FG urges states, LGs to use dams, reservoirs for food production

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By Tosin Kolade

The Minister of Water Resources and Sanitation, Prof. Joseph Utsev, has called on subnational governments to make use of impounded bulk water in dam reservoirs to meet the country’s food security needs.

Utsev made this call on Thursday at the opening of the 30th Regular Meeting of the National Council on Water Resources and Sanitation in Abuja.

He said the ministry was faced with challenges of non-utilisation of the impounded bulk raw water in dam reservoirs.

According to him, other tiers of government with the responsibility to develop downstream infrastructure are shying away from their duties in most cases.

He said to arrest this ugly situation, and realise the benefits for which these dams were constructed, there was a need for effective collaboration amongst stakeholders in the water sector, particularly between the 3-tiers of government.

“This, I believe, will holistically harness the rich potential and maximise the benefits of the huge capital investments in the completed dams, water supply, and irrigation infrastructure across the country.

“On this note, I urge states and local governments to leverage the available water resources infrastructure provided by the Federal Government in your respective domains for socio-economic growth and development”.

Utsev emphasised that irrigated agricultural practices played a pivotal role in fostering a robust Nigerian economy, constituting a significant portion of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

This approach, he added served as a viable intervention strategy to guarantee national food security and alleviate poverty.

The minister said that at the last council meeting in Sokoto, some incomplete irrigation schemes were completed and handed over to farmers for cultivation through the World Bank Sponsored Transforming Irrigation Management in Nigeria (TRIMING) Project.

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He listed the schemes as the Hadejia Valley 5,750ha irrigation scheme in Jigawa State, Kano River 14,444ha irrigation scheme in Kano State and the Gari 2,114ha irrigation project in Kano and Jigawa States.

“Developing irrigable areas totaling over 15,000ha is a key step towards transforming irrigation for sustainable food production and security.

“By handing these areas to farmers by the end of the third quarter in 2024, we align with the administration’s Renewed Hope Agenda, directing our efforts towards the ambitious goal of developing 500,000ha of land by 2030,”  Utsev said.

In his welcome address, Alhaji Bello Goronyo, the Minister of State for Water Resources and Sanitation, harped on the current administration’s steadfast commitment to food security.

According to him, following the recent declaration of a State of Emergency in Food Security, the 12 River Basin Development Authorities (RBDAs) strategically situated across the nation have embarked on extensive agriculture and irrigation initiatives throughout the dry seasons.

He said that the primary goal was to ensure a consistent year-round food supply aimed to enhance the well-being of the Nigerian populace and generating employment opportunities, particularly for the nation’s youth.

Goronyo said that despite commendable achievements by the RBDAs, concerns arose as Nigeria’s agricultural landscape, with its vast 3.14 million hectares of irrigation potential, faced imminent threats from land degradation, deforestation and rapid population growth.

Earlier, Rep. Sada Soli, Chairman, House Committee on Water Resources, said international cooperation was needed for improving water governance and food security in the country.

According to him, all tiers of government must do more by adopting sustainable water management practices, embracing inclusivity, and investing in climate change resilient measures to promote agricultural productivity and ensure food security.

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He stressed on the crucial connection between proper water governance and food security, saying efficient water resource management was essential for meeting the increasing demand for food across the nation.

Goodwill messages were presented by the FCT Administration, FCT Water Board, WASH Ambassador, UNICEF Chief of WASH among others.

The meeting’s theme, “People, Planet, and Prosperity: Promoting Water Governance for National Food Security,” conveys a central message advocating the adoption of sustainable water management practices, the embrace of inclusivity and investments in climate change resilience measures. (NAN) (www.nannews.ng)

Edited by Chijioke Okoronkwo

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