The Commissioner for Agriculture, Mr. Mike Eneh made this known in Enugu during a Stakeholders meeting on the rehabilitation of the Adani-Omor Irrigation Infrastructure. The irrigation project is being funded by the African Development Bank and the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development under the Agricultural Transformation Agenda Support Programme, Phase One (ATASP-1).
The aim is to contribute to food and nutrition security, employment generation, and wealth creation along rice, cassava and sorghum value chains. The programme, which commenced since March 2015, will be implemented over a 5 year period in 4 Stable Crops Processing Zones (SCPZs).
Adani-Omor Zone is among the 4 SCPZs. While Adani is in Enugu State, Omor is in Anambra State. Other SCPZs are Bida-Badeggi, Kano-Jigawa and Kebbi-Sokoto Zones.
Enugu State convoked a stakeholders meeting, involving key officers in the State Ministry of Agriculture, state government appointees in agriculture issues and the consulting firm in-charge of the Adani-Omor Zone. There, the Commissioner for Agriculture, Mr. Mike Eneh emphasized the need to maximize the potential in Adani farming zones with over 1,000 hectares of ploughed land.
Mr. Eneh said though the Adani-Omor Stable Crops Processing Zone was captured to cultivate cassava and rice, there was the need to include sorghum, as that could boost farmers’ income.
“Sorghum is an industrial crop and it is used by the breweries. The breweries are virtually the only surviving industries in Nigeria. Enugu state is now in the derived savanna zone. There are 6 agro ecological zones in the country. We belonged to rain forest and partly derived southern guinea Savanna and therefore the ecology for sorghum production in parts of Enugu State is good.”
“Sorghum is a crop that is much sought after by the breweries. Anything you produce they are ready to buy. So we want to take advantage of this potential in Enugu State. According to the various staple crop processing zones, Kano is going into cassava; Badeggi-Bida is going into cassava. We can also go into rice, cassava and sorghum. Because what you do is to leverage any opportunity available to you.”
The Agriculture Commissioner also expressed the hope that the realization of the project would increase the capacity of the farmers to go for all year round farming, thereby guaranteeing more production of food and increasing the income of farmers.
“Over 30 years now we have been doing only rain fed rice production but you make money during dry season because that is the time you get clear cloud. During the rainy season you can’t see this cloud. And so the amount of incipient radiation from the sun is now much higher and therefore you are going to get increase yield. If you make 3/4 tons per hectare in rainy season, you can easily each 7/8 tons in dry season. That is why we are placing so much emphasis on the success of these rehabilitation works. So that our farmers will start making money.”
A major problem for farmers in Adani is dilapidated irrigation facility and poor road network. The irrigation infrastructure was put in place in the 1960s by the Dr. Michael Okpara administration of the defunct Eastern Region. But it collapsed totally in 1997.
Reacting to the intervention at the Adani irrigation site, the Permanent Secretary Enugu State Ministry of Agriculture, Mr. Ogbonnia Idike cautioned those involved in the rehabilitation process against playing politics with it, as the farmers had suffered so much.
“My visit to Adani rice is not commendable at the moment but I see that this intervention is going to change the faces of farmers. Our farmers are ready to farm. Lands have been cleared but dry season farming cannot be achieved without proper irrigation services. We are pleading that as the ATASP is starting their projects that the canals will be cleaned. We need to work on the irrigation system. So that not on intermittent basis the farmers will be going to farm.”
“We want these farmers to have a work plan where they can farm for 3- 4 months, after harvesting they go into second farming, because without proper irrigation system our farmers cannot do much.”
“Whatever politics people intend to do in this project should be jettisoned, it cannot work. We have a Governor who is committed to the welfare of farmers.”
The Zonal Coordinator of the Agricultural Transformation Agenda Transformation Support Programme (ATASP) for Adani-Omor Staple Crops Processing Zone, Mr. Romanus Egba promised that all relevant communities would be carried along throughout the implementation process.
“The major objective of this meeting is to inform the stakeholders that we have engaged a consultant for the design and restoration of our infrastructure, particularly, the Ada Rice irrigation scheme. So we want the stakeholders to make input to the design. That’s why we called them together, those that have information that will help the consultant to do a good job they should be able to bring it out. They will now interact with the consultant so the consultant will know the areas of our major needs. The consultant will know our feelings because he is working for us. So this is bottom-up approach planning.”
“You can see how the discussion went. A lot of issues came up in Ada rice and then we told the consultant you should be able to do a design that is anticipatory. You should be able to do a design that if we are increasing the capacity, we won’t talk of increasing the volume of water again.”
The Agricultural Transformation Agenda Support Programme is designed to be executed in 3 phases. The first phase is “Inception studies,” the second is “preliminary Design while the third phase is detailed design.
The consultant in-charge of the project, Mr. Innocent Dioke explained that they were still in the first stage, which involves meeting with employer, visit to the project sites, inventory report, among others.
He said he had already commenced work in the first phase of the design but that the overall objective was getting the irrigation infrastructure rehabilitated for proper use.
“It will involve rehabilitation of the production infrastructure and processing infrastructure. And this includes the diversion way at the River Obina, the canals: primary, secondary and tertiary canals. It includes also the roads- the canal roads, the feeder roads and the farm roads and then drainage structures within the irrigation area.”
“We have gone and seen the facility on ground. The canals are earth canals that are on line, as a result there is loss of irrigation water when the farms are being irrigated because they are also earth canals there is a lot of burrows by animals such as rat on them which means there will be plenty of sippage and losses. So part of what we want to do is recommend lining of the canals with concrete. Some component parts of the irrigation structure have been vandalized. They have to be rehabilitated.”
Other stakeholders that contributed during the discussion called for strict monitoring of the project to avert its abandonment as was the case in the past.
BY CHUKWUBUIKE MADU