In line with the Agricultural Transformation Agenda of the present administration towards attaining food security, the Federal Ministry of Water Resources has indicated that efforts have been geared on reclaiming agricultural land in the wetland areas of the country to expand the cultivable areas for increased medium-scale agricultural production.
This achievement of the Ministry among others was made known by the Minister of Water Resources, Sarah Reng Ochekpe in her keynote address at the 22nd Regular Meeting of the National Council on Water Resources (NCWR) held in Kaduna, Kaduna State on Thursday December 12, 2013.
The Minister, who noted the importance of irrigation in boosting food production, added that the ministry views irrigation as key to the attainment of food security; due to the fact that irrigation has the potential of increasing the agricultural productivity by as much as ten fold. “Irrigation is also important, he said for employment generation and poverty alleviation in rural areas.”
Sarah Ochekpe further explained that with the current irrigation land potential level of about 3.1million hectares in Nigeria, only 150,000 hectares has been developed. Adding, there are renewed efforts by Government to accelerate the rate of irrigation development in the country to enhance food security, employment generation, poverty alleviation and reduce rural-urban migration.
She said that the Ministry has also signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to leverage the Transformation Agenda of the present administration and to address the issue of under – utilised and unutilised irrigation potentials in the country.
According to her, the Ministry has also received support from development partners, the World Bank and the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) to rehabilitate and complete existing irrigation projects as a strategic goal as well as ensure that all irrigation facilities are optimally managed through the Public – Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement.
She added that the Ministry is currently finalising the documents that would enable concessioning of the Gurara Irrigation Project to the private sector for operation and maintenance. She also called on States and Local Government Authorities to partner with the Federal Government in developing irrigation infrastructure in places where two to three dry season croppings, particularly in the semi-arid regions are feasible.
While speaking, the Governor of Kaduna State, Mukhtar Ramalan Yero represented by his deputy, Nuhu Ardo Bajoga expressed appreciation for the opportunity offered to the State to benefit from the Transformation Agenda of the Government in the water resources sector in through the actualisation of the Gurara Multipurpose Dam and the Galma Dam Projects. He described the achievement as part of the collaborative efforts aimed at providing sufficient water to the 150 million litres per day Zaria Water Treatment Plant and generating electricity for the people.
He confirmed that both dams have reached the advanced stage of completion and were designed to provide clean water for domestic use, irrigation farming and generating electricity.
The Governor, while acknowledging the commitment of the Federal Government to the completion of all water projects, said that the State Government has complimented the FG support to all urban and semi-urban water supply schemes with varied intervention funds to provide rural communities with clean water.
In his goodwill message, the Chief of the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Section of UNICEF, Kannan Nadar pointed out that the organisation’s partnership with the Federal Government has greatly helped to accelerate access to improved water supply and basic sanitation over the years.
He promised the organisation’s commitment and renewed support for Nigeria’s efforts to accelerate WASH coverage to also involve Community Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) across the country. The theme of the 2013 meeting is “Cooperation and Partnership Building -Toward Sustainable Water Resources Development in Nigeria”. Participants at the four-day event include: State Commissioners of Water Resources and stakeholders in the water sector.