The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has provided a $350,000 Technical Cooperation Programme (TCP) to the federal government to help promote the drip irrigation system at selected irrigation schemes in the country.
The Country Representative of FAO, Mr. Fred Kafeero, at the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the organisation and with the Federal Ministry of Water Resources, said the gesture aimed to strengthen sustainable and inclusive food and agriculture systems in the country.
He said as a specialised agency of the United Nations, FAO had the mandate to ensure food security and nutrition in all its member countries across the world through sustainable management of natural resources including water.
Drip irrigation or trickle irrigation is a type of micro-irrigation system that has the potential to save water and nutrients by allowing water to drip slowly to the roots of plants, either from above the soil surface or buried below the surface.
Kafeero said the FAO remained committed to supporting the country’s economic diversification agenda and promotion of decent employment for youth and women in the agricultural value chain.
He said by championing the implementation of Sustainability Development Goals (SDGs), the UN underscore the the importance of water availability and access in ensuring food security and nutrition among other benefits.
The FAO country director, however, expressed hope that through the implementation of the TCP, Nigeria would be able to strengthen its agriculture and food systems by making them sustainable and inclusive while at the same time ensuring improved health and livelihoods.
He commended the ministry for leading in the formulation and implementation of the Water Resources Policy and championing irrigated agriculture for food security adding that this contributes significantly to the socio-economic development in the country.
He said,”We believe this will bring more youths, smallholder farmers and other vulnerable groups to engage in the production of high value crops through the utilisation of cheaper and simpler food production technologies all year round.”
However, responding to the gesture, Minister of Water Resources, Mr. Suleiman Adamu, commended the organisation adding that the
cooperation was key to achieving its ministerial mandate of completing all priority ongoing irrigation and dam projects.
Represented by the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Water Resources, Mrs. Didi Walson-Jack, the minister said that the intervention would
add between 20 hectares to 25 hectares of irrigated land to what is already in existence.
He said,”It will be bring us closer to our target for the year 2025, which is to have 270, 000 hectares of irrigated land.”
Adamu said,”For us, the project is very welcoming and we look forward to getting all the benefits which include not only irrigated land, but efficient farm water management.
“We are also looking forward to ensuring that we have a well-defined and tested template for the conversion of flood-based irrigation systems, to drip-based irrigation systems which in turn can be adapted for the 12 River Basin and Development Authority.”
The minister further expressed confidence that the project would enable transfer of technology as well as suitable for smallholder irrigation systems.
He said,”So, we see it as a project that would add great value to not only the work we do here in the ministry, but also to food security in Nigeria.
“I want to really appreciate what the FAO is doing and we look forward to working with you on this project and we are happy today to sign the Technical Cooperation Programme document.”