As part of efforts to boost food production and enhance farmers cultivation in Benue State, the Federal Government has flagged off the 2023/24 dry season irrigated farming.
Speaking during the ceremony at Mbaku, Makurdi, the Minister of Water Resources and Sanitation, Prof. Joseph Utsev, said the Federal Government targeted 500,000 hectares of irrigable land in 2024.
According to Utsev, President Bola Tinubu had directed the ministry to ensure that 500,000 hectares irrigable land was maximally put to use in 2024. Adding that all the 12 River Basins in the country will be fully utilised in 2024 in line with the renowned hope agenda of the president.
However, he noted that most of the basins were partly commercialized for the purpose of boosting the country’s food production and economy.
The minister said that the 1,500 hectares of land at the Lower Benue River Basin Development Authority Makurdi farm located at Mbaku community would not be enough for irrigation farming in 2024.
He reiterated the ministry’s commitment to deliver on its mandate and called on investors to invest into the country’s water sector.
We have put all the machineries in place to ensure that there is no excuse for us not to boost agriculture in this country.
“We have gone into partial commercialization of the 12 River Basins in the country. We are now inviting investors to come in and partner with us.
“We are going to offer some incentives to farmers today such as water pumps to boost their cultivation and also encourage them.
“As we do symbolic planting of the crops today, I want to assure the famers that we are ready to support them, work with them and help them to overcome their challenges so that food would be available to all Nigerians.”he said.
The minister said that government would also provide improved seedlings and technical support to the farmers.
Before now, the Managing Director, Lower Benue River Basin Development Authority, Makurdi, Engr. Mohammed Addra, commended the host community for their cooperation and promised to continue to work with them.
The minister, during his visit, inaugurated the Soil and Geographic Information System laboratories of the basin, Lessel Dam.
He also presented certificates and distributed starter packs to the 5th Batch of graduands under the Graduates/Youths Empowerment Programme of the Federal Government.
Addra also inspected the rice mill, Songhai Model Farm, and distributed water pumps to some farmers and other inputs to the graduands.