✕ CLOSE Online Special City News Entrepreneurship Environment Factcheck Everything Woman Home Front Islamic Forum Life Xtra Property Travel & Leisure Viewpoint Vox Pop Women In Business Art and Ideas Bookshelf Labour Law Letters

How Benin Owena River Basin supports irrigation – Engr Ahmed

Engr Salisu O. Ahmed is the Managing Director of Benin Owena River Basin Development Authority, which covers Edo, Ekiti, Ondo and Delta Northern senatorial district.…

Engr Salisu O. Ahmed is the Managing Director of Benin Owena River Basin Development Authority, which covers Edo, Ekiti, Ondo and Delta Northern senatorial district. In this interview, he speaks on how the authority is setting up integrated farms, dams and helping farmers to boost yields and contribute to the nation’s food security.

How is Benin Owena River Basin Development Authority supporting farming activities in its franchise states?

The main purpose of setting up the River Basin Development Authority was to promote the development, management and conservation of water. For agriculture to strive, water and land are the main ingredients. So, given the pivotal role that the authority played in the management of water resources, we therefore play a key role in the national food security drive. Essentially, the river basins are working with other stakeholders to promote agriculture, and all year-round farming. For farming enterprise to be successful, irrigation is a major component because without irrigation, you would only be restricted to rainfall agriculture which is grossly inadequate to meet the nation’s food need. So, it is the development of irrigation that help to accentuate the sustainability of our food security and the river basin are in the forefront of doing this within the catchment states the authority covers. We have developed a number of irrigation schemes, some are drift irrigation system, some are centre pivot irrigation system. We have also built some dams for the conservation of water, making it available for use.

What sort of farming activities go on in the river basin authority?

The emphasis is really not on the farming activities the river basin does, but providing facility and making them available to be deployed to various agricultural enterprises. As pilot initiatives, the Benin Owena River Basin Authority is involved in setting up integrated farms across its catchment states. We currently have six integrated farms; they serve the purpose of production, processes and training for farmers but in addition to this, we also have holdings spread in different parts of our catchment states and they are used by commercial farmers who lease them and engage in commercial agriculture.

You mentioned the construction of dams, how many dams has the authority constructed and how many are functional?

One of the biggest dams in our catchment states is Igbara-Oke in Ondo State called Owena multipurpose dam. It was completed nearly 30 years ago and it is fully impounded with a reservoir capacity running into billion litres of water. Like I said, it is a multipurpose dam with a component for hydro water supply and irrigation. It is completed and the water component which is the responsibility of the Ondo State government has not been completed but we are deploying it for aquaculture right now while the hydro power component is also being developed and conceived but on a public private partnership.

In the same Ondo State, we have a dam also in Asegba community which is a smaller dam but it is completed. It has a command land of about 40 hectares of irrigation and is currently being used for aquaculture. In Ekiti, we have Oye-Ayede dam which is completed and we use it to irrigate about 40 hectares of land where vegetables are grown at the moment. In Edo, we have the Okhun-Era dam around Ekpoma, it was completed years back but it is currently under-utilized due to problem of leakage but we are working to address the leakage this year. We have also started another construction of dam in Otuo community in Owan West Local Government Area. The dam is for water supply principally to Otuo and other communities around it. The construction is about 70 percent completion. We have also designed a dam in Auchi, though it has not started, we have commenced a component of it for water supply. It is a ground tank with the capacity of holding about six billion litres of water. In Jattu-Uzairue, we also recently commissioned the construction of another dam on the River Ogio and the Edo State government is collaborating with us on that. They are providing 25 percent counterpart funding to ensure the completion of the dam.

In Delta State, we have the Ogwashi uku dam which is completed and fully impounded and the water supply component which is the responsibility of the Delta State government, is yet to be developed. So, these are some of our efforts in dam construction across our catchment states.

How are farmers in Edo State and others in catchment state benefiting from the Benin Owena River Basin Authority?

The areas in which our farmers benefit include offer of extension services to farmers in our communities and this extension service is to support them to crop better and also understand best agricultural practices and deplore them to be able to have better yield. We also support farmers with various farming implements, we have supported farmers with nasal sprayers, seed and seedlings, mechanisation services through our tractors that we deplore to help them, off course for token fees.

You established integrated farms in your catchment areas, how are the farms doing?

We have integrated farms in Obayantor in Benin City, Okpe and Unemenekua in Akoko-Edo and Auchi. We are just starting another one in Ohiomwon also in Benin. These farms are production, processing, and training centres. They are at various stages of development but the ones in Obayantor, Okpe, Auchi and Unemenekua have been in production and we have been selling the produces, generating revenue for government. We have also, through the farms, sent some community members in Okpe and Unemenekhua for 60 days training on integrated farm model and they have since returned and are working on the farms in their communities.

How are the farmers taking advantage of these integrated farms to improve their yield?

Like I said, the farms also serve for training and are being integrated which means we are doing both crops and aquaculture and animal practices. So, the farms serve as outlets for farmers to get trained on modern agricultural practices. Our integrated farms are organic; there are no fertilizers used in them and they serve the purpose.

Are you currently earning in Naira but need salary/earnings in Dollars? You have an opportunity to earn as much as $10,000 (₦9.2 million naira) monthly. Click here to get evidence.

%d bloggers like this: