The Sokoto Rima River Basin Development Authority (SRBDA) says it has hired out 60 motorised soil-tillers to irrigation farmers in the four states within the basin under its irrigation project.
Prof. Ahmed Ala, the Director, Agricultural Services, disclosed this to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Wednesday in Sokoto.
Ala said that the initiative was a prelude to Tractor Hire Scheme initiated by the authority to boost irrigation across the four states – Sokoto, Zamfara, Kebbi and Kastina.
He said the measure was aimed at promoting modern farming techniques and engaging farmers on more commercial ventures that would yield more harvest.
The director said at present, SRBDA was conducting surface irrigation farming in its eight irrigation sites in Goronyo, Bakalori, Zauro. Shagari and Jibia across the four SRBDA operating states.
He said each soil-power tiller machine was attached to an officer to monitor its usage, preserve records on work done, area covered, money collected and provide other useful information.
Ala added that such records would pave way for tractor hire scheme to ascertain areas of higher needs and proper record keeping.
According to him, the authority dropped sprinkler irrigation system and was not aware of any pivotal irrigation system introduced by the Federal Government.
He however noted that the new method might be in the pipeline, stressing that any modern irrigation method would be welcomed.
He commended the Federal Government for its efforts towards strengthening river basins across the country, noting that the SRBDA had contributed much to surface and underground water management in the four states.
Ala said the authority was working towards more commercial engagements with companies such as WACOT and Dangote on effective management of scheme potentialities.
The director added that the collaboration would include the companies serving as off-takers of harvested produce, inputs providers and potential managers of irrigation activities.
“We can allow them to maintain canals with payment of royalties. With more inputs and good irrigation practices, farmers can cultivate across all the seasons,” he said.
He said the World Bank, through the Transforming Irrigation Management in Nigeria (TRIMING) project, has renovated irrigation lands, while the Goronyo site was being prepared by the federal government to facilitate smooth activities.
“When the basin functions properly, it has the capacity to produce rice and other items that will contribute high percentage in feeding the nation.
“SRBDA has 1, 207, 566 gross hectares; 23, 129 hectares under Irrigation with 36, 568 net hectares,” he said. (NAN)