Minister of Water Resources, Engineer Suleiman Adamu, has flagged-off the Graduate in Irrigated Agricultural Scheme (GIAS), at Ogoja irrigation project, of the Cross River Basin Development Authority.
Cross River Basin Development Authority, Ogoja Irrigation project became the fifth (GIAS) program among the 12 pilot projects expected to be launch in 2016; an initiative whereby participant in batches of 50, will be trained in various agricultural activities including crop farming, aquaculture, dairy and other sustainable agriculture activities.
Speaking at the flag-off exercise on Tuesday, Engr Adamu, said, “President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration is a complete overhaul of the structure of our economy which has largely been dependent on crude oil for decades by largely diversifying from single export commodity to more productive activities, notably agriculture, solid minerals development and a sound industrial base.
He said, the Federal Ministry of Water resources wass committed to reenergizing the RBDA’s to fully support the federal government noble objectives in exploiting lands and water resources to achieve food security and return Nigeria to economy prosperity.
According to him, “Agriculture in particular has the potential not only to boost our ability to feed ourselves, but to provide the enormous opportunity to create jobs for teeming young population.
“The scheme mirrors the Songhai irrigated farm model and is in fact to be implemented under the supervision professor Godfery Nzamujo Songhai model champion, with whom an MOU has been signed by the 12 RBDAs.
“Under the 2016-2030, approve water road map of the ministry, we intend to further develop our irrigation potential to 500,000 Ha through direct government intervention and to facilitate the development of another 1million Ha, by large scale commercial farms through community public private partnership (CPPP).
“A significant portion of the irrigated land will also be made available to unemployed youths who are interested in agricultural entrepreneurship.”
Managing Director, Cross River Basin Development Authority, Mrs. Eta Eyo Ita, said Ogoja community known for swarm rice farming but the major challenge had been milling, dis-stoning and proper packaging of the rice, and consequently farmers travel as far as Abakaliki in Ebonyi for milling.
She said, that, CRBDA’s was poised to address the challenge by setting up to 15-20 tons per day rice processing mill here at Ogoja irrigation project, which would be managed through public private partnership with graduate youth under the empowerment scheme.
According to her, the authority was extending the youth empowerment by collaborating with NYSC and other private stakeholders in the state, training corps members and unemployed youths in fisheries, bottle water production, and farm management.
The Ogoja irrigated project is a legacy project of the authority conceived in the 80’s and developed mainly by direct labour over the years to the stage it is today. The project has an area of 168ha and is designed for 125ha of irrigated agriculture
The project has 211 farmers and nine multipurpose cooperative societies. Its source of water supply in Aya River and the water is pump from the river into 1650 cubic meter reservoir and distributed, via a network of main field canal into the field by siphons.