Acting President, Professor Yemi Osinbanjo has flagged off the $495 million rehabilitation of 8,000 hectare Bakolori Irrigation Project, sponsored by the World Bank in Talata-mafara, Zamfara State.
Osinbanjo, represented by the Minister of water Resources, Engineer Suleiman Adamu on Tuesday, said the World Bank was intervening in the country irrigation program, under the Transforming Irrigation Management in Nigeria (TRIMING).
He added that the World Bank had selected five major basins and sub-basins, saying that, “they want to improve the irrigation capacities because most of the existing irrigation require rehabilitation, the World Bank is investing $495 milllion, to rehabilitate the existing irrigation systems in Bakolori; Middle Rima in Sokoto; kano river irrigation project; Hadejia valley irrigation project in Jigawa and Dadinkowa in Gombe.
“It’s not just about irrigation; transforming the way we manage irrigation practice in the country.It’s supporting the water user association to farmers, we have some input to how irrigation systems are managed in the country” he added.
The Acting President said that with the TRIMING if completed will provide an addition of 50,000ha back on stream in the country.
“Here in Bakolori we are rehabilitating 8,000ha of exiting gravity federal irrigation system and another 5,560ha of what used to be sprinkler irrigation. With the energy consideration we have not been able to continue running the sprinkler irrigation system, so it will be converted into gravity feed irrigation system,” he said.
He said, the project will be a milestone for the ministry, adding that, “for the past two years we have been planning, we are flagging it off with Bakolori and the next one will be Kano River Irrigation Project were we hope to rehabilitate those 5,000ha and to Haejia Valley which was started over 30 years ago.”
According to the National Project Coordinator, Engr Peter Manjuk, “the TRIMING project was an intervention of the Federal Government of Nigeria through the Ministry Of Water Resources to transform irrigation practice to dry season farming for sustainability of job creation, food sufficiency, and food security to reduce property and increase wealth to the timing farmers in the country.
“The work will be completed as expected in the next three years and half. The project entails a complete overhaul and rehabilitation of existing 8,000ha and the conversion of the abandoned sprinkling irrigation areas gravity systems, which is 5500ha.”
Manjuk stated that by the end of the intervention, 13,500ha will be fully rehabilitated and equipped for successful and sustainable irrigation practice.
Reacting to the challenge of inadequate management of irrigation schemes in the country, he said, “the idea of leaving everything for government, the farmer don’t see this schemes as their own, and therefore little issues are left to deteriorate over time and leads to complex issues, which collapses the whole systems and the investment is wasted.
“The project will entail training and sensitizing the farmers for them to realize they own the scheme, and to operate and maintain them without the support of government. We expect that at the end we will not continue to experience deterioration. The farmers will take full charge of the responsibility of operation and maintenance.”
On levy for irrigation paid by farmers, he said, “its outdated for government agencies to go into the farms to collect irrigation fees from farmers. What the farmers need is to be empowered, confident in themselves to be able to manage their affairs and this farmers should be able to gather their fees and pay for board water supply to have this water when due.”
About the locations of the irrigation project, Manjuk said, “it’s a pilot scheme and is not lopsided, when successfully implemented the project will be replicated all over the nation, this are large schemes of government”.