Lower Niger Basin authority employs high techs for agro-allied services
• Produces 24,000 bags of 50kg rice
• Oyo govt appeals to Ogun/Osun basin over water resources
The Managing Director of the Lower Niger River Basin Development Authority, Ilorin, Kwara State, Dr Adeniyi Saheed Aremu, has disclosed to The Guardian that the management has purchased a drone as part of the efforts to employ sophisticated technologies in the business of food production and allied services.
The drone was being test-run when The Guardian was at the authority’s premises in Ilorin. The drone, which is an unmanned aerial device, is one of the latest technological products used in land surveying/mapping, security, engineering, cinematography and agricultural applications.
Dr. Aremu disclosed that the device would help the basin authority in farmland mapping, survey for project designs and constructions, engineering infrastructure monitoring and evaluation, project construction progress reporting and consultancy services.Farm crop protection would also be boosted with the device, especially in terms of early pest detection and control.Part of the efforts being emplaced, Aremu added, includes construction and utilisation of over 100 fish ponds leased to fish farmers and turning out no fewer than 150 metric tonnes of fish annually at Kampe Omi Dam in the Ejiba area office of the authority.
The authority also revealed that its Graduate Youth Empowerment Scheme was put together to reduce the army of unemployed people in Kwara and Kogi states and to contribute to the efforts to make Nigeria food-secure. He listed the area offices of the authority with functional irrigation to include Ejiba, Shonga, Ilorin and Lokoja.
“Some of the areas which are lately being utilised for farm irrigation across Kwara and Kogi states include Moshe-Gada irrigation project; Giriyan/Oloru project; Malete irrigation project; Orin irrigation; Asa and Taketelde irrigation projects,” he disclosed.Greenhouse facilities, he added, had been installed for vegetable farming and training of young people interested in modern ways of farming, as part of its empowerment programmes.
Under the rice farming initiative, the managing director said Ejiba, Shonga and Lokoja area offices of the authority had been engaging in both wet and dry season farming, saying under the programme, private organisations, individual farmers and cooperatives, including teachers and journalists, had been making use of over 500 hectares of land for rice farming.
This has yielded a total of 24,000 bags of 50kg rice (1,200 tonnes) so far. Other agricultural programmes anchored by the basin authority include poultry production and training (broiler birds production and sales and laying birds); fishery; feed milling; production of horticultural crops, ornamental plants and fruit trees; land preparation; land allocation for water supply to fish farmers and seed multiplication as well as collaboration with universities.
The irrigation projects include five main irrigation projects and 35 small projects at various locations within the authority’s areas of operation covering the entire Kwara and some part of Kogi states.The Lower Niger River Basin Development Authority is one of the 12 River Basin Development Authorities in Nigeria. The Authority was re-established in 1994 having had a chequered history of mergers and demergers since it was originally established by Decree No. 25 of June 1976 under the name Niger River Basin Development Authority with the Headquarters in Ilorin.
Meanwhile, the Oyo State Commissioner for Agriculture, Prince Oyewole Oyewumi, has appealed to the Ogun/Osun Basin Authority to speed up the process of instituting a board that would fast-track the efforts to revive about 28 irrigation facilities emplaced by the Federal Government in the state. Oyewumi said lack of a board in the basin authority had being frustrating the efforts and consultations to utilise the water resources for agricultural production, and by extension hampering food production beyond raining seasons.