As food prices continue to soar, the Federal Government, disclosed considering drip irrigation for food production.
This was made known by the Director, Irrigation, and Drainage, Federal Ministry of Water Resources, Engr Esther Oluniyi, during an ‘Inception Workshop On FAO Technical Assistance for the Promotion of Pilot Drip Irrigation System’ located at Gari Irrigation Project under Hadejia Jama’are River Basin Development Authority, held in Abuja.
Oluniyi said it has become imperative to compare the drip irrigation pilot initiative with the flood-based irrigated systems, and others.
She said: “The Federal Government is making effort through the Federal Ministry of Water Resources to promote food security and sustainable water management for irrigated agriculture towards producing more crops per drop of water.
“FAO has expressed support through Technical Cooperation Programme, TCP, to promote a 20-25 ha pilot drip irrigation system, which started with identification of suitable land/site for the project.
“This programme was initiated by the Department of Irrigation and Drainage as a pilot initiative to compare low energy drip based irrigated system side by side gravity canal, flood based irrigated system with the view to come up with some irrigation parameters such as; volume of water use; quantity of drops produced; cost of power, cost of labour, and others.”
Meanwhile, in a goodwill message, the FAO Country Representative to Nigeria and ECOWAS Commission, Fred Kafeero, said the essence of the Workshop is on the heels of climate change that has hit Nigeria and other countries.
Kareero said, “The project is coming at an opportune time when countries including Nigeria are faced with devastating effects of climate change, associated challenges of a declining natural resources base and rising security issues threatening food supply, lingering loss of income sources among the population of agriculturally based livelihoods.
“For us in FAO, promotion of drip irrigation in Nigeria will provide an enabling and attractive environment that will bring more youth, peasant farmers, and other vulnerable groups to engage in the production of high value crops through the utilization of cheaper and simpler irrigation technologies that can be operated and maintained with very minimum training.
He also assured that FAO will continue to support and work with the Nigerian Government through its Ministries of Water Resources, Agriculture, Health, and Environment, aimed at reducing poverty, improving food and nutrition security as well as effective and efficient management of natural resources.
Also, in a goodwill message, the National President, All Farmers Association of Nigeria, AFAN, Arc Kabir Ibrahim, who was represented by Deputy President, AFAN, Chief Daniel Okafor Obiora, expressed hope in drip irrigation to be a game changer in food production as farmers are ready to adopt it as rain-fed agriculture is not really meeting demand for all-year-round farming activities.
“In order to sustainably attain Food Security, we have to augment as done in countries where immense progress in food sufficiency the traditional rain-fed agriculture we generally practice today with irrigation using not only surface water but groundwater, too, has been made.
“Drip irrigation system for smallholder farmers will enhance their productivity by engaging in all-year-round farming activities.
“To complete the Agricultural Transformation we are currently embarking on in Nigeria, irrigation is key and the workshop to promote the system is germane.
“We look forward to the availability of this farming system to our farmers”, he said.