Home News Stealing, vandalism of irrigation schemes worrisome – Director

Stealing, vandalism of irrigation schemes worrisome – Director

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By Tosin Kolade

Keffi (Nasarawa) – The Director, Irrigation and Drainage, Federal Ministry of Water Resources, Dr Elijah Aderibigbe, has raised an alarm over continued vandalism and theft of irrigation equipment in parts of the country.

Aderibigbe, who told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on the sidelines of the two-day workshop on Institutional Strengthening and Management of Public Irrigation Schemes in Keffi, described the development as `worrisome’

He said that it was high time farmers and water users took ownership of these projects to halt the threat.

According to him, with ownership through Participatory Irrigation Management (PIM) model, the gains of the project will be realised and value chain addition would be met.

“There are different kinds of irrigation projects, we have surface and pressurized irrigation projects, whereby we use sprinklers, drip irrigation systems and the centre pivot irrigation systems, whereby we use water.

“Because of the materials used for construction of these equipment, some of these things are stolen, they vandalize them, to make spoons, cut the tyres of the centre pivot systems to make shoes.

“We are talking about billions of dollars and Naira involved, now some people denying the entire people in the value chain not to be employed.

“Once they are stolen, it can’t work, when you vandalize about 100 million Naira equipment to go and do something of N2,000 or N5,000, it is useless, but they don’t care because it’s not their money.

“That’s the main reason why when the farmers are involved, when it is their own, they will know when a stranger comes in and if it is among them.

“They will see some of the equipment with them and will be able to shout, do something about it and secure them to operate very well,” he said.

The director noted that the 12 River Basin Development Authorities (RBDAs) were in charge of all irrigation schemes nationwide and with some in charge of draining excess water and land reclamation while others were into providing access to water through irrigation for dry season farming.

According to him, with availability of water all-year, farming would be practiced and this would be visible on value chain addition.

Aderibigbe said that the Federal Government had given its best to see that all abandoned irrigation schemes were completed toward improving food production, job creation and food security.

“Among which is food security, employment, moving people out of poverty and of course, food is number one, all these money will be wasted if we don’t manage what we have,’’ he said.

“Huge amount of money has been expended on irrigation projects, it is one thing to complete a project, it is another thing to manage and sustain them.

“In order to sustain them, the owners who make it their livelihood, who are the farmers producing these produce for us need to own the property.

“It is not the government that sunk the money or who has constructed are not the owners, but they are making the environment friendly for them to do the work.

“That is why they need to own the projects, they need to operate it and of course, the money is not just there forever, they need to come in to operate and maintain them.

“Once in a while, the head works and main canals can be maintained by government, while they will take care of their own field canals and others because of the amount involved.

“That is the reason every one of us, the government officials, the superiority they exhibit should be shed down, and give the authority to the farmers,” he said.  

(NAN)

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