of Biafra ceased. It was discovered that the cost of several food items dropped considerably resulting in a remarkable reduction in the cost of living, in spite of the extra-ordinary rise in the population. Common food crops produced in the country include yams, tomatoes, bananas, pawpaws, cassava, rice, beans, plantains, pineapples, onions, peppers, oranges, avocado pears, etc. Protein, especially meat, was supplied in the post largely from external sources but recent events have shown that even here Biafra could easily be self-sufficient. The cattle ranch at Obudu, a place 5,000 feet above sea level and free from tse-tse fly, now produces a substantial quantity of the country's meat supply and more ranches are being established. There is also a large and growing stock of goats, sheep and pigs. Poultry-keeping has recently become a thriving business in the country and Biafra is at present virtually self-sufficient as regards the supply of eggs and chicken.
Owing to its geographical position, Biafra is rich in timber, most of which is yet to be exploited. Approximately 9 per cent of the total area of the country has been designated forest reserves and there is a vast acreage of forest plantations. Biafra now exports nearly 3 million cubic foot of logs end about 35,000 feet of sewn timber annually. The country does not depend on its agricultural and forest resources alone; there is also an abundance of mineral deposits which is contributing enormously to the wealth of Biafra. Limestone of a high grade, suitable for the manufacture of cement, is found in many parts of the territory. A substantial iron ore deposit, with a metal content of about 42 per cent after beneficiation, has been discovered near Enugu. Around Abakaliki, in the north, there are large deposits of lead and zinc ore; as well as a small quantity of silver. Potential annual production rates have been estimated at 13,150 tons lead concentrates and 8,150 tons zinc. There is also an abundance of clay deposits all over the country suitable for ceramic and other industrial purposes. Large quantities of sandstone and glass sands exist on the outskirts of Enugu as well as at Afam, Port Harcourt and elsewhere. A mineral which has played a great part in the economic development of Nigeria is coal. It has been mined in Biafra since 1914 and is the only source of this form of fuel in West Africa.
In 1950 the total output was well over 900,000 tons but since then the market for coal has been shrinking, mainly because an increasing number of countries are now using diesel, fuel oil and natural gas instead of coal as a source of energy.
The discovery nearly ten years ago that Biafra possessed oil and natural gas in commercial quantities was a milestone in the economic development of the country. The exploitation of these minerals has made astonishing progress. In 1958 crude oil production were 229,458 net tons but five years later it had risen to 3,694,981 net tons. Current production stands at over 7 million net tons annually. More oil deposits are still being discovered in the country and production is yet to begin from a large number of oil-bearing wells. Similarly, vast quantities of natural gas have barn discovered in a number of areas within the country. It has been estimated that production from one area alone could easily exceed 50 million cubic feet a day if fully exploited.
Biafrans, engaged themselves in farming, fishing or cottage industries in their villages, have also benefited from the economic growth of the country.
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