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The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations has provided $350,000 in technical support for irrigation farming in Nigeria.
This is as a result of the Technical Cooperation Programme which member states enjoy through the sectors under the agency’s mandate.
During a visit to the Minister of Water Resources, Engr Suleiman Adamu, FAO Country Representative, Fred Kafeero, stated that the FAO made the money available following the request of the minister to increase and promote irrigation farming, especially in Niger State.
Recapitulating on the availability of FAO in interfacing with the ministry on regular basis, Kafeero expressed that this was aimed at achieving food security and enhancing economic growth in Nigeria.
In his words, “Today we want to talk a little about the technical cooperation program which FAO has been discussing with the Ministry for some time and for which we managed to set aside $350,000 as part of our technical assistance to the request that was made by the minister to increase and promote irrigation farming.
“We also have got activities that we do in the area of crop and livestock to ensure that farmers are able to produce all year round and that farmers livestock get water for use, and therefore the way we manage these resources is very important and that’s why we need to strengthen our cooperation,” he added.
On his part, the Deputy FAO Country Representative, Suleiman Abubakar, clarified that the Technical Cooperation Program was normally internal affairs or resources that are set aside to support the request of member countries, specifically the governments addressing technical issues or releasing any constrain to sectors linked to FAO’s areas of mandate.
He said, “Normally, these amounts are not much in terms of quantity but it would provide support to either demonstrate some technologies as in the case of the current technical cooperation program that we are developing with the Ministry of Water Resources in the area of drip irrigation system.
“This has been identified by the irrigation department of the Ministry as an innovative approach to promote access to irrigation facilities particularly for smallholder farmers and also to building institutional capacity to existing River Basin authorities that have the mandate as well to promote access to water for agriculture and agro related production systems.
“The activities of the project include an appraisal or design review of the identified pilot project to benchmark existing performance efficiency of the scheme, carry out feasibility and detailed design reports for the implementation of drip irrigation system, support the installation process of drip irrigation facilities until commissioning and testing at project sites, among others.”
According to Abubakar, the project is for the identification and conversion of a suitable (and existing) public irrigation project from a flood-based irrigation system to a low-energy drip irrigation system.
Stating further, he said the concept will provide the opportunity to bring more land under cultivation utilizing existing irrigation facilities while also assisting the Federal Ministry of Water Resources (FMWR) efforts towards job creation and increased self-sufficiency in food production.