The Minister of Agriculture and Food Security Abubakar Kyari, has disclosed plans by the Ministry to urgently collaborate with the Ministry of Water Resources to achieve all year-round farming as part of efforts to attain food security.
The Minister made the development known in Abuja at the commemoration of the World Food Day with the theme: ”Water is life, Water Is Food, Leave No One Behind’.”
According to him, declining water supply due to climate change, urbanization and rapid population growth pose a serious threat to Nigeria’s food security if urgent steps are not taken to curtail it. Hence, the need for the two ministries to collaborate to ensure adequate irrigation of farmlands and to guarantee that food is produced all year round.
He stated that the increasing threat to regular water supply has adversely affected not only food production but also, agricultural livelihoods, with developing countries in particular bearing a disproportionate burden.
He also noted that incidences of droughts, rainfall variability and desertification pose a greater challenge by putting the planet’s water resources under increasing stress.
However, the Minister noted that the Ministry is collaborating with the Federal Ministry of Water Resources to optimally harness all water resources available in producing areas including River Basins, Dams (around irrigable lands) and other wetlands for multiple cropping cycles.
He added that the collaboration would be deployed for the 2023/2024 dry season farming with priority crops such as wheat, rice, maize and cassava with a sustainable plan for up-scaling and replicating the same for other crops, livestock and fisheries across the federation.
On his part, the Director General, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), QU Dongyu, said government need to design science- and evidence-based policies that capitalize on data and innovation, and coordinate across sectors to plan and manage water better.
Dongyu in a remark read by Head of Office, FAO, Northeast, Al Hassan Cisse, reiterated the need for farmers to become agents of water management and be equipped with the right tools to perform that function sustainably.
He said that promoting water governance was critical to boosting business reputation and profits while helping them avoid risks that water scarcity, floods and pollution could pose to operations in the future.
“Water, energy and food are inextricably linked, and for policies to be successful, they must often manage competing interests without compromising the health of our ecosystems.
”Farmers, forest-dependent people, livestock producers and those working in the blue economy of fisheries and aquaculture already manage water daily”, he said.
The World Food Day featured field visits to cluster farms and livestock farms in the Federal Capital Territory.
Furthermore, the Country Director, ActionAid Nigeria, Andrew Mamedu, also stressed the need for the government to deploy resources into recharging Lake Chad saying no amount of money is too big to spend on a project that will impact more than 30 million lives.