Minister of Water Resources and Sanitation, Prof. Joseph Utsev, has called on relevant state governments to provide irrigable land for the 12 river basins across the country for irrigated farming.
Utsev made the call in Minna when he paid a courtesy visit to Gov. Umaru Bago of Niger after a familiarization visit to the Upper Niger River Basin Development Authority (UNRBDA) located in the state.
He said President Bola Tinubu had given the ministry a marching order to boost food production to ensure that food was available for local consumption and for export.
“As part of the `Renewed Hope’ agenda of President Tinubu, all hands must be on deck to ensure maximum food security; therefore, it is not going to be business as usual,’’ the minister said.
He also called on state governments promote irrigated- farming and to encourage their people to take advantage of it to boost food production.
“We are not relenting to ensure that the state-of-emergency placed on food production achieved results in line with the president’s agenda and we are leaving no stone unturned,’’ Utsev stressed.
He said he had set and given targets to managing directors of river basins to key into the agenda by engaging in wet and dry season farming.
The minister told the governor that as part of its target, UNRBDA would supervise the rehabilitation of Bedeggi irrigation scheme, Suleja and Bida waterworks and construction of boreholes in the state.
He pledged more collaboration with the state government and said UNRBDA has a dam capable of supplying water to Agaie and Lapai towns.
It also has dams in Gbako and Egbea Gaba towns that could be used for irrigation and for water supply, Utsev said.
The Niger deputy governor, Malam Yakubu Garba, who received the minister and his entourage on behalf of Gov. Bago said the four dams in Niger were not adequately utilized.
He said only 30 per cent of the dams were used for power generation.
He added that Niger faced challenges with waterworks issues and called on the Federal Government to intervene to address the issues.
The minister, who was accompanied by Prof. Muhammad Ali, Managing Director of UNRBDA on the visit, inaugurated the Rafin-Yashin Road and the Rafin-Yashin irrigation scheme.
Utsev also inaugurated a concrete reservoir to supply water to Rafin-Yashin irrigation scheme and Songhai Farm and inspected facilities and equipment either built or bought by UNRBDA.