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1



Evaluation of

A
gricultural
B
iodiversity

Conservation P
ractices by
R
ural
F
armers

in
A
kwa
I
bom
S
tate, Nigeria

Camilus
B
assey
B
en

Department of
V
ocational and
S
pecial
E
ducation

University of
C
alabar
,

C
alabar, Nigeria.

E
-
mail address:
bencamilus@yahoo.com
,
phone
:
08034266227



ABSTRACT

Akwa Ibom state is located in the rainforest belt of Nigeria known for preponderance of
agricultural biodiversity
. Agricultural biodiversity is the diversity of agrogenetic resources used
directly for food and agriculture; th
e diversity of species that support production and the
diversity of species that support agroecosystem, as well as diversity agroecosystems
themselves. It performs many closely interrelated socioeconomic and environmental functions,
including promoting foo
d and livelihood security, maintaining productive and environmental
sustainability; and contributing to resilient rural economics.
F
armers have been making frantic
efforts at conserving this vital resource

because of its enormous potentials.

However, despi
te
these efforts, agrobiodiversity is being lost at an alarming rate. This study was

therefore

designed to appraise the status of agrobiodiversity conservation

practices

among rural farm
er
s
in Akwa Ibom state
, Nigeria
. The specific objective was to determi
ne indigenous
agrobiodiversity conservation practices adopted by rural farmers. A research question and one
related null hypothesis were formulated to guide study. A total of 858 respondents comprising
rural farmers, agricultural extension officers and for
estry officers involved in the study. The
data were obtained through a structured questionnaire.
F
indings revealed that rural farmers
employ
ed

indigenous practices such as shifting cultivation, establishment and management of
sacred grooves and imposition
of traditional sanctions in the conservation of agrobiodiversity in
the state
.






Introduction

The conservation of biodiversity is one aspect of environment, which has recently received
global attention

in recent years
.
(Board of

Science and Technology for international
devel
opment, (BOSTID, 2002).It is essentially synonymous with life on the earth

and

is usually
considered at three different levels: genetic diversity, and ecosystem diversity, specie diversity.
2


The concept of agricultural biodiversity or agrobiodiversity as it

is sometimes referred could be
identified within a macro concept of biodiversity. Agricultural biodiversity is restricted to plants
and animals used in commerce or having potential use (Srivastava, Smith and Ferno, 2001).

I
t is
the diversity of genetic re
sources (varieties, breeds, species, cultivated, reared or wild) used
directly for food and agriculture; the diversity of species that support production (soil biota,
pollinators, predators .etc.) and those in the wider environment that support agroecosyst
ems
(agricultural, Pastoral, forest and aquatic), as well as the diversity of agrecosystems themselves
(FAO, 2008). Agroecosystems are those ecosystems that are used for agriculture, and comprise
polycultures
,
monocultures and mixed systems including crop
-
livestock systems (rice
-
fish),
agroforestry, agrosilvo
-

pastoral systems, aquaculture as well as rangelands, pastures and
fallow lands (Pimbert,

2009).


Agricultural biodiversity is of immerse benefit to humanity. Man depends on various livestock
and crop

species for food, fuel
, fibre, medicine, drugs and raw materials for a host of
manufacturing technologies and purposes. The productivity of agricultural system is as a
continuous alteration of once wild plant and animal germplasms. Also genetic engineerin
g
especially in the pharmaceutical and food processing industries uses agro
-
genetic resources
.

Besides these direct values, agricultural biodiversities are important parts of the processes that
regulate the earth’s atmospheric, climatic, hydrologic and bi
ochemical cycles. It
provide
s
ecological

services including the protection of watersheds, cycling of nutrients, combating
erosion, enriching soil, regulating water flow, trapping sediments, mitigating erosion and
controlling pest population (Ehrenfeld, 200
0).

Furthermore, agrobiodiversity holds ethical and aesthetical values and also forms the basis for
sustainable rural development and resource management. In most rural areas of Akwa Ibom
State, the diversity of local plants and animals is being harnessed
for sustainable economic
development. Locally adapted traditional animal breeds (sheep, goats, and cattle), crop
varieties (fruit trees, fodder plants and cereals) and ‘wild’ foods are being explored to generate
local products, jobs, income and environment
al care.

In spite of the enormous potentialities of
3


agrobiodiversity in retaining plants, animals, soils and water as well as serving as the foundatio
n
of sustainable development, most o
f the environmental discussions in this regard draw
attention to its being increasingly subjected to devastation and loss.

Akwa Ibom State being

one of the geographical zones located in the rainforest belt

of Nigeria

is

known for high density of agro
-
gene
tic diversity.

However,

the diversity of agroecosystem is
being rap
idly eroded

primarily due to intensive resource exploitation and extensive alteration
of habitats. Other associated factors include: the neglect of agrobiodiversity conservation;
instituti
ons and management systems; the blueprint approach to development whereby
monoculture systems and uniform technologies are promoted; the quest for the transnational
corporations that market agricultural inputs and process food and fibres for commercial pro
fits
and uncontrolled over
-
production; inequitable access to and control over land , water , trees
and genetic resources of the part of local people; market pressures and the under
-
valuation of
agricultural biodiversity; demographic factors and oil spillag
e.

To address these multifarious and complex threats to agrobiodiversity, a wide range of
cons
ervation actions are essential.
Conservation as applied to agrobiodiversity refers to the
preservation, maintenance, sustenance, sustainable utilization, restorat
ion and enhancement
of all species, breeds and strains of livestock and varieties of crop plants especially those of
economic scientific and cultural interests to mankind for agriculture either at present or in
future (
WCWC, 2001
)
.

In the pre
-
colonial Nige
ria, religious beliefs and practices played important roles in the
conservation of agrobiodiversity in va
rious parts of Akwa Ibom State.
Sacred animals and crop
habitats were not exploited by people and so they remained in their pristine state. Traditional

methods of conserving agrobiodiversity such as reserving certain areas for religious purposes ,
prohibiting firewood collection from certain areas and on certain days, stipulating only seasonal
collections of natural products and maintenance of herbarium
were largely in vogue. However,
with the institution of western values and cultures, these traditional methods of conservation
gradually disappeared.


Consequently, l
ocal indigenous and adapted livestock breeds,
4


landraces, other crop species, and agroecosy
stem are disappearing by dilution and replacement
leading to the loss of genetic resources of great value.

According to McNeel
y

(2009
)
,

rural

farmers often have profound and detailed knowledge of the
ecosystem and species with which they are in contact and have developed effective ways of
ensuring they are used sustainably. Not only does this knowledge include information about
different specie
s of animals and plants, their behaviour and uses, but also information about
the way in which different aspects

of the ecosystem interrelate.


Some groups of rural farmers are known
to

construct taxonomies of plants
and animal breeds
base
d on useful
characteristics. They

also compile information on species abundance and
distribution ecological communities an
d successions

(Cooper,

2001)
.
These show that local
people can

identify and classify useful plant and animal species
,

describe ecological
communiti
es in an environmental context and test and evaluate species for their useful
potential. Using this knowledge, they design, test and develop mechanisms for transferring
knowledge from one generation to the next.

The conservation practices adopted by rural

farmers in the main
tenance of agrobiodiversity can
be

identified mainly within the traditional tropical forest technologies
-

cyclic agroforestry,
intercropping and home garden; traditional livestock husbandry technologies, indigenous tree
crop management

methods, establishment and management of a herbarium

(Castro, 2007)
.


A
grobiodiversity are conserved through t
he establishment
and preservation of sacred
grooves by rural people. Some sacred grooves acquire their importance in conservation practice
of local people from the fact that
ancestors’

graves are clustered in them; they are used as the
meeting places; economically or socia
lly important crop

species are
planted

around
tombstones
(Castro, 2007)
.

People especially women are banned from
exploiting

them. Elaborate
managements

for protecting the grooves are

instituted and enforced. Punishment for offenders

is often apportioned in
cluding

fines.

5



Selective maintenance and the promotion of particular species have been
the

most

important
methods
of
agrobiodiversity

conservation measures in Africa for some years now (Castro,
2007). Most areas in Africa enjoy a surplus of trees, so that

the

people who lived there had the
luxury of taking out unwanted species and

concentrating on the preservation and enhancement
of others.

Benneh


(
2007) cited example of
Adansonia digitata
,

a crop specie which is
frequently promoted, planted and saved a
bove all around villages where it is valued for its
edible spinach
-
like leaves, its ascorbic fruits, the rope which can be made from its bark and the
water storage potential of its hollowed out trunk. Valued species are usually cut and pollarded
in such a
way that they will live to be consumed on sustainable basis.

Agrobiodiversity are

also
conserved

by rural people through taboos and religious sanctions.
Religious sanctions in the Nigerian context are a way of commending elders or rulers to gods,
and the a
ncestors, and using their
authority to

strengthen the authority of the living individuals
(NEST, 2001).
Trees

for instance are both set aside in indigenous management system and also
lived among. Most trees are actually being reserved for conservation purp
ose and the ban on
the consumption and utilization of such is often wrapped in religious language to give it force.
In some African local language, there is unique noun prefix for all agricultural crops and
animals, gods and spirits and many crop species a
re thought to

house spirits (Shepherd,
2002
).Examples of these

sorts of sanctions and taboos

as highlighted by Shepherd (2002)
include:
(i)
t
he attribution
of
certain

calamities

to

the
illicit

felling of tree crops
; (ii) t
he threat
that over
-
exploitation
of a particular crop specie would call forth a deity who is dangerous to
humans
; (iii) t
he threat by some chiefs to decapitate anyone who fell some tree crop species
and to amputate the arm of anyone who mutilate
s

a seedling of such

species
; (iv) t
he creat
ion
of closed and open harvesting seasons by the placing of religious taboos or infringement such
as the taboos on the cutting of “female tre
es" during agricultural seasons.

On conservation of agrobiodiversity of livestock
,

WCMC (2002) pointed out
that rural farmers
started as
domesticators of

agrob
iodiversity of livestock source.

Thi
s could be traced to the
time
wild

animals were enfolded into human societies,
and

man assumed responsibility for
them and exerted control over their breeding.

6



P
et

ke
eping could have bee
n a first stage in conservation effort

(
Serpell, 2007
)
. Genetic
variability in livestock species is consequent on domestication by rural farmers. Rural farmers
are involved mainly in insitu
conservation

that

is the maintenance of live p
opulations of animals
in their adaptive environment or as close to it as it is practically possible.

Rural farmers'
agricultural activities have been identified as having been instrumental in the formation of the
natural environment and keeping of some loc
al breeds of livestock. In many cases
,

this
ad
aptation of the environment has

become associated with specific livestock and with
particular rearing practices and method in West Africa (
FAO, 2004). In some communities,
the
conservation of ancient habitats h
as incorporated the conservation of livestock rearing skills
and the
ancient

breeds
with

which

they

are associated. Many breeds of livestock have
developed in association with specific cultural groups (rural farmers) within countries and many
have
particular economic, artistic or religious significance and value to those people.

There are many examples of individual or group of rural farmers who have continued to
maintain and breed herd of particular type of breed of livestock because they believed
that
they had something to offer. In many cases such farmers have ensured the survival of that
breed until its value has been recognized (FAO, 2004). The value placed by individual farmers
on their breeds has enabled unfashionable or temporary uneconomic b
reeds to survive until
their potential value could be recognized.

FAO (2004) also identifies some principal breeding
methods adopted by rural farmers in the conservation of agrobiodiversity of livestock source.
These include natural breeding, random mating

and pedigree breeding
.

Therefore, the c
onservation of agrobiodiversity has been an age long activity among rural
farmer

s
and a pertinent
rich source of information about
agrobiodiversity conservation is
the
knowledge of local people whose livelihood depen
ds on their management of biological
resources (McNeely, 2009).

This study w
as generally aimed at evaluating

agrobiodiversity conservation practices among
rura
l farmers in Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria with a view to

ascertain
ing

the extent to which rural
farm
ers employ indigenous agrobiodiversity conservation practices in the stat
e.

7



The study was guided by this question
.

What

is the extent to which rural farmers
employ indigenous agrobiodiversity conservation practices?

The null hypothesis stated that

t
here
will be no significant difference in the mean ratings of male and female rural farmers on
the extent of indigenous agrobiodiversity conservation practices employed in the stat
e.
The

survey design

was employed in carrying out the study.

The area of the study

is Akwa Ibom State.

Akwa Ibom State is one of the states in Nigeria. It is
situated

in the Niger Delta environmental setting known for preponderance of agrobiodiversity.

It is divided

into three agricultural
zones


Eket, Ikot Ekpene and Uyo based on he
r
e
c
ological
characteristics. Eket zone is identified with fresh water and mangrove swamp forest ecological
structure. It is located along coastal creeks, estuaries and lagoons. It is dominated with varieties
of vegetations such as tall trees with prop roots

which yield timber and pulps. The thick forest
also serves as habitat for wildlife
.

The location
of Akwa Ibom just north of the e
quator and
within the humid tropics and its proximity to the sea makes the state generally humid. On the
basis of its
geographical location
,

the climate of Akwa Ibom State can be described as a tropical
rainy type which experiences abundant rainfall with very high temperature.
The state
experiences two main seasons, the wet and the dry seasons. The wet or rainy season last
s
between eight to nine months starting from mid
-

march till the end of November. The dry
season has a short duration of between the last week of November or early December and lasts
till early march.

8


The target population for the study was 6,242. This com
prised rural farmers, agr
icultural
extension officers,
forestry

officers
,

conservation officers of Ministry of Environment and staff
of NGOs

serving in the three different agricultural zones in the State.

Sampling was carried out in the rural farmers’ pop
ulation only. The technique of proportionate
stratified sampling was used

to dr
aw up the sample
for the study
.

The rural farmers’

respondents were selected

from the population of 5,522 for the study.
Applying stratified
sampling technique, the rural farmers respondents were divided into three groups based on the
agricultural zones of the state.
Ten per cent of rural based farmers were drawn from each of
the z
ones. Therefore the sample size

of rural far
mer’s

respondents for Eket, Ikot Ekpene and
Uyo were 193, 182, and 177 respectively.
The entire

population of professional forestry officers
(118), agricultural extension officers (138), conservation officers of Ministry of Environment
(26
)
, and staff of N
GOs were involved in the study. The grand total of the sample of the study
was 858.


A structured questionnaire was used
to collect
demographic data on the characterist
ics of
prospective respondents and

information

aimed at

providing answers to the researc
h questions
considered in the
study.

The

reliability of the instrument

was determined
,

and the

internal
consistency of the instrument was determined by analyzing the data obtained from the exercise
using Cronbach alpha reliability test. The
se

items yielded

a r
eliable coefficient of 0.71. This

result indicated that the instrument could be considerably relied upon to generate consistent
information relating to the problem of the study.


9


To facilitate the administration of the instrument, the questionnaire was

administered by
personal contacts through the assistance of experienced and professional agricultural extension
officers, forestry officers and teachers of agriculture serving in different agricultural zones in
the state.

The data collected were analyzed
by using mean and independent t
-

test statistics for
research question and hypothesis respectively.

Results and discussion

Table 1 shows the mean distribution of rural farmers on the extent to which indigenous
agrobiodiversity conservation
practices is em
ployed. Results
reveal
ed

that some indigenous
agrobiodiversity conservation practices are employed to a high extent in the State. These
include: Shifting cultivation, alley cropping, mixed farming, collection and preservation of seeds
and establishment an
d preservation of sacred grooves. Others are the imposition of traditional
sanctions, maintenance of herbarium and domestication of various livestock species.
I
ndigenous agrobiodiversity conservation practices such as planned grazing and browsing, and
main
tenance of rangelands with divers forage crop species, are employed to a low extent in the
State (Table 1).

A grand

mean of 3.16 was recorded indicating

that generally, rural farmers
employ to high extent most indigenous agrobiodiversity conservation pract
ices in the State.







10


Table 1: Extent of employment of indigenous Agrobiodiversity Practices by Rural Farmers

Variable


Agrobiodiversity conservation practices

x

Remark

1

Shifting cultivation

3.52

*

2

Alley cropping

3.1

*

3

Mixed cropping

3.68

*

4

Collection and preservation of seeds

3.62

*

5

Collection and planting/preservation of vegetative materials

2.82

*

6

Establishment and preservation of sacred grooves

3.55

*

7

Selective maintenance and cultivation of valued
species of crops
in the farm/backyard

3.50

**

8

Imposition traditional sanctions regulating the cultivation of
some valued plant species

2.96

*

9

Imposition of sanctions on the destruction and cutting of some
valued plants species

3.40

*

10

Adoption of a planned grazing and browsing pattern

2.47

**

11

Adoption of indigenous free conservation/management practices
such as coppicing and rotational lopping

2.53

*

12

Establishment and maintenance of rangeland with diverse forage
crop species

1
.99

**

13

Establishment and maintenance of herbarium

3.36

*

14

Domestication of live population of diverse species of ruminants
and monogastrics in the herd

3.55

*

15

Adoption natural breeding, random mating, and pedigree
breeding in the herd

3.25

*


N = 858;

*

= High Extent; ** = Low Extent;

Grand Mean = 3.16


11


Table 2 shows

the t
-
values of mean ratings of male and female on the indigenous
agrobiodiversi
ty conservation practices. N
o significant difference exists on the extent to which
male and female rural farmers employ most indigenous practice in the conservation of
agrobiodiversity in the State. Such practices include those indicated by item Nos. 1
-

7 and 10


15 (t
-
cal > t
-
tab
at df 0.05
and α =

0.05). Following this, the null hypothesis of no significant
difference on indigenous agrobiodiversity conservation practices adopted by male and female
farmers in respect of these items was upheld
.

R
esults also show

that there was signi
ficant
difference on the extent to which male and female rural far
mers employ

indigenous
agrobiodiversity conservation practices in the State. The related null hypothesis was therefore
accepted in
that

respects.









12


Table 2:
Summary of t
-
values
verifying the difference in Indigenous Agrobiodiversity
Conservation Practices by Male and Female Farmers.

Variable

Indigenous Agrobiodiversity
Conservation Practices

Male

Female

t
-
cal

Rmk

x
1

S
1
2

x
2

S
2
2

1

Shifting cultivation

3.5

0.70

3.53

0.68

0.289

NS*

2

Alley cropping

3.31

0.82

3.30

0.84

0.131

NS*

3

Mixed cropping

3.48

0.36

3.58

0.34

-
2.04

NS*

4

Collection and preservation of crop
seeds

3.48

0.36

3.60

0.32

-
2.50

NS*

5

Collection and
planting/preservation
of vegetative materials

2.82

0.77

2.81

0.77

0.135

NS*

6

Establishment and preservation of
sacred grooves

2.46

0.77

2.27

0.73

2.638

NS*

7

Selective maintenance and
cultivation of valued species of crops
in the farm/backyard

3.48

0.77

3.41

0.73

0.972

NS*

8

Imposition of traditional sanctions
regulating the cultivation of some
valued plant species

2.34

0.49

2.21

0.46

2.280

S**

9

Imposition of traditional sanctions on
the destruction and cutting down of
valued plant species

3.59

0.56

3.39

1.44

2.439

S**

10

Adoption of planned grazing and
browsing pattern

2.47

0.77

2.46

0.77

0.135

NS*

11

Adoption of indigenous tree
conservation/management practice
such as coppicing and rotational
lopping

2.52

0.98

2.55

0.98

-
0.635

NS*

12

Establishment and maintenance of
rangeland with diverse forage crop
species

1.99

0.72

1.94

0.70

0.714

NS*

13

Establishment and maintenance of
herbarium

3.35

0.57

3.32

0.54

0.483

NS*

14

Domestication of live population of
diverse species of ruminant and
monogastrics in the herd

3.58

0.39

3.51

0.36

1.370

NS*

15

Adoption of natural breeding,
random in mating and pedigree
breeding in the herd

3.24

0.60

3.26

0.57

0.312

NS*






N
1

= 289; N
2

= 263, t
-
tab = 1.960;

= 0.05; df = 500; NS = Non Significant;




S = Significant. * = Accepted; ** = Rejected.



13


Discussion


Indigenous Agricultural Biodiversity Conservation Practices by Rural Farmers


T
he study
revealed that rural farmers in the State employ to a high extent some
indigenous practices in their agro
-
resources conservation system. This finding is in consonance
with the e
arlier empirical workers of BOS
TID (2002) and Shiva (2002). All pointed to enorm
ous
contributions of rural farmers and other local people in the developing and protecting,
agrobiodiversity in particular a diversity of cultivated, semi
-
wild and wild plants as well as
livestock resources used for food, fuel and medicines.

The study has

revealed a number of farming system
-
based indigenous agrobiodiversity
conservation practices employed by farmers in their localities in the state. These include,
shifting cultivation, alley cropping and mixed cropping. The findings specifically indicated
that
far greater number of rural farmers (X <3.68) adopted mixed cropping practice as a strategy for
maintaining the diversity of crop resources in their areas.
S
imilar findings
have been reported
in
previous studie
s

(Igbozurike, (2007); Srivasta et al, (2
001); Soule and

P
iper, (2002).

In many
parts of the state, rural farmers
cultivate areas of land with

diverse species of crops, harvest,
and process

and store their produce using techniques that ensure sustainable protection of
genetic priority and diversi
ty of such crops for generations. Most of them adopt mixed cropping
practice.

Firstly, most mixed crop has the tendency to preserve
agroecosystem

and its diversity
by cither reproducing a particular agroecosystem or limiting the natural ecosystem structure
.
Secondly, it enhances the agrobiodiversity multiple functions such as in the management of
detrimental ins
ects, pests, diseases and weeds (Igbozurike, 2007). M
ixed cropping enhances
14


species
complementariness

which is very important in the preservation of

genetic species and
agroecosystem diversity of mixed cropping is due to a diversity of plants with
complementariness is how different species cope with the, extremes of climate.

R
ural farmers employ religion and traditional sanctions and some taboos as we
ll as
establishment and preservation of sacred grooves as indigenous agrobiodiversity conservation
technologies
.
A
nthropol
ogical research studies have

revealed that traditional methods of
conserving agrobioresrouces in the pre
-
colonial Nigeria were wrapped

up in religious,
superstitious beliefs and traditional taboos. These however, were geo
-
culture specific (NEST,
2001).

Traditional methods of conserving natural vegetations such as reserving certain areas for
religious purposes, prohibiting firewood colle
ction from certain areas and in certain clays or
stipulating only seasonal collections of natural products from f
orests arc largely in vogue in
most Akwa Ibom communities, Also sanctions are adopted in the regulating of traditional
farming practices where
distinguished farming areas are protected from haphazard
exploitation, This benign system of agrobiodiversity conservation though have largely
succumbed to the pressures of increased population and modernization still prevail in some
communities in the Sta
te. However, bearing in mind the fact that these knowledge and
conservation practices are still relevant to contemporary agrobiodiversity management
especially in terms of scientific insight they provide, efforts are needed to promote and
integrate them in
to modern agro
-
resource management systems. Before then, these
indigenous knowledge’s and resource management patterns should be examined to understand
15


the problems of agrobiodiversity loss and how they (local system) can be adapted to modern
needs while s
till retaining the agroecological diversity of agroecosystem.

The findings on the adoption of a planned grazing and browsing pattern and establishment and
maintenance of rangeland with diverse forage crop species indicated (that most farmers in the
State
do not adopt these patterns of agrobiodiversity management system (X > 2.50
.

N
EST
(2001) and BOSTID (2002)

confirmed that the adoption of this pattern of agroresource
conservat
ion is mostly prevalent in

localities where large scale pastoralism exist both o
n
nomadic and sedentary basis
. F
armers in Akwa Ibom State although keep livestock at
subsistence
level, are

mostly arable crop farmers rather than pastoralists. Nevertheless the
agrobiodiversity conservation patterns in consideration represent the principal form of
rangeland utilization and conservation of agrobiodiversity of forage crop source. They are
mostly

practiced in the northern states of Nigeria where the principal types of pastoralism
prevail. The system is adjured a diversity conservation practice among traditional farmers based
on the fact that indiscriminate grazing is agrobiodiversity destructive.

This

can

adversely affects
important soil biodiversity and directly eliminates diverse plant and forage species and frustrate
the regenerative processes in others. The traditional forage management technologies of
planned graving and browsing pattern and
maintenance of diverse species of forage crops in
the rangeland is a way out as they alleviate these environmental degradations promoting the
conservation of agrobiodiversity of forage crop resource.

The result of the hypothesis showed a significant gende
r disparity with regard to indigenous
agrobiodiversity practices adopted in the State. The establishment and preservation of sacred
16


groove and imposition of traditional sanctions regulating the cultivation and destruction of
some valued plant species are n
ot employed by most women rural farmers in the State. This
finding
agrees with

empirical studies

reported elsewhere
(Wormald, 2004
;
Wilson,

2000
;
WCMC,

2002).

This trend could be attributed to the discriminatory disposition of the society against women. In

Nigerian society in general and Akwa Ibom State in particular, women were and are still held in
no higher regard in some communities. Also, some Akwa Ibom cultures systems assign
tr
aditional sex roles to which are

mutually exclusive to female and males. A
s a result, such
activities are branded abnormal to females including the right to impose, invoke and
enforce
.

Implications of findings

The implications of the findings

have far reaching socio
-
econom
ic implications on

food security
and sustainability, pove
rty alleviation, and crude oil exploration
.

Agricultural progress is the key to rural and national prosperity. The nation's food security
system can be built on
ecological security.

Ecological security implies the conservation and
sustainable management of

the basic life support systems of land and water, flora and fauna
and the atmosphere. It involves concurrent and integrated attention to all the components of
the biosphe
re including agrobiodiversity
. The study reveals that agricultural biodiversity
perfo
rms vital functions in agriculture, land and water use. The diversity of plants, animals and
micro
-
organisms is essential for maintaining the productivity and sustainability of farm crops
17


and animals, managed forests and aquacultures. Food security therefo
re is dependent on
harnessing and sustaining agrobiodiversity and its many functions.

It is generally conceived that

the security
of
agrobiodiversity is

under threat from human
lifestyles and patterns of agricultural, industrial and economic development and urbanization.
Population growth is exceeding the capacity of natural agroecosystem to support them on an
ecological basis. There is migration of rural

poor to towns and cities with abject abandonment
of agriculture. The ultimate implications are reduced food production, with consequent threat
of food security. There is need to reverse this trend. WRM (2001) raised the need to accord the
highest priority

to making development ecological sustainable
.


The findings of this study have

serious implications for the present poverty alleviation drive
of
the state
.
Therefore reducing

poverty

would require

accelerating equitable income group and
promoting access t
o the necessary resources technologies and education.

The presen
t poverty alleviation programme of

the government has man
y palliative strategies

some of which include the provision of soft loans to would be grass roots based small

scale
investors, educatio
n and

skill
acquisition training programmes.

There is need for poverty
alleviation programme to be focused on the poor rural farmers through credible grassroots
based organizations. This is because rural farmers have made unalloyed contribution in
protecti
ng and developing agricultural resources
-

in particular a diversity of cultivated semi
-
wild and wild plants used for food, fuel, and medicine.

18


Poverty alleviation should make provision for programmes that will support ag
robiodiversity
conservation and

ut
ilization of local agroresources. Village
-
based rural farmers' institutions
should be supported and encouraged. Successful poverty alleviation policies and programmes
focused on rural farmers will have double benefit. Firstly, their efforts in maintaining

and
developing food crops, medicinal plants and their wild and semi
-
wild relatives will make direct
and vital contributions to practical conservation of the State’s agricultural biodiversity.
Secondly
, such farmers form a large part of a growing rural pop
ulation
. S
ustainable
development of their systems of production is the key to improving food security, reducing
poverty and reducing its consequential effects of environmental degradation in general and
agrobiodiversity degradation in particular.

Conclusio
ns

Based on the findings of the study, it is concluded that rural farmers have developed over the
years complex management patterns for the conservation and sustainability of agrobiodiversity
in the state. Such indigenous practices include shifting cultiv
ation, agroforestry, mixed
cropping, imposition of traditional sanctions, and establishment and maintenance of herbaria.

The state government should develop innovative funding mechanisms to support indigenous
agrobiodiversity conservation programmes of rur
al farmers.
This can be achieved
by:

(a) Collecting special taxes on agricultural resources such as timber

extraction, wood trading,
trading

in crop and livestock products, and other activities connected with the sector.

(b) Building conditionality into co
ncession agreement for instance, in an area that has such
extensive
agroresource

as timber and fisheries, concession could be sold to private investors.

19


(c) Seeking more collaborators from the private sectors including multinational oil companies,
industr
ies and voluntary organizations.

(d) Allocating a substantial percentage of Ecological Fund for agrobiodiversity conservation
programmes

and projects of rural farmers.

(e) Allocating an appreciable amount in the annual state budget for agrobiodiversity
conservation programmes.

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