The Federal Ministry of Water Resources says it has began the implementation of the National Roadmap toward increasing the country’s irrigated agriculture from 100,000 to 130, 000 hectares by 2020.

The Minister, Mr Suleiman Adamu, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja in Monday, that this was part of the ministry’s plan to boosting food production and generating foreign earnings.

“I will say it’s work in progress, between now and 2020, we hope to bring an additional 30,000 hectares based on what we have on ground and other intervention programmes.

“When we are able to complete all the projects on ground, we will be able to get 130,000 hectares by 2020.

‘‘I think that is a good step, of course we can’t do much now until we get the 2017 budget passed.”

He further said the ministry had made some progress by bringing on board a National Irrigation and Drainage Policy, which was non-existent, saying the policy was approved by the Federal Executive Council (FEC) in 2016.

According to him, the formulation of the roadmap meant to run for 15 years, will be implemented with deliberate focus on completing major abandoned projects by the previous administration.

The minister said the ministry had received an approval from FEC to bring on board another 2, 000 hectares of the abandoned irrigation centre in Gari, feeding Jigawa and Kano states.

He expressed, however, expressed dismay over the large number of abandoned projects.

Adamu said the ministry had also carried out studies where irrigation facilities could be provided with results expected by the end of 2017.

He cited the Benue Basin, Dongai-Suntai and the Nasarawa areas as possible locations for such facilities.

He said Federal Government’s target was to ensure that by 2030, Nigeria would have been practicing over 500, 000 hectares of irrigated farming.

According to him, irrigation is an ongoing process, adding that as time goes, the country will have more hectares for the project.

He also said the Ministry compelled the management of the River Basin Development Authorities to lay more emphasis on opening more land for the development of irrigation facilities.

He said that the budgets of the authorities were now focused on agriculture and irrigation.

The minister gave assurance that there would be no distortions when the budget comes out.

Adamu said the ministry was de-emphasising issues of erosion, installations of streetlights and provisions of furniture among others in river basins.

Adamu expressed delight that the Transforming Irrigation Management in Nigeria (TRIMING) programme, supported by the World Bank, would help in rehabilitating irrigation schemes toward promoting food security and all year round farming.

He urged all water users in these irrigation schemes to do more to protect the schemes, saying the era of enjoying free facilities was over.

The minister called on communities where the water projects were cited to take ownership of them toward ensuring sustainable agriculture development, stressing that government alone could not provide and protect the projects. (NAN)

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