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EFFECT OF URBAN LAND GROWTH ON AGRICULTURAL LAND USE IN LOKOJA PERI-URBAN
Background to the study
Land is a gift of nature to mankind and serves as a basic resource for wealth creation and human survival. Societal development depends largely on land use by individuals and government for various economic and social purposes. From an economic perspective an essential feature of land is that it is scarce and subject to competing uses. According to Wu (2008) land use is the backbone of agricultural economies as it provides substantial economic and social benefits which is necessary and essential for economic development.
Land use is related to the conservation of land from one major use to another general use (Nanvati, 1951). According to Lillesand and Kiefer (1987); “The term land use relates to human activities associated with specific piece of land, features present on the earth surface. Therefore, land use is generally seen as the various activities carried out by man in order to satisfy his needs. Land use can also be seen as a description of how people utilize land for socio-economic activity. Urban and agricultural land uses are two of the most common land use categories where land use for housing purpose could be seen as residential or urban use, while land use for farming activities could be seen as an agricultural land use. At any point in place, there may be multiple and alternate land uses for different purpose. The need for increase food production, residential settlement, infrastructural development and economic development has led to different changing pattern of land use due to human activities. Population growth and urban expansion are primarily responsible for changes in the land use pattern of an area. For instance, as population increases, construction of dwellings also increases thus engendering conversion of cropland and forest land to settlements
(Olaleye, Abiodun and Asonibare 2012). According to Cunningham, Cunningham and Siago (2005), rapidly increasing human populations and expanding agricultural activities have brought about extensive land use changes around the world.
Urbanization is a common phenomenon to both developed and developing countries. In developed countries, it is associated with economic advancement where urban centers are seen as engine of growth by enhancing rural development through creating market for agricultural products. However, in developing countries urbanization have positive and negative effect (Teketel, 2015). In Nigeria, as population increases, land becomes scarce. The growing population requires increasing area for agricultural production and, hence, large areas of forestland need to be opened up. As the rate of land area expansion falls short of the growth rate of population, land becomes scarce relative to labour. Urban environment belongs to one of the most dynamic systems on the earth due to heterogeneous nature of urban land uses with the consequence of rapid land use/land cover changes (Ndabula, Averik, Jidauna, Abaje, Oyatayo and Iguisi 2013).
Urbanization arises from an increase in population that put pressure on demand for more infrastructural development and residential settlements which encroaches into agricultural land use. Therefore, urban areas cannot economically, socially and physically be independent but have to be inter-dependent with the immediate rural agricultural environment located at the urban fringe for their food and services. Ndabula et al. (2013) states that land use in an urban environment and its attendant land degradation can increase cost of development and directly affect the urban poor who rely directly on the natural resources in urban areas for their subsistence. It is this encroachment on prime land that causes adverse environmental effects. Environmental degradation leads to reduction in crop yields and may reduce total factor productivity by requiring
the use of higher inputs to maintain yields. It may also lead to the conversion of land to lower value uses from agricultural uses and may cause temporary or permanent abandonment of plots.
Urbanization and changing socio-economic pattern are deriving forces that influence land use change in peri-urban areas (Jongkroy, 2009). Although multifaceted, the main cause of urban expansion is population pressure. Many cities are rapidly growing into their fringe, engulfing former villages and farm lands and transforming them into urban settlement. However, the principal reasons for urbanization and city growth are rural-urban migration, geographical expansion of urban areas through annexation and transformation and re-classification of rural villages into small urban settlements (Cohen, 2005).
Peri-urban areas denotes neighbourhoods, suburbans or villages abounding a city proper or characterized by a large urban agglomeration and active land market transactions. In particular it denotes the space economy between the city and its rural areas (Masanja, 2003). Therefore, rapid urban population growth means more people living in established urban areas, it also means more people living at the outskirt of these urban areas which form the peri-urban areas. As Kessides (2006) observes, urbanization involves the transformation of rural settlements at the urban periphery which become more densely populated and less dependent on agriculture. As a result of population pressure, rural areas of cities and towns are continuously converting to peri-urban status so that their land uses change from those dominated by agricultural to non-agricultural activities. The state of transition is characterized by interactions between the urban areas and their fringe lands so that the divide between rural and urban becomes very thin. This means is that, traditional (rural) farming activities come into conflict with alternative land uses that compete for the same land to serve economic, residential and recreational interests as households “ retain footholds in both the rural and urban economies”(Kessides, 2006:8).
Generally, urban expansion is one of the basic problems that affect the living standard of people and food security of many agrarian economies. This encroachment leads to the loss of agricultural farmlands and reduction of crops/food productivity. Therefore, proper use and utilization of land is essential for sustainable agricultural production and economic development in Nigeria. However, land resource is under pressure for development which makes it difficult for increasing food production. At the same time this causes environmental degradation which directly or indirectly affect the livelihood of the people living at the urban fringe.