Irrigation : Embrace , manage scheme’s FG ‘TRIMING’ model as best for food – Agric Minister to stakeholders

By Suleiman Adamu, Sokoto

THE Minister of Water Resources , Engineer Suleiman Adamu has called on farmers and relevant stakeholders in the sector to embrace the federal government project initiative; ‘ Transforming Irrigation Management in Nigeria’ for improved service and administration of irrigation activities for food production and sufficiency.

The initiative is a tripartite approach muted in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Water Resources and the World Bank

Adamu made the call at the opening of a 4- day all important Special Consultative meeting of stakeholders to enhance participation and align with the new model of owning the drive that would strengthen avenue for profitable use of water, service fee collection and administration for irrigation schemes amidst the challenges of banditry .

The incessant security challenges of bandits attacks that have persistently threatened farming communities in states of the northwest, especially Zamfara, Kebbi and Sokoto, prompted stakeholders resolve to hold the session to strategise an enhanced approach to better productivity and secure their farmlands and produce.

Over time, the axis has been under threat of banditry, forcing farming communities to vacate their lands for the fear of been killed or kidnapped.

The Minister explained that the session was organised to acquaint stakeholders with the modalities of the new regime of irrigation service fee collection and administration.

Adamu pointed out that the essence was to ensure strict compliance with the directives of the Accountant General of the federation in the operation of the TRIMING, Water Users Association (WUA), River Basin Development Authority (RBDA), Operation and Maintenance of irrigation system including the TSA system now domiciled at the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

Adamu, represented by the Acting Director, Department of Irrigation and drainage of the ministry, Engr. Mrs. Easter Oyuronke Oluniyi said that the drive was part of the immediate outcome of the transformational efforts of the TRIMING Project,.

” The expectation of government from the beneficiary schemes, is that farmers from TRIMING Project schemes can on their own, identify works needed for routine maintenance, repairs and minor rehabilitation requirements. The irrigation and drainage systems is now under their care. “

The Minister reminded that the River Basin Development Authorities (RBDAs), should ensure that farmers and their associations have actually taken their new responsibilities with steady grip, keeping the canals, drains, roads, culverts, and all other structures to be handed over to them shortly in top working condition at all times. This is to justify the expenditure of time and the enormous resources been spent on the project.

He noted if strictly adhered to and practiced, happens, no doubt that operation and maintenance costs would be kept at their lowest levels, thus, freeing such resources to be expended for operation and maintenance which can be utilised for other developmental purposes.

He maintained that” this will simply mean , more money in the pockets of the farming community, and less hassles for the RBDAs in runing around to mobilise resources for operation and maintenance .”

Noting that it will further relief government of having to provide resources for those activities, the Minister said it can channel its the resources to other competing needs for national development.

” I urge you as players in this transformation drive to exert maximum efforts by supporting the process inorder to guarantee its success.

” Also note that the entire TRIMING project is an experimental exercise by the ministry which is planned to be rolled out to other River Basin Development Authorities across the federation ,on successful completion and reporting on the performance of the project at the first instance”, he pointed.

According to Adamu, ” your(RBDAs) contribution will guide future decisions of government regarding the involvement of other River Basin Development Authorities in transfering management of irrigation systems from government owned and control, to farmer managed systems. “

Hitherto, the Minister said” base on this reason, government is not likely to come around anytime soon, with the intention of providing any kind of support , intervention, either for operation, maintenance, or management for any of the schemes, organised refresher courses for RBDAs personnel as well elaborate training program conducted for the farmers. The reasonable expectation can only be victory. “

Also, National Coordinator of the project, Mr. Peter Yakubu Manjuk , who emphasised government/farmers collaboration in securing the farming places, pointed out that it was the responsibilities of government to secure the people.

” It is also expected that the government will give helping hands where farmers are unable.”

Though, noted that” we are aware that farmers on their own at community levels through vigilante groups, are doing their best but when it comes to serious bandits issues, the government has to assist to enable them engage in their annual farming activities without harassment from insurgents.

” Therefore, we expect an arrangement between government and farmers to efficiently and effectively secure the place to allow farmers contribute to National development”, he appealed.

Accordingly, Manjuk said ” any thing that is threatening your business , you will do whatever humanly possible to protect it. Something that will uplift your means of livelihood ,enhance your economic standing, you must strive to safeguard it.

” I, therefore, expect the meeting to usher us into a level of accomplishment of the TRIMING training projects where by farmers will at the driving seats in the daily running of the irrigation schemes as far the concern of operations and maintenance.”

While he expected farmers to take genuinely get committed and take over the responsibilities from government by owning the project life , Manjuk described irrigation farming as a serious business, notable ng that irrigated agriculture was the way to go” if we are going to guarantee food sufficiency and security to the our nation, generate employment in large numbers, our youths will be engaged profitably.

” Let me make a mark here, is not as if government will hands off completely, but farmers will be responsible for a certain level of management from the distributor canals, distributor drainages down ward to the field canal and field drainages and the fields track.”

Also, the Managing Director, Inter- Tropical Consultants Ltd., Rabiu Abubakar Babura, traced the history of participatory irrigation management in Nigeria to 1985 in Kano River Project which was muted between in 1983 and got expanded in 1994 to 1997 hence got to Sokoto State under the European Community programme in Wurno River Project.

According to Babura ” government accepted the programme as such resulted in the emergence of TRIMING project with the commencement of Bakolori Irrigation Scheme in August 2015 and by September 2020 ,the project trained over 68,000 farmers and River Basin Development Authorities staff.

” That means that approximately, the trained farmers and staff of the authority who are scheduled to cover over 11 sectors with 7,702 irrigation units in Bakolori Schemes.

” Down to Goronyo, the project trained over 17,000 farmers in four sectors with only 199 irrigation units.

” In Bakolori , there are over 4800 officers selected to represent various farmers association and staff of the authority who are to organise themselves to maintain the services.

” In Bakolori, the TRIMING project proposed to provide a grant of over N43 billion while the Goronyo scheme will provide a grant of N200million to maintain irrigation services”, Babur’s disclosed.

The all inclusive stakeholders meeting of the affected states is expected to symbolise a replication of the Sokoto Rima River Basin Development Authority(SRRBDA) irrigation project initiative of Transforming Irrigation Management in Nigeria (TRIMING).

It is essentially to rehabilitate the upstream; that is, the water reservoirs structures, and the dawn stream which consist of irrigation and other structures like access roads.

Besides , the drive is premised to strengthen the capacity of Water Users Association (WUAs).

It is channelled to boost the capacity of the three pioneer River Basins Authority comprising, the Hadejia -Jama’are River Basin Development Authority( HJRBDA), Sokoto Rima River Basin Development Authority(SRRBDA) and Upper Benue River Basin Development Authority ( UBRBDA) respectively.

The line of action has focused on the Sokoto River Basin Development Authority(SRRBDA) to domesticate the TRIMING project being executed in two schemes at the Bakolori irrigation scheme in Talatar Mafara of Zamfara State and the River Little valley in Goronyo, Sokoto State.

The drive on the project has commenced for the past six years, which provides opportunities for the training of water users on capacity building on how to operate and ensure maintenance of irrigation schemes for modern day agricultural best practices.

However, participants who came together for the timely meeting were drawn from states and federal government ministries of agriculture, related organisations and farmers associations with a view to extensively harmonise ideas for workable guidelines to smoothen the process of handing over of basic responsibilities of operation and maintenance of irrigation and drainage systems as well financial and administrative accountability to the farming communities.

Meanwhile, a cross section of participants at the meeting expressed optimism that the drive would change the narratives towards achieving the desired objective of food sufficiency.

” Is the best farming mechanism strategy that would support our quest for sufficiency and security in food production. “

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