Niger Delta University is born into a state (Bayelsa state) with abundance of natural resources that offers a variety of opportunities for profitable investment in nine economic sectors including agriculture, energy, fisheries, infrastructure, tourism, manufacturing, research, solid minerals and transportation. These have been classified into seven investment areas of agriculture, agro based industries, forest and agro-forestry, fishing, mineral resources, infrastructure and transportation and tourism.
The land and climate in Bayelsa support the cultivation of both food and cash crops. These include oilpalm, rubber, cocoa, rice, plantain, banana, yam, cocoayams, coconut, cassava, sugarcane,sweet, potatoes and pineapple. The Bayelsa state Government encourages investment in food production, especially the development of crops that thrive in the local environment like cassava, rice and plantain. Investment potential in this sector includes the development, production and marketing of these agricultural resources.
Rice Production and Cultivation
Rice is a staple food and the most rapidly growing food source in Africa. It also serves over half of the world`s population. Its production is facing serious constraints, with diminishing land and water resources, hence the current global initiative towards its sustainable production. The Niger Delta is one of the wettest places on earth. Most of Bayelsa, which occupies the central Niger Delta, is very wet, an indication of its suitability for the cultivation of wet rice. Bayelsa has a natural and environmental advantage for profitable investment in rice production. The floodplain soils back swamp soils and the mangrove swamp which are suitable for rice cultivation constitute about 7,134,68km (52.42 per cent) of the total land cover of Bayelsa.
Investors can team up with local farmers or public agencies. The Burma rice project undertaken by Agip illustrates the viability of such partnerships. Presently, few farms in small private holdings are operational. The major private rice farms like Otuokpoti rice farm in Ogbia local government area and the Akassa rice farm in the Brass area, which were providing popular and high -demand rice for the state and its neighbours, have lain follow for over half a decade because of financial constraints and lack of milling tools. The 1,200 hectare Peremabiri rice project established in 1958 by the Niger Delta Development Board and inherited by the Niger Delta Basin and Rural Development Authority has been out of use since 1992. At the moment, all rice consumed in Niger Delta states is imported. A major investment in rice production in Bayelsa State would obviously be a productive economic venture to cater for the growing need for the staple food by Nigerians, and allied industries as well as for export.
There is dearth of poultry products in Bayelsa State, even in the face of sky-rocketing demand for eggs and chicken, which are basic sources of animal protein. At the moment, Rivers and Delta State supply poultry to the open market and catering businesses. A great potential thus exists for the development of large-scale poultry farms in Bayelsa State. The few poultry farm that exist are smallholdings. Large-scale poultry farming to produce egg and broilers, as wells as turkey farming, feed production and marketing, would certainly be lucrative and economically worthwhile investments in the state. But such business would also have to overcome the challenge of common poultry diseases like brooder pneumonia, gumboro, coccidiosis and fowl typhoid.
The agricultural base of Bayelsa State is extremely rich. Food and tree crops like cassava, plantain, sugar cane, coconut, oil palm, African mango, rubber and seasonal food crops like maize and fruits, as well as timber, which are abundant locally and can, provide sources of raw materials for allied industries. This defines the need for agro-industrial development that involves the utilization of these resources in cottage and large-scale industries to serve local needs, and also for export. Along these lines, the potential exists for the establishment of a variety of industries in the state.
Food Storage and Export
This offers the opportunity to store and preserve excess production, especially for seasonal crops that are perishable over short intervals of time but are in high demand for direct consumption and as raw material input in allied industries. In the fruiting periods of seasonal crops, waste is inevitable as farmer’s race against time to dispose of their products. As much as this reduces threat economic valve of farmers produce, it also diminishes morale, puts a clamp on productivity and so affects the overall local food production industry.
The Bayelsa State government, in its resolve to join the international Alliance against Hunger, is interested in providing central storage facilities to cater for excess production in order to minimize losses by farmers. However, none is yet in place. Food storage and perseveration facilities would open up avenues for intense activity in crop production and increase the opportunities for exportation of crops such as plantain, banana, pineapple, orange and grains, which are readily available. With a steady source of power in the state, there are no peculiar or insurmountable challenges to this investment option.
Beverage and Fruit Drinks
The fruit drink/ juice industry can be supported by the increased production of various crops like pineapple, banana, pawpaw, African mango, cocoa, maize and coconut. Such industries are as yet non-existent in Bayelsa. Opportunities exist for small, medium and large-scale investors in this industry.
Palm Oil Processing
The oil palm tree is the most ubiquitous crop in this part of Nigeria. In Bayelsa State, wild groves of oil palm trees are the major source of edible oil. Indeed, Bayelsa State is a major producer of oil palm / palm kernel in the country. Government-owned and small individual holding plantations are also available. The abundance of this cash crop is a potential for investment in palm oil processing and allied industries in the state.
Palm oil mills
Palm oil processing mills would employ modern techniques for the commercial production of palm oil, palm kernel and kernel oil from the palm fruit. In some communities in Bayelsa state, the traditional methods of boiling and pounding to extract oil, and manual cracking of the nut to obtain the kernel are used. However the old screw –type hand –press device is still in use in small mills in most communities. Hence production is obviously limited. Large –scale production of palm oil requires modern tools and large capacity process in mills. The state government has stalled a 10/20 tonne /hr oil mill to take care of the processing needs of its 1000-hectare oil palm plantation in Elebele, Ogbia area. There is great potential for investment in oil palm production as the mill’s capacity needs at least over 50,000 hectares to satisfy capacity. There is a large capacity for exportation of processed oil palm products including palm oil (edible oil), palm kernel/kernel oil. But would also be lucrative to employ them as raw materials for the production of high demand products.
Palm oil association industries
Large–scale availability of palm oil and kernel is an attractive potential for investment in the production of vegetable oil, Detergents and soaps. The ban on importation of all classes of soap in the country in January 2004 creates opportunities for investment in this area, such as cream, pomade, industrial oils and industrial alcohol Crushed kernel provides feed extract for fish and poultry farming none of such industries presently exist in Bayelsa state despite the large consumer market.
Coconut processing and export
Coconut is moderately grown in homesteads in most parts of Bayelsa state; but most commonly in the Nembe and Yenagoa area. It is also cultivated in plantations and dispersed naturally by water; hence it grown in most riverine area and beaches. The coconut fruit is consumed locally and used for export.
Its concentration in Bayelsa state provides investment opportunities in the in the following area: the development coconut plantations; confecting industry production of coconut –flavored confectioneries; cosmetic industry, the production of cream, soaps and oils; export of processed product s/coconut fruits. By –product of coconut processing can also be used for feed in aquaculture and poultry farmer. Presently, the coconut fruit is yet to be utilized in any of these ways in Bayelsa or neighboring state.
Rubber tree is commonly found in Bayelsa state, with plantation mostly based in the Ogbia, Sagbama region. The lack of industrial demand for rubber in Bayelsa state has had a negative impact on rubber cultivation. However the current situation provides opportunities for investment in: the development of rubber plantations; rubber processing factories for production latex and glue for the wood, paper, leather products and allied industries. Rubber seed oil is used in soap and paint manufacturing, for production of soaps, liquid soap and alkyd resins for paint making. Rubber seed cake is useful as protein substitute in animal rations especially in poultry.
In the meantime, latex tapped from plantations in Bayelsa is sold for industrial use in rubber processing factories in the neighboring Delta state. A local rubber factory would have a steady source of raw materials within Bayelsa state.
Forest and Agro-Forestry Resources
The rich forest resources of Bayelsa offer opportunities for investment in three major areas, namely timber and non-timber forest products (NTFP), mangrove resources and conservation.
The freshwater and brackish water swamp forest, as the riparian forest formations in Bayelsa State, represent a rich ecosystem that is home to a variety of commercially important species of timber. Some of the more common include iroko, bau cotton tree, iron tree and mahogany. Forest timber supplies the building of construction trade, furniture makers and boat builders and chemical industries, as well as providing fuel wood and charcoal.
Saw dust is also useful for making particle and paper boards. Investment in this area is possible in the small medium and large scale. Presently, timber felled in Bayelsa forests are transported as logs either by road or bonded and float along the waterways to Port Harcourt sawmills in neighboring River State. Some is processed locally at small mills to feed the woodwork industry, timber sheds and the building and construction industries. A small amount of sawed wood is loaded for sale outside the state.
Fisheries and Aquatic Resources
Fisheries and aquatic resources are among the major natural endowment of Bayelsa. The demand for fish in Nigeria is rising due to the prohibitive costs of animal meat. Also, the active development of the fisheries sub-sector and utilization of the abundant aquatic resources guarantee high foreign exchange earnings and a positive impact on unemployment figures in the country. There is also the guarantee of a handsome return on investment. Three investment areas are identified under fisheries and aquatic resources, namely fish, sea, food and spin-off industries and aquatic plants.
The vast water resources of Bayelsa, where the sea, rivers, creeks, rivulets, lakes and swamps constitute a greater percentage of the total land cover, other enormous potential. Fish and sea food may not be quantifiable but their abundance is demonstrated by the successful all-year-round fishing in the state, thus creating a huge industry for both artisanal and mechanized fishing. However, presently fish production in Bayelsa is disappointingly low.
Current artisanal coastal fishery production is estimates at 70,000 tonnes annually but potential production is estimated to be in the region of 200,000 tonnes per annum. Inland fishing, including aquacultures is insignificant because of seasonal effects, inadequate participation and business development constraints. Opportunities in fisheries development thus clearly exist.
Fishery resources in Bayelsa State are exploitable for large-scale investment. Brackish marine and inland fisheries (including swap and lakes) produces a wide variety of fin fish and shekkfish species of high food value and commercial importance. Some common fish species available in Bayelsa waters include saltwater species like bonga sardines, shad, mackerel, jacks, Atlantic bumber and long neck croaker, freshwater species such as cat fish, tilapia and zilli. Investment potential in fish / fishing include commercial large-scale fishing / trawling, deep-sea fishing , commercial aquaculture fish farming / pond development, fresh fish preservation, freezing and storage and export, canning for local and export market, fish oil and fish meal production. Presently in Bayelsa State, fishing in the brackish and coastal marine zones, and the inland freshwater is done by both full-time and part-time fishermen and women, including children. Full-time fisher folk are found in temporary or permanent settlements or fishing villages scattered along the coastline of the state and by the banks of big rivers. Local fishermen and women work from canoes using a variety of low tech fishing gear. In the brackish and coastal marine zones larger canoes or trawlers are used. Great opportunity abounds for large fish trawling and improved fishing methods to facilitate large catches.
Bayelsa State was created from the former Rivers State on October 1, 1996; the State is still a relative young Nigerian State whose infrastructure development has been in response to the pace of socioeconomic development. Presently the government is offering opportunities for private sector from participation in the form of individual investments and partnerships that, it hopes, will contribute to rapid growth and development. Investment opportunities thus exist in the areas of housing and hospitality, commercial infrastructure development and telecommunication.
The large influx of businesses in Bayelsa, especially in the oil, banking, communication, commerce, education ad civil service sectors, is increasing the state population which places an urgent demand on accommodation. Investments in real estate, for building of new homes, hostels, office complexes and hotels at strategic locations are needed. Although developmental necessities may bring a number of areas into focus of this type of investment, investors may presently target the state capital Yenagoa, brass and Amassoma.
Bayelsa also offers investment opportunities in telecommunications. More wireless networks, especially GSM, are required to boost the present local area network by NITEL and GSM network that operates in Yenagoa and other parts of the state to facilitate ease of communication and business growth.
It is well know that about 45.16 per cent of Bayels1s 12,000km square land area is covered by water. Boats from hand-peddled canoe, Terries and speedboats, are therefore the main way of moving cargo and people around. Marine y-travel is expensive yet in high demand as all local government areas can be reached via the waterways. The neighboring states of Delta, Rivers and Anambra are also accessible by water Bayelsa there is additional pressure to move goods between Port Harcourt and other neighboring commercial cities, as well as Bayelsa communities, especially Yenagoa.
The oil industry has also created the need for a constant and rapid transport system. The expanding tourism sector created an added demand making passenger and cargo transportation by boat a particularly high-activity area to invest in. in the meantime, the Bayelsa State government is looking into providing transport on designated water routers. But the need for more investment in this area is still urgent.
The prominence of the water transportation network creates a potential for investment in the boat-building industry, Canoe-building is a major craft throughout the state, meeting the people’s water transport needs, especially rural dwellers. The same can be said for ferries which have low fares and are regarded as safe. However, speed-boats, made with plastic and fiber-glass hulls are faster and preferred by urban dwellers and visitor. At present most of the locally made speed-boats used in the state are built by Almarine and Epenal boat builders, both based on Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital. There are two boat-building yards in Yenagoa but they are well-known. This leaves lucrative room for investment in speed-boat building in Bayelsa State.
The deep-sea channels of the Nun River estuary in the Brass area provide the potential for development of a modern seaport in Bayelsa State. During the Atlantic slave trade, when the Portuguese, Spanish, French and British made contact with the Niger Delta, Brass became a leading city-state in the region. Foreign Trades used its port in Akassa to ship slaves and subsequently legitimate produce. The inland waterways are also navigable by light sea-going vessels. With the growing development of the oil industry and Nigeria’s export drives, a seaport in Bayelsa becomes a necessity. Meanwhile, the government is privatizing national seaports, including those in Lagos, Calabar, Port Harcourt, Koko, Bonny and Sapele. This is an indication that private participate is sought in this economic sub-sector. Presently the Agip oil export terminal at Two-Brass serves as an export route for Nigeria’s oil.