Kano — For several decades, Tiga Dam has been a major source of water to irrigation sites in Kano State. The dam is seen as the state's oil rig for the simple fact that it caters for farmers and herdersmen alike.
The dam was built in 1971 during the administration of Governor Audu Bako in an attempt to improve food security through irrigation projects and also to put the vast agrarian land into use.
It is one of the biggest in the country as it covers an area of 178 square kilometres (69 sq mi) with maximum capacity of nearly 2,000,000 cubic metres. Water from the dam supplies the Kano River Irrigation Project as well as water for domestic consumption in Kano.
Similarly, the recent shutting down of the dam by the authorities of Hadejia Jama'are River Basin Development Authority (HJRBDA) has generated a lot of tension and fear among farmers and puts the entire irrigation system in jeopardy.
It was gathered that, to enable the authorities of HJRBDA commence repairs on parts of the dam, supply of water was suspended about three weeks ago.
The duration the repairs is taking, according to farmers operating around the axis, is unfavourable to their farming activities as many of them have already planted onions, cucumber, green pepper and tomato.
According to a farmer Auwalu Sulaiman Chiromawa, the suspension of water supply to farmers from the dam will no doubt negatively affect farming activities this dry season. He added that the decision by the HJRBDA was taken after farmers have already started planting.
"We were notified late, but we thought going by what we were told the repairs will only take two weeks. Our fear is that, it is now three weeks and we are still counting. Believe it or not this extension will only spell doom for farmers as a lot of our plantation will die," said Chiromawa.
A visit to Kura, Bunkure and Garun Malam irrigation sites revealed that the water canals were virtually empty. Farmers are forced to fetch water in buckets to irrigate their farms.
According to Umar Kubaraci, a farmer at Kadawa irrigation site, farmers in the site believe that what is happening is in line with the Transforming Irrigation Management in Nigeria (TRIMING) project which intends to implement the rehabilitation of the Kano River Irrigation Scheme (KRIS) and Hadejia Valley Irrigation Scheme (HVIS), located in Kano and Jigawa States respectively.
He added that their worry is that the repairs they were told would only take two weeks seemed to have spanned to a month or more.
Also, Kano State chairman of the All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN), Alhaji Abdulrasheed Magaji Rimingado reaffirmed the farmers' fears on the extension of time of the repairs.
He said the duration they were told the repairs would take has been extended, a situation that, he said, would be unfavourable to the farmers as it will only compound issues.
"Our members have already embarked on dry season farming activities, and as I told you earlier, we were informed of the repairs but the duration we were told the repairs will take isn't what we are experiencing now.
"AFAN members operating in this dry season farming activities are indeed facing a great threat and if the authorities fail to address this issue soon, the aftermath of the suspension will no doubt affect farm produce output in the state especially tomato," lamented Rimingado.
When contacted, HJRBDA's Public Relations Officer (PRO), Malam Salisu Baba Hamza, stated that the repairs on the dam's outlet was an emergency situation that required urgent attention, adding that all relevant stakeholders were informed and also public announcement was made through various media houses in the state.
According to him, the commencement of the repairs was to address a very critical situation.
"The repair was not even in our budget, but it came up at a critical time, that we had to seek for approval to embark on the repair to save a very serious situation.
"Work is in progress and within a very short period, supply of water will resume to all the canals; farmers should be a little bit patient as we are doing all our best to see that the work is completed in good time," said the PRO.