21 May 2019

Nigeria: Govt to Hand Over 9 Irrigation Systems to Sokoto Rima River Basin

The Ministry of Water Resources says it is now ready for the handover of nine Centre Pivot Irrigation Systems to Sokoto Rima River Basin Authority for agriculture development.

The benefiting states of Kebbi and Zamfara are to receive six and three units respectively, to improve agricultural practice in line with the federal government's Economic Recovery and Growth Plan.

The Director, Irrigation and Drainage with the ministry, Elijah Aderibigbe, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that this was also part of activities to deliver agricultural transformation and promote food security in the country.

He said irrigation practice was the mainstay of agriculture development, noting that Nigeria could not rely solely on rain-fed agriculture if it would meet its policy thrust of economic development.

He, however, added that other benefits of irrigated agriculture included the value chain addition through marketing and transportation in food production.

"The contractor handling the project has given us notice to handover all six units in Kebbi State, under the Sokoto Rima River Basin, and three units in Zamfara, which makes them nine units.

"By next week, additional two will be ready, which will significantly help our beneficiaries to use them for food production and food security in the country."

He said with the provision of funds from the National Resources Development Fund and budgetary allocations, the project had been completed and ready for handover to the beneficiary river basin.

According to him, on completion of projects, contractors were given their certificates and paid, adding that some incurred debts by the ministry had also been cleared.

He said with the security challenge in some states, vandalisation of some irrigation infrastructure had occurred, with some persons carting away tyres, iron parts, among others.

He called on benefiting states to take ownership of the projects and ensure that security of water infrastructure was made a top priority.

According to him, participatory irrigation concept will help to promote sustainability of the projects.

Mr Aderibigbe urged the river basins to speedily build perimeter fences to protect the infrastructure, urging state government and communities to protect such systems.

He said the National Committee on Irrigation was working to harmonise all action plans to reposition irrigation practice in the country, saying this would also be a way to promote food security.

"We are planning to hold a National Irrigation forum to brainstorm with irrigation professionals to chart a way forward for irrigation development in Nigeria."

He called for peacebuilding to enable farmers cultivate and contribute their quota to national development, saying with continued insecurity, nothing would be achieved.

The director expressed appreciation to the President Muhammadu Buhari for repositioning the Water Resources sector, calling for the reappointment of Suleiman Adamu as the minister.

"I am not a politician, but I can say that the minister has not shown eye service, but has been very committed to repositioning the sector, he has also put sustainability plans in place."

NAN reports that over the years, many different irrigation techniques and methods have been developed to accommodate changing environments.

Age-old surface irrigation still continues to be popular based on its simplicity and cost effectiveness but as technologies are changing, mechanised irrigation systems are becoming more and more appealing to producers, hence the Center Pivot Irrigation System.

(NAN)

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