Irrigated farming, key to food security — Official

Irrigated farming, key to food security — Official

Mr Adeyinka Adenopo of Federal Ministry of Water Resources says that for Nigeria to attain food security, conscious efforts should be made to reduce the country’s dependence on rain-fed agriculture.

Adenopo, who is the Deputy Director, Pressurised Irrigation System, in the ministry, said this on Friday, while speaking with News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja.

He underscored the need for the country to embrace all-year round farming via increased emphasis on irrigation farming so as to produce enough food and meet the food requirements of its population.

He reiterated the need for Nigeria to reduce its dependence on rain-fed agriculture, just as the Federal Government was making tangible efforts to diversify the nation’s economy.

“For Nigeria to develop the agricultural sector, she cannot continue to depend on rain-fed agriculture; we should not forget the fact that we are where we are today because we solely depended on oil, forgetting other resources,” he said.

Adenopo said that the ministry had realised that if the nation must attain food security, it must initiate deliberate measures to encourage irrigation agriculture.

He stressed that wet season farming alone could not meet the needs of agriculture, particularly in northern states, where the rainy season was relatively shorter with little water for agricultural activities.

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He said that was why the Federal Government began the implementation of the Blueprint and Action Plans to revitalise River Basin Authorities and reposition them to attain their full potential in efforts to stimulate food sufficiency and employment generation.

The deputy director said that if irrigation agriculture was fully adopted, it would also provide compensation for soil nutrient losses, while the water, which was hitherto wasted, would be put into more productive uses.

“With irrigation agriculture, Nigeria can farm all-year long, there are no restrictions, farming can go on; if water is readily available, all that a crop needs is water and land, it will survive,’’ he said.

The deputy director said that Nigeria could also have repeated crop production sessions throughout the year with irrigation, adding that irrigated farming would also reduce soil losses with controlled water on the soil.

He said that it was saddening to note that Nigeria had only 70,000 hectares of land under irrigated agriculture, in comparison to Brazil, Mexico, China and Senegal, where large expanses of land were set aside for irrigation farming.

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“As big as we are, we cannot compare ourselves with them; in Senegal, only one irrigation scheme covers about 130,000 hectares, and the whole of Nigeria is merely having about 70,000 hectares of irrigated farmlands,’’ he said.

Adenopo, however, said the Federal Government was intensifying efforts to promote irrigation agriculture in Nigeria so as to actualise the country’s plans to achieve food security and boost her foreign exchange earnings.

“That is why we are intensifying efforts in irrigation, so that we will be able to feed ourselves and also generate foreign earnings by exporting our crops,’’ he added. (NAN)

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