Expert Wants Irrigations On Flood Plains

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The Niger and Benue River flood plains have the greatest potential for  the establishment of  irrigation schemes, a top  government official has said.
The official made this known while speaking to newsmen in Abuja, recently.
He said that 1.8 million hectares of irrigable land lay in the flood plain of the Niger and Benue Rivers.
“ Flood plains are the best place to do irrigation; that has always been our argument; we have about 3.1million-hectare potential.
“And 1.8 million of that lies in the flood plain of the Niger -Benue River; that is the best place to do irrigation.
“You have to go back to the 1970 when there was drought in the north and those areas became dry and very little rain fell there such that people couldn’t farm.
“There was near starvation in those regions; so government decided to alleviate this drought problem by constructing an irrigation scheme so that they can continue to farm even if there is no rain.
“That’s what brought about irrigation project like Bakolori, Kano River and Hadejia.’’
The official also said that  these plains had been identified but not developed due to inadequate annual rainfall.
He noted that the country focused more on rain-fed agriculture, leaving out the economic benefits of irrigation farming.
“ What we have been doing is trying to produce foods to feed ourselves; we have forgotten that we can actually make a lot of money foreign exchange by exporting food.
“So, we are not making that effort to develop irrigated agriculture to the point that we will begin to export food.’’
He, however, urged Nigerians to buy into the irrigation farming, noting  that the country’s population was growing rapidly.
He underscored the need  to plan on how to feed the growing population.
According to him, some states such as Kebbi, Katsina and Zamfara were already partnering with the Federal Government in developing irrigation projects.
He added that the partnership involved the government contributing 70 per cent of the funding while the state contributes the remaining 30 per cent.
He, however,  said that efforts were being made to encourage other states to adopt irrigation farming.