By Ismaila Chafe
President Muhammadu Buhari has received briefing on the Modular Irrigation System, an innovation that allows farmers to independently irrigate their farms without depending on river basins.
The Executive Vice Chairman/Chief Executive, National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure (NASENI), Prof. Mohammed Haruna, who briefed the president, presented sample of the innovation to Buhari at the presidential villa, Abuja on Friday.
Speaking to State House correspondents after the presentation, Haruna said a solar power pump had been developed to draw water from borehole for small scale and large irrigation schemes.
According to him, the system can be carried about and will enable individual farmers to irrigate their farms on their own.
He said: “The Modular Irrigation System is an innovation and invention for the agricultural sector.
“It is a process in which we have developed a scheme for individual farmers to be able to irrigate their farms without waiting for river basins.
“In that case, we have developed solar-powered pumping system; the water can come from a borehole, if there is no river or stream nearby.
“As a result, they are mobile equipment; the pumping machine and the solar energy supply is also mobile, a farmer can fold it back to his house and bring it to farm whenever he needs it.
“The good thing about the scheme is that we have demonstrated, working in collaboration with NIRSA (Nigeria Incentive Risk-based Sharing System for Agriculture), a parastatal of the Central Bank of Nigeria), that it is practicable to have three farming seasons in a year.
“So, that means a farmer can be engaged in his own activities without necessarily looking for an alternative employment.
“Three crop seasons in a year, that is what the Modular Irrigation System is. It’s a collaborative work between NASENI and NIRSAL.”
Haruna assured that the modular irrigation system would be widely available in the country for farmers.
“We want it to be nationwide, but the scheme has commenced from Adamawa State.
“The sample you have seen, pictorially and the video, is where we commenced as a pilot. We now presented this issue to Mr President and his directive is that in as much as possible, all farmers should benefit from this,” he said.
According to him, the target is to make the mechanism affordable to interested farmers across the country as the capacities are in sizes.
He said depending on the size of the farm, the farmer could take the least, the medium or the large size, or could acquire more than one, saying the costs will be varied
“Where there is a stream or river nearby, you don’t need to drill borehole, it means it can be pumped from there. Where there is none in the farm, you need a borehole.
“A large farm may require more than one borehole because of the yield. So, it is affordable.
“But as I say from the pilot scheme, because we have invested so much to have the prototype and deployed to the farm and see it, it has cost us more, but with intervention and some subsidies from Central Bank, it is possible we have a range of from N25,000 to the highest at N125,000. That is our target.”
Haruna disclosed that he also briefed the president on the progress of the helicopter assembly initiative embarked upon by the agency, saying that all the needed components have been received from Belgium.
According to him, engineers and technicians are now being trained for assembling process, maintenance and commissioning.
He said: “So far, the status of the helicopter now, we have received completely knocked down components from Belgium and we have trained our engineers and technicians on all aspects of its assembly process, maintenance and commissioning.
“We have also trained pilots, working with Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority.
“This helicopter has been fully assembled, helipad and other facilities in place, just very close here. It’s in our site in Karshi, Abuja.
“Ministry of Environment, Ministry of Aviation, Civil Aviation Authority and other agencies that have mandatory regulatory activities to do are carrying out.
“So far, it’s a successful project.”
He said he discussed “prefabricated technology” with the president, which he explained is a method of having building facilities, building materials of designed house, designed factory, designed classroom or laboratories, in which the materials are made of composite materials.
He further stated: “The normal architectural design of the house is done, everything is done on the ground and then these components are assembled together. Within three weeks, you can have a complete house ready.
“This is not new technology. It has been there in Europe, because of extreme weather conditions for long.
“It is now that we see it is necessary to acquire this technology, domesticate and use it to attend to the challenges we are facing, of rebuilding the northeast, even the northwest and anywhere.
“Originally, we acquired it only for laboratories, for quick installation of laboratories, both the building and the equipment from NASENI, but now with the existing challenges, it becomes necessary that we acquire this technology in large, so that rebuilding of our villages and hamlets can be faster.
“Even the other centres that we are building, this is the technology of today.
“The important thing is that 100 per cent raw materials to develop these composite materials that is fire-proof, weather-proof, are available in Nigeria.”
On NASENI’s partnership with state governments and the private sector, the agency boss affirmed that “it is yielding results’’.
He said “there are certain private sectors that have taken NASENI patented or proven products to the market and then for mass production.
“INNOSON Motors, GEOMTECH that is producing NASENI’s prepaid metres, Keke NASENI and now, we have two companies that have come up. NASENI is helping them to also have solar manufacturing plant, just as we have in Karshi.
“So many state governors have demonstrated interest by visiting our facility in youth skill development, in helping them harnessing what is available in the states, across the nation”.
On the National Tractor Rehabilitation, Refurbishment and Redeployment project, he disclosed that six states had so far committed themselves to it.
According to him, so far about six states are actively involved in the implementation of the laudable project, adding that the tractors repairs, rehabilitated, redeployed to the farms are actively working. (NAN)