FAO, FG to promote drip irrigation for food security, water

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The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations and Federal Ministry of Water Resources will promote drip irrigation system to boost food security and better water management.

The Country Representative of FAO, Mr Fred Kafeero said this at the Inception Workshop of FAO Technical Assistance for Promotion of Pilot Drip Irrigation System in Nigeria on Thursday in Abuja.

Kafeero, who was represented by Dr Abubakar Suleiman, Assistant FAO Representative, Programme, said that the project was aimed at informing and sensitizing stakeholders.

He said that the idea was to employ efficient onfarm water management practices to produce more crops on the same land using less amount of water.

National growth LS

Kafeero said the workshop was coming at a time Nigeria was faced with devastating effects of climate change, associated challenges of declining natural resources base; and insecurity issues threatening food security.

According to him, the global freshwater is becoming increasingly scarce due to improper management, indiscriminate use and effects of climate change.

“Water scarcity and quality problems are therefore serious challenges to future food security and environmental sustainability.

“For us in FAO, the promotion of drip irrigation in Nigeria will provide an enabling and attractive environment that would attract smallholder farmers and other actors to engage in production of high value crops,” Kafeero said.

He said about 70 per cent of global freshwater consumption was used in agriculture sector yet water use in many countries especially Africa was below 50 per cent.

“FAO forecasts that in the year 2050, global water requirements for agriculture will increase by 50 per cent to meet the increasing food demands of a growing population,” Kafeero said.

The Minister of Water Resources, Suleiman Adamu said the objective of the workshop was to familiarize and sensitize stakeholders on the benefit of drip irrigation system and its promotion through players.

Adamu, represented by a director, Emmanuel Olusola, said addressing these challenges would necessitate a critical shift from improper management practice to a more sustainable land and water management approach.

He said the project would be a pilot programme aimed at providing lessons that would guide replication across river basin development authorities in the country.

In her speech, Director, Irrigation and Drainage of the ministry, Mrs Esther Oluniyi, said the Federal Government was making effort to promote food security and sustainable water management.

According to Oluniyi, the programme is a pilot initiative to compare low energy drip based irrigated system to flood based irrigated system in order to come up with irrigation parameters.

She said the FAO had expressed support through technical cooperation programme to promote 20 hectares to 25 hectares pilot drip irrigation system.

Oluniyi said this had started with the identification of land for the project.

The national president of All Farmers Association of Nigeria, Mr Kabir Ibrahim who was represented by Mr Daniel Okafor said irrigation was key in promoting food security in the country.

According to Ibrahim, the drip irrigation system will offer limitless opportunities for smallholder farmers in enhancing their productivity by engaging in all year round farming activities. (NAN)

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