The Federal Ministry of Water Resources has urged unemployed youths to take advantage of the available opportunities at the 12 River Basin Development Authorities (RBDAs) for integrated agricultural production and job creation.
Mrs Esther Oluniyi, Acting Director, Irrigation and Drainage Department with the ministry told News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Friday that the call became necessary to meet with the agricultural policy thrust of the President Muhammadu Buhari.
She said the aim was also for the country to achieve food security for all.
According to her, young people should take the opportunity of the irrigated agriculture in the river basin development authorities in the country.
Oluniyi said the ministry was implementing the Graduate and Youth Empowerment Scheme in some river basins with integrated schemes from the Songhai model of agriculture.
“We have 12 RBDAs in the country and our projects are located in the command area of the river basin, and our youths can approach any of the river basins and express interest.
“What integrated farming entails is that it is not just irrigated agriculture, but with fishing, with access to water from irrigated lands, poultry, Water packaging etc.
“Young people should not seat idle, they should make use of the opportunity that abound in the river basins.
“In Lower Niger River Basin at the Kampe irrigation site, graduate youths are selling fresh fish while buyers wait earnestly to be supplied, youths should not miss this opportunity.”
Oluniyi said the ministry had concluded plans to build the capacity of its Water Users Associations toward ensuring that they took over the operation and maintenance of irrigation schemes and end dependence on government alone.
According to her, the Transforming Irrigation Management in Nigeria (TRIMING) project has made giant impact in irrigation management systems, hence the adoption of the model in other schemes.
“We are going to build the capacities of the Water Users Associations, this is in the view to ensure that they take over the day to day operation and maintenance of irrigation schemes at the tertiary levels.
“We don’t expect them to continue to depend on the government to source money for their operation and maintenance, when we build their capacity, they will be able to come together as a group and be operating by themselves and also maintain the tertiary canals.
“With these, we are looking at increased food production, employment generation and overall value chain addition.
“The TRIMING Project has recorded good success in the area of capacity building for Water Users Associations (WUA) and we are using the model to promote the involvement of WUA in various irrigation schemes.”
She said part of TRIMING intervention was the Bakolori Irrigation Scheme in Zamfara, which had seen lasting impact, especially in value chain addition and speedy response to payment of water use charges.
Oluniyi said that efforts were on to replicate progress made in the TRIMING project schemes to other irrigation schemes, saying this would help to improve farmer’s participation in agriculture production.
“With the present agenda to increase agricultural production, create employment opportunities for youths and others to improve the economic base of the rural communities, I think irrigation and drainage projects will be supported and succeeds.
“The ministry is currently revising contract agreements to see that projects are completed with larger benefit to the farmers.
“We have other projects that we have concluded on the revision of contracts, once it is done, we will make sure that they are delivered, giving quick impact to the farmers.
“We are hopeful that this will be made possible with availability of funds to deliver quick impact.’’ (NAN)