Akwa Ibom is an oil-producing state located in the southern part of Nigeria. While oil production has been the mainstay of the state’s economy for decades, agriculture remains an important sector, providing employment and income for a significant portion of the population. Akwa Ibom is blessed with fertile soils, favourable climatic conditions, and immense agricultural potential. The key agricultural products driving the state’s economy include:
Cassava is a major staple food crop in Akwa Ibom and is widely cultivated across the state. The state produces over 3 million metric tonnes of cassava annually, making it one of the top cassava-producing states in Nigeria.
The cultivation of cassava in Akwa Ibom is usually done by smallholder farmers, with average farm sizes ranging from 0.5 to 5 hectares. Improved varieties of cassava introduced by the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) and the National Root Crops Research Institute (NRCRI), such as TMS 30572, TMS 4(2)1425, and NR 8082, have been widely adopted by farmers, leading to increased cassava yields per hectare. Cassava is processed into various products like garri, fufu, tapioca, and starch, which are consumed locally and supplied to other parts of Nigeria. The cassava value chain provides employment and income-earning opportunities for many people in rural and urban areas of Akwa Ibom.
Rice is emerging as a major agricultural product in Akwa Ibom State. Though rice has been traditionally cultivated at the subsistence level, recent government initiatives have led to expanded rice production to meet growing local demands. The implementation of the Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP) by the Central Bank of Nigeria in Akwa Ibom has enabled smallholder farmers to access credit, improved seeds, fertilisers, and extension services for rice cultivation.
Rice production in Akwa Ibom is concentrated in local government areas like Uyo, Ikono, Ini, and Ikot Abasi. According to the Akwa Ibom State Ministry of Agriculture, the state now produces over 45,000 metric tonnes of rice annually, up from less than 10,000 metric tonnes five years ago. In 2018, the Africa Rice Centre estimated Akwa Ibom’s rice cultivation area at 15,000 hectares. Local rice varieties like ITA 150, ITA 257, and FARO 60 are commonly grown in the state. The increased rice output in Akwa Ibom has led to the emergence of numerous small-scale rice mills, providing employment to youths.
Akwa Ibom is a major producer of oil palm in Nigeria. The state has abundant groves of native oil palm trees, which have been an important economic crop for centuries. Apart from the native groves, there are large-scale oil palm plantations established during the second half of the 20th century by the Nigerian Institute for Oil Palm Research (NIFOR). These plantations are located in local government areas like Ibesikpo Asutan, Mkpat Enin, Eastern Obolo, and Ikot Abasi.
The state produces over 150,000 metric tonnes of palm oil annually, in addition to large quantities of palm kernel oil and palm kernel cake. Smallholder farmers harvest fresh fruit bunches from both wild groves and organised plantations for sale to local palm oil mills. The waste product from oil extraction, palm kernel cake, is widely used as a livestock feed supplement by poultry farmers. The oil palm industry provides income and employment for thousands of people involved in the production, processing, and marketing of oil palm products.
Maize is an important cereal crop cultivated across all 31 local government areas of Akwa Ibom State. Both local and improved high-yielding maize varieties like OBA 98, OBA SUPER 2, and TZPB SR are grown by farmers. Maize thrives well in the state due to favourable rainfall distribution and suitable soils.
About 105,000 hectares of land are under maize cultivation annually in Akwa Ibom state, producing over 450,000 metric tonnes. The major maize-producing local government areas are Oruk Anam, Ikono, Ini, Itu, and Ibiono Ibom. Most of the maize produced is consumed locally as human food and animal feed. The growing poultry industry in Akwa Ibom relies on maize as the major feed component. Maize farming provides income for rural farming households and also supports agro-processing enterprises in the state.
Cocoyam is a common staple food crop grown in Akwa Ibom. The major cocoyam-producing areas are Ikono, Ini, Itu, Ibiono Ibom, Ikot Ekpene, and Oron local government areas. The predominant cocoyam varieties cultivated are white cocoyam (Xanthosoma sagittifolium) and yellow cocoyam (Colocasia esculenta).
According to estimates from the Akwa Ibom ADP, the state produces about 740,000 metric tonnes of cocoyam annually, cultivated on about 182,000 hectares of land. Cocoyam has been an integral part of the local food culture and other delicacies. The high market demand for cocoyam ensures profitable returns for farmers focused on cocoyam cultivation. Soil management practices like mulching and cover cropping are employed by farmers to sustain long-term cocoyam production.
Plantain is an important multi-purpose starchy staple crop grown in Akwa Ibom. The major plantain-producing areas are riverine local government areas like Oron, Mbo, Urue Offong Oruko, Okobo, and Eastern Obolo. The prevalent plantain varieties grown are false horn, French clair, and giant false horn plantains.
According to estimates from the Akwa Ibom ADP, about 289,000 metric tonnes of plantain are produced annually from over 50,000 hectares of farmland. Plantain farming provides a major source of livelihood for rural dwellers along riverine areas who supply bunches to urban markets within and outside Akwa Ibom. Waste from plantain processing supports small-scale livestock production through use as animal feed. Products like plantain crisps, chips, and flour have also emerged as popular value-added offerings.
Akwa Ibom State has a suitable climate and environment, supporting the cultivation of diverse fruits, vegetables, and ornamental crops. Key horticultural crops produced in the state include pineapple, watermelon, cucumber, tomato, okra, pepper, onion, Amaranthus (green), fluted pumpkin, bitter leaf, avocado pear, mangoes, oranges, and coconut. These crops provide essential micronutrients, vitamins, and minerals for balanced nutrition. According to data from ADP, about 300,000 metric tonnes of assorted fruits and vegetables are produced annually in Akwa Ibom.
Pineapple production is concentrated in local government areas like Ikono, Ini, Ika, and Itu, which offer favourable soil and climatic conditions. Over 100,000 metric tonnes of pineapples are produced annually, mostly by smallholder farmers. Ikono is also notable for large-scale watermelon cultivation along the Cross River basin, which supplies fruits across Nigeria. Vegetable production is widespread, serving urban markets in Uyo, Ikot, Ekpene, Eket, and other major towns. The horticultural sector provides income for rural women and youth engaged in production and marketing.
Livestock production is an integral part of the agricultural economy of Akwa Ibom State. The major livestock reared include poultry, goats, sheep, and cattle. Poultry production (broilers, layers, and local chickens) is the most commercialised livestock enterprise due to the high demand for eggs and chickens across urban centres. Over 5 million broilers are produced annually from numerous private poultry farms clustered around Uyo, Ikot Ekpene, Abak, Etinan, and Ikot Abasi. The West African Dwarf (WAD) goat is the predominant ruminant livestock breed raised by rural households and pastoralists. About 350,000 goats are reared in the state, supplying meat to eateries and restaurants. Sheep production is also gaining prominence, targeted at urban consumers and special events. Cattle are reared mainly for beef, though emerging private dairy farms are boosting the local milk supply. Livestock farming provides income for crop-livestock farmers, pastoralists, animal feed producers, transporters, and meat and egg retailers.
Akwa Ibom is endowed with a rich diversity of marine and inland water bodies, supporting both artisanal and commercial fishing activities. Key fish species caught include croaker, catfish, snapper, tilapia, barracuda, mudskipper, and shark. The state produces over 160,000 metric tonnes of fish annually, according to data from the Ministry of Agriculture. Artisanal fishing is concentrated along the extensive Atlantic coastline and network of creeks found in local government areas like Mbo, Eastern Obolo, and Ikot Abasi. Inland fish farming is also expanding, with tilapia and catfish widely cultured in small to medium-scale ponds and tanks. Fish provide about 50% of the dietary protein intake for the state population. The fisheries sector supports marine product processors, transporters, fish traders, input dealers, boat builders, and repairers.
Akwa Ibom has a diversity of agricultural commodities, driving rural economic growth and development. Cassava, rice, maize, oil palm, cocoyam, plantains, fruits, vegetables, livestock, and fish represent the major agricultural products powering the state’s economy. These value chains provide employment, income, and food security for a significant portion of the population. Agriculture remains a catalyst for broader economic diversification, poverty reduction, and improved living standards as oil production recedes into the future. Increased private sector investments, improved infrastructure, research, and mechanisation can further unlock the immense agricultural potential of the state.