The study was undertaken to examine the effect of land degradation on agricultural activities in Ethiope East Local Government Area of Delta state. A multi-stage random sampling technique was used to select six communities mostly affected by land degradation and a total of sixty respondents (farmers) was use for the study. A structured interview schedule was used in collecting data from the respondents. Frequency counts, percentages, charts and mean statistics were used to analyze objectives 1, 2, 3, and 4. The result of the study revealed that greater percent of respondents were females, married and educated with an average age of 53.7 years. The average farming experience of the respondents was 18.9 years, family size of 7 and farm size of 1.2 hectares. The major perceived cause of land degradation in the area includes pollution, fire outbreak, unstable agricultural practices, oil spillage and oil exploration. The major perceived effects of land degradation include decrease in farmland available for cultivation, reduction in farm yield (output), reduction in farmer’s income and loss of nutrients/organic matter. Based on the major findings, of the study it was recommended that awareness campaign on the proper use of agricultural land should be mounted at all levels and government should prevail on oil companies to pay compensation for farm lands lost due to oil spillage and exploration. Additionally, mopping up of oil spills should be enforced so as to punish the indiscriminate use of land, like bush burning, deforestation and so on.
Land is the basic natural resource that provides habitat and sustenance for living organisms, as well as being a major focus of economic activities. (UNEP 2006). Africa is endowed with enough land to undertake small and large-scale activities to strengthen household security, national development, transboundary cooperation and regional integration to transform trade, and create new opportunities for sustainable development which is sensitive to the environment and social economic issues (Bangladesh, 2001). There are however, many threats and challenges which continue to undermine such progress limiting its potential. These include pandemics such as HIV/AIDS, climate variability and change, extreme weather events such as drought and floods, ineffective land-use planning, land degradation and desertification, invasive alien species, limited or weak governance systems, corruption and greed, armed conflict and the attendant overexploitation of natural resources, limited foreign direct investment, Limited domestic investment and wasted opportunities, loss of revenue due to leakage in sectors such as tourism are also important factors (Mryka, 2008).
Degradation of land refers to loss of its potential production capability as a result of degradation of soil quality and also its loss for effective use.
According to Global Environment Facility (GEF 2003), Land degradation is defined as any form of deterioration of the natural potential of land that affects ecosystem integrity either in terms of reducing its sustainable ecological productivity or in terms of its active biological richness and maintenance of resilience. It is the loss of utility of land or the decline in soil quality caused through misuse by human (Barrow, 1992).
Furthermore, UNCCD defines land degradation as a reduction or loss in arid semi-arid and dry sub-humid areas of the biological or economic productivity and complexity of rain-fed cropland, irrigated cropland, range land pasture, forest, and woodlands resulting from land uses or from a process or combination of processes, including processes arising from human activities and habitation patterns such as:
Land degradation is one of the worst environmental problems facing many people worldwide. According to UNCCD (2009), over 250 million people are directly affected by land degradation. It is a worldwide phenomenon substantially affecting productivity in over 80 countries or all continents, except Antarctica. Land degradation is especially serious in Africa where 36 countries face dryland degradation or desertification, land degradation adversely affects the ecological integrity and productivity of about 2 billon hectares or 23% of landscapes under human use. Agricultural lands in both dryland and forest areas have been most severely affected by land degradation. They cover about one-fourth of the world’s total land area and account for 95% of all animal and plant protein and 99% of calories consumed by human, about two-thirds of agricultural land has been degraded to some extent during the last 50 years (GEF, 2003).
In addition, one billion people in over 100 countries are at risk, these people include many of the world's poorest most marginalized and politically weak citizens and over 40 million are affected in Nigeria.
The intensification of the use of fragile and marginal ecosystems has led to progressive degradation and continued desertification of marginal agricultural lands. Even in areas of normal rainfall, it is feared that the damage by drought and population pressure may have resulted in the genetic loss of a vast array of valuable plant species. Pressure on the dwindling resources in the arid prone areas has resulted in a number of devastating socio-political and sectarian conflicts in the country with concomitant death, injury and heavy economic losses.
In Bangladesh, the topsoil degrades due to natural processes and human activities, the functional capabilities of soil deteriorate from activities related to agriculture, forestry, and industry. On the other hand, urban sprawling and infrastructure development cause loss of available agricultural land. Natural events such as cyclones and floods cause land loss and can also deteriorate functional capabilities of soil.
Land degradation in the coastal area results from unplanned land use as well as intrusion of saline water. Therefore, solving or minimizing land degradation problems should be based on multi-sectored multi-layered, yet integrated approaches.
Some of the causes of land degradation as noted by Ukpong (1994) include: Improper resource management, destructive logging of our forest, overgrazing and over-cropping of arable lands, flooding and wind erosion menace, strip mining in some parts of Nigeria, land degradation with pesticides and fertilizers, some known natural land slides, destruction of wetlands and marches for development. He also identified other indirect causes of land degradation to include population growth and population influx, property ownership issues, lack of control, enforcement measures and jurisdictional overlap which are due to lack of authority and the use of inappropriate technology for farming and even for producing manufactured goods.
Land degradation typically occurs because of land management practices or human development that is not sustainable over a period of time.
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