The federal government has urged the benefiting states of Kebbi and Zamfara to take ownership of the newly installed Centre Pivot Irrigation systems to turn around the agricultural sector and promote food security.
An official of the Federal Ministry of Water Resources, Adeyinka Adenopo, made the call during a visit to project sites to assess their functionality ahead of full hand over to the river basins on Tuesday.
He said the federal government is looking at the fastest means of achieving food security, adding that the need for irrigation agriculture had become imperative.
“We consider this a very short gestation means of irrigation, and actually all over the world, it is considered an efficient system.
“We are new in the technology in Nigeria, even though it is well advanced in the world generally.
“Our biggest challenge is manpower, operation and maintenance of the system, and of course, this is what we have been discussing with the contractor; the need for training of the people that will man the project.
“If that is done, then we would have overcome a very big challenge that it poses,” he said.
Mr Adenopo expressed the hope that the project conceived years back was being materialised, adding that with duplication of similar systems across the country, the dream would have been realised.
He noted that due to delay in agreement on paperwork, terms and conditions, the handover to the river basins was stalled.
Mr Adenopo expressed the hope that all technical work and modalities would be perfected.
Jerry Cunningham of Waste Management and Environmental Solutions said the centre pivot irrigation system was the latest irrigation technology to develop farmlands.
He said farmers could double and triple their yields in a sustainable manner.
According to him, this popular method has changed farming globally while its availability in the country would help to cultivate larger farm sizes for agricultural development.
“Here, we have not had much trouble, it’s just vandalism from the herdsmen with the cows.
” As long as you keep farming, you don’t have a problem, it’s when you let the green grass grow, the cows will come in, so it takes little more in security and management of the area.
“I think once the programme starts and you see all the community members out here working, it will make a big difference.
“Once all the farmers are working in the farm, the herdsmen will stay away,” he said.
Earlier, an official of Sokoto Rima River Basin Development Authority, Abdullahi Danmagaji, said sustainable agriculture development would be achieved with manpower development.
He said the basin authority was discussing with the Federal Ministry of Water Resources to ascertain modalities to train its staff on sustainable practices.
Mr Danmagaji said the communities would also be carried along to take ownership.
3000 farming households to benefit
He said that no fewer than 3,000 farming households would benefit from the 700 hectares irrigation system.
“Initially, our yield per hectare was four tonnes per hectare before the coming of this administration, but now, we are very proud to say that our farmers can produce as much as eight tonnes per hectare,” he said.
The Director, Irrigation and Drainage in the ministry, Elijah Aderibigbe, had said with the security challenge in some states, vandalisation of some irrigation infrastructure had occurred.
He called on benefiting states to take ownership of the projects and also ensure that security of water infrastructure was made a top priority.
Mr Aderibigbe said participatory irrigation concept would help to promote sustainability of projects.
“Some of the components of this centre pivot irrigation systems are being removed, they vandalise them, making part of it spoons while the tyres are cut in pieces as slippers.
“Meanwhile, all over the world, these are the systems that are called the low-hanging fruits.
“So, it’s really a problem, in fact the system should have been expanded all over the country.
“Technically, it is viable, but the ministry is a bit sceptical about it,” he said.
Mr Aderibigbe urged the river basins to speedily build perimeter fences to protect the facilities while state governments and communities should protect them.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the team from the Department of Irrigation and Drainage in the Federal Ministry of Water Resources was led by Mr Adenopo.
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