Federal government said it planned to cultivate 500,000 hectares of irrigable land for dry season farming as part of effort to boost food security in the country.
The minister of water resources and sanitation, Prof Joseph Utsev made the disclosure in Benin when he flagged off the 2023 dry season farming of the Benin Owena River Basin Development Authority (BORBDA).
The minister therefore solicited for the cooperation of state governments and communities to make land available to the 12 Basin Authorities across the federation to boost food production.
Utsev declared the readiness of the Ministry of Water Resources to partner with stakeholders to key into the president’s pronouncement.
He said the BORBDA had commenced the cultivation of about 700 hectares of land for this year’s dry season farming.
He said with the Clay Pot Irrigation System (CPIS) and Drip irrigation facilities available to the ministry and small holder famers it will help to boost all year-round farming.
“We are providing the water that is required to our farmers in line with the food security agenda of President Tinubu to try to make food available and affordable to Nigerians.
“I hereby call on other River Basins under the ministry to immediately commence dry season farming across their catchment communities and work with local farmers in accessing water to improve their farming activities.
“We have access to water which is critical to dry season farming, and we have the capacity and technical knowledge to assist local farmers, so I want our farmers to key into this opportunity in ensuring food security for the country,” he stated.
The minister also used the occasion to unveil the Hydrological Year Book 2021 and 2022 of the Benin Owena River Basin Authority.
According to him, “Hydrological data is necessary in planning, designing, construction and management of water projects.
“It is also important for flood and drought forecasting and construction of flood protection structures, given the persistent flood challenges experienced throughout the country.”
In his address, the BORBDA managing director, Engr. Saliu Ahmed, said the basin authority has installed meteorological stations in eight locations.
He also said that 10 rivers gauging stations have been set up to provide accurate data for proper water management.
According to him, “Some of the data obtainable real-time from these stations include: water level, temperature, pressure and discharge flow as well as wind speed, wind direction, barometric pressure, soil temperature, solar radiation and soil conductivity amongst others.”
The minister used the occasion to inaugurate the access road of the headquarters of the Basin to facilitate the smooth transportation of goods.