transformation of Katsina irrigation sector

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Former Governor Ibrahim Shehu Shema of Katsina-State.

Agricultural sector the world over play a prominent role in ensuring the security and stability of the nation states. With the increasing population and the threat posed by lack of food, experts in agriculture had device means of promoting irrigation farming. The recent statistics from various sources across the world and the irrigation farmers had shown that, irrigation farming is more beneficial as a source of revenue earner than the traditional wet farming.
To show that the future of the development of the world economy depends largely on agriculture developed economies of the world have shifted focus and investing heavily on agricultural activities. In 2010 the European Union, EU and the United State of America, US spent 57 Billion pounds on gricultural development of which 39 billion pounds were spent on direct subsidy. Similarly agriculture and fishery subsidy formed 40 % of EU budget while countries like China, Brazil, Vietnam and Thailand had experienced significant growth in the agric sector which translates into poverty reduction.
In the case of Katsina State, since the inception of Governor Ibrahim Shehu Shema’s administration in 2007 it has accorded agriculture the desired attention. Having considered the role of agriculture in sustaining stability and security of the society, the government took pro-active measures to reinvigorate and redirect the course of agricultural practices in the state. A lot of study groups man by experts on agriculture were formed while several brainstorming sessions were organised to chart the way forward. Undoubtedly, these several efforts and experts assessments culminating into realizing the potentials of irrigation farming as a poverty reduction tool, a revenue earner and a major contributor to the Gross Domestic Product, GDP of the country at large.
A major step taken by the government to boost agricultural activities in the state, was the setting-up of the Agricultural Activities Implementation Committee, AAIC, which comprises seasoned agriculturalists from within and outside the state. The committees major role then was to study the report of the consultants from the Institute of Agricultural Research of the Ahmadu Bello University, ABU, Zaria and to make recommendations that would move the state agric sector forward.
Irrigation farming as the future of agriculture became top and emerged as the major beneficiary of Governor Shema’s administration’s efforts aimed at ensuring food security and poverty eradication in the state.
The major and must successful point of intervention was in the Jibia Irrigation Project. The irrigation project is under the Sokoto Rima River Basin Development Authority, (SRBDA), and following the state government’s intervention the scope of the scheme in terms of hectares coverage increased from 100 hectares in 2009 to 30,050.00 hectares in2012.
Apparently, fertilizer is the major catalyst for farming activities and having realised this, Katsina State government formulated a transparent and more effective mode of fertilizer distribution to irrigation farmers across the state. This new mode of fertilizer distribution involves the direct allocation of this subsidized fertilizer to farmers on ground. These distributions were done under the strict monitoring and supervision of a powerful committee of the ministry of agriculture. The role of Fadama farmers in the development of irrigation activities cannot be ignored and it was in recognition of this that the government move in to compliment them with various irrigation scheme initiatives. The government spent the sum of N431, 836,000.00 on procurement of 2 inch irrigation pumps with their accessories, drilling rigs, rig towing vehicles. These were all done under the Commercial Agriculture Loan scheme and government approved N3,000,000.00 for the expansion of the loan scheme. Similarly the programme involves the drilling of tube Wells, 1,000 wash bores as well as the procurement of 1,000 2 inch water pumps for special loan scheme to irrigation sites across the state at a 50% discount.
Rehabilitation of existing irrigation facilities across the irrigation sites across the state was also a major priority of the government. To this end, the state government rehabilitated 5 irrigation schemes in Dabiram, Kwanar Are, Mashiga, Makera and Mairuwa , in Rimi, Kankara, Dutsin-ma and Funtua local governments respectively. In 2010 additional 5 were rehabilitated at the cost of over N50 million.
In 2011, Katsina State Government under Governor Shema’s administration purchase 8 number 6 inch high capacity pumps to boost irrigation farming at the cost of N47,064,000.00 million and approved the purchase of 8 high capacity pumps at the cost of N47, 296,000.00 this year. Plans have also reached advance stage to construct three new irrigation schemes in Tuduwa, Takatsaba, and Kirjan both in Dutsi, Dutsin-ma and Dandume local governments respectively. To open-up more areas for irrigation activities the state government was making efforts to conduct feasibility studies at Gari River, Jachi I Ingawa and Mani local governments with a view of constructing new dams.
As a sign of government commitment to irrigation and improve food security in the state, the government stretched its hands as far as Benin Republic where it studied the operations and reputation of Songhai Centre at Port Novo as it relates to the concept of integrated farming. With this the government had entered into an agreement with the Songhai Regional Centre for the establishment of Songhai model farms in three locations in Makera, Sabke and Maituwa both in Dutsin-ma, Daura and Funtua local government respectively. The programme which is an integrated and multi-dimentional approach to agricultural development is expected to significantly address the menace of youth unemployment and poverty in the state. As part of the agreement, 60 youth from Katsina are already receiving a six month training in agricultural enterprises at various Songhai Farms locations in Benin Republic. This project would cost the state government and the 34 local governments in the state N3 billion.
Paradoxically, to ensure sustainability and secure the future the state Commissioner of Agriculture, Alhaji Musa Adamu Funtua noted that the government is exploring ways and avenues of harnessing the abundant agricultural resources in the state. He said just recently investors from Australia and Israel visited the state for discussion, seeking ways and areas of collaboration. The commissioner added that negotiations were also on with New Era Energy from UK to utilize the wind energy boost irrigation in three different locations in the state. To Katsina State, irrigation hold the key to food security and stability.

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