In line with President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s commitment to address food security in Nigeria, the Federal Government, through the Federal Ministry of Water Resources and Sanitation, has launched the 2023 Dry Season Irrigated Farming initiative through the Benin Owena River Basin Development Authority.
The Honourable Minister of Water Resources and Sanitation, Engr. Prof. Joseph Terlumun Utsev, FNSE, FNICE, FNIWE, made this announcement during his visit to the River Basin Development Authority in Benin City on Wednesday November 8, 2023.
The Honourable Minister revealed that, as part of the ongoing assessment tour of Agencies and projects under the Federal Ministry of Water Resources and Sanitation, the Ministry is taking action to fulfill the President’s directive to cultivate 500,000 hectares of irrigable lands for increased food production in the Nation.
Prof. Utsev called upon all the River Basin Development Authorities (RBDAs) in the Country to commence the 2023 Dry Season Farming through irrigation and also urged States and Communities to make lands available for agricultural purposes in support of this crucial initiative.
He unveiled the 2021/2022 Hydrological Year Books and Highlighted the importance of their roles in planning, designing, and constructing water resources projects and infrastructure. He further informed that the books will be beneficial to policy makers, researchers and other Water Resources Stakeholders for infrastructural development and environmental sustainability.
The Water and Sanitation Minister also hinted that the newly inaugurated farm road during the familiarization tour, will enhance connectivity between the government and the people by enabling the seamless transportation of both people and goods.
In his remarks, the Managing Director of the Benin Owena River Basin Development Authority, Engr. Ahmed. O. Saliu, reported that the River Basin has remained active and responsive to the Communities in her catchment States through the provision of numerous Projects including Dams, Irrigation Schemes, Water Schemes, irrigated farms(Songhai Model), youth training and empowerment programmes as well as roads and rural infrastructure development respectively.
He further disclosed that the Benin Owena River Basin Development Authority is at the forefront of setting up a network of Hydro- meteorological stations in all strategic locations within the catchment States of the River Basin. He stressed that the Hydrological and meteorological yearbooks will serve consultants and all professionals who rely on hydro-met data.
Mrs. Mary Nwabuno Ononuju, the Executive Director of Agricultural Services of the River Basin, emphasized the Authority’s commitment to support President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s food security Agenda by embarking on dry season irrigated farming that will ensure more production and crop diversification.
She posited that the initiative signifies an essential step towards ensuring food security in Nigeria and demonstrates the dedication of the Federal Ministry of Water Resources and Sanitation to achieve this essential goal.
The highlight of the flag-off ceremony included the planting of seedlings by the Honourable Minister, the Managing Director of the River Basin Development Authority, the Director River Basin Operations and Inspectorate, Mr AJ Ochigbo and the Enogie of Oghobaghase, HRH Ileruwa Akenzua.