Irrigation is crucial to the agricultural development of any nation.

Repositioning irrigation agriculture for economic growth JOHN OBA writes on the recent decision of the federal government through the Ministry of Water Resources to reposition irrigation agriculture as the fulcrum of the nation’s economic development.

And this understanding has in no small measure strengthened the commitment of most countries to the development of irrigation agriculture.

Nigeria is no exception, as the Minister of Water Resources, Engr.

Suleiman Adamu, has assured that the ministry within the framework of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan of the present administration, is intensifying eff orts at positioning irrigated agriculture to the fore as the fulcrum for sustainable economic growth, poverty alleviation and job creation.

He said the approved Roadmap of the Ministry targets improving food production in the country and ensuring food security with the development of additional 500,000 hectares of land under irrigation by the year 2030.

Speaking at the recently concluded 24th Regular Meeting of the National Council on Water Resources in Akure, Ondo state capital, Adamu said the fi rst phase of this plan is attainment of 100,000 hectares of land under irrigation by the year 2020.

“Towards meeting this target, plans have been concluded to complete 29 numbers of viable on-going irrigation projects as well as bring on board new projects.

“Currently, feasibility studies are on-going for development of the vast potentials available in the Benue River Valley.

Th e overall long term outcome of the studies will be optimization of the land and water resources potentials of the study area with respect to water development for irrigation, while enhancing socioeconomic activities in the project area and protecting the environment,” he explained, He stated further that in line with the set targets for the sector, the Ministry in late 2016 launched the Graduate/Youth Empowerment Scheme, an agricultural scheme for young graduates in seven locations nationwide which include Kampe Irrigation Project (Kogi State); Integrated Farming Project (Abeokuta, Ogun State); Talata Mafara (Zamfara State); Kadawa Integrated Center (Kano State); Ogoja Irrigation Scheme (Cross River State); Agbala Integrated Farm Project (Imo State); Doma Dam Irrigation Project (Nasarawa State).

“Th is is a programme that mirrors the Songhai Integrated Farm Model and it is to be extended to the 109 Senatorial Districts of the Country and is being piloted by the River Basin Development Authorities.

“As part of the Ministry’s eff ort to boost food production, a memorandum of understanding was signed with M/S Powerchina International Group Limited for the overall planning and study of Nigeria Irrigation and Hydro-power resources,” he revealed.

He said the Kashimbilla multipurpose dam project with a height of 35m and reservoir capacity of over 500million cubic meters (mcm) was this year impounded and completed ready for commissioning.

Explaining that the project has a 60,000m3/day capacity water treatment plan to supply potable water to Takum town and Jato-Aka town in Taraba and Benue States and their adjoining communities and that this water supply scheme will guarantee healthy leaving conditions of the benefi tting communities.

“Kashimbilla multipurpose dam will also supply water for 40MW of electricity, irrigation, fi shery and tourism.

Th e irrigation scheme of 2000 hectares of farmland will boost employment generation and food security when completed.

He however lamented the lack of commitment of the state governments, saying many of the States are not keying into the completed dam projects constructed by the federal government.

“It is expected that when the federal government constructs dams to impound bulk water, the States should key in to construct treatment plants and conveyances pipeline to distribute the Monday, August 28, 2017 37 water to the end users.

We are optimistic that today’s meeting would proff er workable solutions to this problem in order to derive maximum benefi ts from the investment in the sector,” he said Adamu stated further that to address the problem of urban water sector and Water Agencies, the Ministry initiated a Programme of reform in 2004 tagged “Th e National Urban Water Sector Reform Project”.

“Th e project has entered the third phase with eight states of Kaduna, Ogun, Enugu, Lagos, Cross River, Rivers, Ekiti and Bauchi as major benefi ciaries from the World Bank total loan package of $770m.

Nine other States of Ondo, Kano, Jigawa, Gombe, Benue, Plateau.

Anambra, Abia & Bayelsa are being prepared for follow up investment.

Th e World Bank credits have been complemented by the French Development Agency (AFD) with a total credit of $111.

1m for Ogun, Lagos and Cross River States.

Another AFD credit of about $200m, is currently being prepared for Ondo, Plateau, Kano and Enugu states.

Furthermore, the African Development Bank is investing a total of $381M in Taraba, Oyo, Kaduna and Rivers States, while Islamic Development Bank is making investments of $121m in Kaduna and Osun states.

“Th us, over $1. 5b, credits have been mobilized for the urban water and sanitation sector through the reform program alone aside some grants that were provided to support the eff orts by the European Union, USAID and JICA,” he confi rmed.

Th e reform project objectives according to him are to improve access to piped water in the project states as well as make the Water Agencies fi nancially and commercially viable to deliver sustainable water services.

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