For irrigation farmers at Tafoki village in Faskari local government area of Katsina state, the major threat to their source of livelihood is the depleting nature of the Tafoki earth dam which has provided them with water for farming since the last 30 years.
In its over 30 years of existence, the dam and by implication, the irrigation farming which its existence has engendered, is under threat as a result of the depleting nature of the water obviously occasioned by the fact that it was desirous of dredging.
Sources close to the dam confirmed to our correspondent that the earth dam, which was constructed in 1976 by the then Kaduna state government under the Agricultural Development Programme (ADP), has not undergone rehabilitation since under its construction.
Following the creation of Katsina state in 1987, the dam, naturally became the property of the state and had been the ministry of agriculture under the department of irrigation services.
LEADERSHIP SUNDAY learnt that the dam was originally conceived to support irrigation farming so “as to ensure all year round farming and serve as source of water for animals.” As should be expected, the dam has arguably, has supported both irrigation farming and served as source of drinking water for animals.
It was gathered that there had been no major repair or rehabilitation of the dam and its access road in the last 35years even though it was believed to have unquantifiable benefits to the people of the area and the entire state in general.
Findings by Leadership SunDay reveal that like most earth dams scattered all over the state, Tafoki Dam has been a source of drinking water for cattle and herdsman that transit annually from the northern to the southern part of the country. It was gathered that the dam also provides water for irrigation to over 10,000 people from states of Katsina, Zamfara, Kano, Kaduna and Kebbi.
Similarly, the Dam has been a source of livelihood for fishermen who trooped in from the other states to engage in fishing activities. Umar Garba is a community leader. He told our correspondent that Tafoki community has been witnessing the influx of people from the States of Zamfara, Kaduna, Kebbi “who come in regularly to either fish or engage in irrigation farming”
“The all-year-round farming and fishing activities have empowered the people of the community. The Phenomenon on urban rural-migration a has further been curtailed due to the opportunities being provided by the dam,” he added.
However, the enormous potentials of the dam is under threat as it continually witnesses deterioration due to long years of neglect and absence of proactive measures to ensure its dredging.
Engineer Mansur Lawal is an independent consultant. He told Leadership Sunday at the site of the dam that the dam’s embankment is desirous of rehabilitation. “The embankment slopes and dam’s height needs urgent attention this is even as the reservoir area is desirous of de-silting and removal of grass. The dam’s spill way needs patching of cracks and reconstruction of spillway channel,” Lawal enthused.
Findings by Leadership Sunday reveal that the Katsina state house of assembly had passed a resolution urging the state government to release money for the rehabilitation of earth dams across the state “in view of their enormous potentials to economic empowerment of the citizenry.”
However, irrigation farmers who spoke to our correspondent are worried that couple of months after the state assembly’s resolution, little or nothing has been done in rehabilitating earth dams that deserve rehabilitation.
Shugaba Almajir Adamu is the chairman of Tafoki Irrigation Farmers Association. He told Leadership Sunday that no fewer than 3,000 hectares of land gets cultivated each year at the dam site “but in recent times, we have started facing shortage of water as the dam is in need of dredging.”
He said the state government had been supportive of the association through the provision of fertilizers, insecticides and diesel to power the heavy duty generator which the state procured for use at the irrigation site but decried the lack of dredging of the dam, noting that “at the moment, we cannot use the generator because there is no enough water for it to pump.
“The crops we plant are dying due to lack of water. The dam is drying up so fast because it has not got the needed attention. We are appealing to the state government to urgently dredge the dam so we can continue with our normal activities,” Adamu urged.
Like Adamu, other irrigation farmers who spoke to our correspondent lauded the state government for the provision of farm imputs out appealed for dredging of the dam as according to them, the recent drying up of the dam was impeding smooth irrigation farming in the area.
However, the Katsina state commissioner of agriculture, Alhaji Musa Adamu Funtua told our correspondent that arrangements are being made to commence rehabilitation of earth dams across the state as part of measures by the government to boost irrigation farming.
Funtua who spoke through the director of irrigation services, Ahmed Inga said “irrigation farming has continued to receive attention by the state government because of our conviction that an all-season farming is possible and necessary to ensure food security and self-sufficiency hence the decision to accord priority to provision of imputs to support irrigation in the state.
“We have concluded arrangements to commence total overhaul of dams that are desirous of dredging across the state,” Funtua said adding “definitely by the end of the rainy season, we will commence work on Tafoki Dam and other dams that have been earmarked for rehabilitation.”