Mr Peter Manjuk, Project Coordinator, Transforming Irrigation Management in Nigeria (TRIMING) Programme, has called on farmers to take ownership of all irrigation projects to enable Nigeria to meet its food sufficiency targets.
Manjuk said that it was important for the country to also reduce its absolute dependency on rain-fed agriculture.
He said that as the country’s population expanded, deliberate efforts should be made to revamp the River Basins Development Authorities (RBDAs) across the country.
The project coordinator said that the RBDAs would serve as the vehicles for the socio-economic development of the nation.
According to him, Nigeria must get it right, if it must meet its food production and food security demands.
Manjuk expressed regret that the huge investments in dams and irrigation projects had yet to achieve any meaningful socio-economic impact on the citizenry.
“Nigeria’s population is a fast growing; in order to ensure food sufficiency and food security, we cannot continue with rain-fed agriculture which has characterised our agricultural practice in the country. The contribution of irrigated agriculture has been very little and with our fast growing population, we cannot sustain ourselves in terms of food sufficiency and food security. We must revamp our irrigated agricultural practice and make it work in order to support our population and even to allow us to export produce. That is why we are calling on all farmers benefiting from the TRIMING Programme to take ownership of these projects; government alone cannot do it, they (farmers) must commit themselves to make it work,” he said.
Manjuk said that the TRIMING programme was an intervention designed to transform irrigation management and practice in Nigeria so as to boost access to irrigated lands, while providing institutional arrangements to manage and operate these systems.
He said that Nigeria could not continue to rely on old methods and expect benefits from the activities of the river basins, adding that the river basins were the implementing agencies of the Federal Ministry of Water Resources.
The project coordinator said that deliberate interventions were needed to restructure the operations of the river basin development authorities and tackle the problems that had kept them grounded over the years.
Manjuk said that the lack of sound operational and maintenance arrangements had been widely recognised as the most critical challenge inhibiting the service delivery of RBDAs in the irrigation sub- sector.
He said the Federal Government was also looking at the possibility of exploiting the hydro-power generation component of dams across the country, saying that this would be greatly beneficial to the populace.
He said that the TRIMING project would not only rehabilitate dilapidated irrigation schemes and expand them where possible; it would also address and improve the institutional arrangements, in line with global best practices.
TRIMING, a project of the Federal Ministry of Water Resources, is supported by the World Bank for the improvement of the management of irrigation systems via five schemes executed in five states in northern Nigeria.
The schemes are Bakolori Irrigation Scheme in Zamfara, Middle Rima Valley Irrigation Scheme in Sokoto State, Kano River Irrigation Scheme in Kano State, Hadejia Valley Irrigation Scheme in Jigawa and Dadin Kowa Irrigation Scheme in Gombe State.