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Water shortages disturb farming business

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By Mercy Kelani

Water is a huge necessity in the production of crops for farmers.

Yinusa Mohammed has been unable to pay the sum of money that he borrowed for his survival during the flood, in 2022, that ravaged his millet and sorghum farms in Zauro town of Birnin Kebbi. Based on the account, he was unable to plant, because he had no insurance, during the dry spell of 2023. This was caused as a result of water shortages, in spite of living and working in a society that do have access to water.

Consequently, the situation posed a threat to the farming and agricultural business of Yinusa Mohammed, which is responsible for providing support to his extended and nuclear family, and his ability to ensure payment of the loan that was given to him in 2022. This degrading way of life and livelihood is apparent among millions of small-scale agricultural farmers in the most populous country in Africa. In 2023, this year, the World Food Day was marked with the theme “water is life, water is food, leave no one behind.”

Many farmers have been forced to depend on rain-fed agriculture.

In Nigeria agricultural and economic system, the farmers have made it known that they were left behind, which has led to frustration due to the unavailability of water supply for irrigation, in spite of the billions of naira spent by the Federal Government of Nigeria for the provision of irrigation systems and construction of dams. The national president of All Farmers Association of Nigeria, Ibrahim Kabiru, said that the agricultural threats are visible in the unavailability of water supply and the lack of conducive environment for sustainable farming and agricultural production throughout the year in Nigeria.

Also, several dams in the country are currently dysfunctional, and irrigation systems are not functioning, despite the proposed increase in local food manufacturing. These challenges have forced farmers to use almost all their income on boreholes and manual irrigation systems. Also, many farmers have been forced to depend on rain-fed agriculture because they cannot afford the cost of manual irrigation. Hence, the situation ignites the recurring question of the significance of dams in the country. According to experts, the dams will reduce dependence on food imports in Nigeria, while boosting food production.

Nigeria has about 264 dams across the country.

Kabiru said that improvement of functioning dams will be better for farmers instead of constructing new ones. There is a total of 264 dams in Nigeria, with a combined storage space of 33 BCM for diverse uses. According to the Federal Ministry of Water Resources, 20 dams are owned by private organizations, 34 dams are owned by the state, while 210 dams are owned by the Federal Government. The chief executive officer of X-Ray Farms, AfricanFarmer Mogaji, affirmed that water was not accessible by the few operating river basins due to blockage of the canals by sand, reducing water flowing for the usage of the farmers.

He stated that some river basins are shut out from many acres of farmland. This was caused by the actions of the people who did not desilt them. Also, more funds is required by some dams as some of their parts have collapsed. Likewise, Mogaji stated that maintenance of canals and budgetary allocations to water resources are reduced at the senate level because the holders of ministry offices are not compulsorily players, experts, or professionals.

FG cannot manage the dam infrastructure; private investment is needed.

The managing director of AquaShoots Limited, Abiodun Olorundero, stated that there are non-functional dams in the southwest region. He said that visitation to the non-active dams, about three to four of them, have been carried out. He added that the Oyan dam in Ogun State was only in use for fishing activities. Considering the situation, he said that it was apparent that the government’s personnel and the government itself cannot manage the infrastructure. Hence, private investment should have a proper biding process to manage and run an efficient water process to impact human existence and enhance the value of agriculture.

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