Farmers in Okoro-Utip, Ibeno Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State, are raising alarms about the severe impact of oil spills on their crops and aquatic life. The distressing situation was disclosed during a community meeting with the Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF) held at the Okoro-Utip Community Hall on Tuesday.

The farmers revealed that they have been grappling with reduced crop yields due to the harmful contact of oil with their crops. Many of them, who had taken loans from microfinance banks, expressed disappointment with the meager returns from their crops.

Pastor AbasiUbong John, a farmer in the community, led HOMEF representatives around his farm and shared his concerns. He explained that cassava stems he planted over a year ago had yet to produce tubers, and the stems were already showing signs of decay. Additionally, all the vegetables on his farm had turned yellow, rendering fertilizers ineffective in improving crop health.

John lamented, “The oil that enters the farm will destroy the grass and whatever you plant, even if you apply organic manure, it will not work, not to talk of fertilizer. This oil drilling has seriously affected Ibeno people, impacting our soil and disrupting the ecosystem, including the absence of earthworms and millipedes crucial for soil aeration.”

Elizabeth Ifum, another affected farmer, raised concerns about the threat to public health, emphasizing that crops in the area could not thrive without the application of fertilizers, thereby compromising the well-being of the community.

Stephen Oduware, Project Lead at HOMEF, highlighted Ibeno as a significant hotspot for oil pollution. He encouraged the community to stand up and demand the rightful compensation and support they deserve in the face of these environmental challenges.

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