Underground water management

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Farmers have to see the importance of water rationalization, through the modern systems.

From Sokoto to Delta, farmers have confronted persistent and severe droughts, exacerbated by climate change, and serious water shortages in rain-fed agriculture.

One of them is agro investor, Kolawole Adeniji, who ekes out a living by farming on his 5,000-acre farmland in Oyo State.

READ ALSO: Fed Govt unveils plan to boost school enrollment with food

Most of the farmlands in the area are largely rain fed. He has seen his farming severely constrained by water shortages and scarcity. Since farmers depended on groundwater for irrigation, they irrigate their farms through borewells.

Observing groundwater levels, he realised that cultivation consumed excessive amount of water and lowered water level in borewells.

He had to adopt drip irrigation to cultivate cassava. He is an ambassador for modern irrigation, raising awareness about the importance of food and water security in Nigeria.

He is enlightening farmers about the importance of rationalising water consumption through the adoption of modern, water-saving and higher income-generating irrigation methods.

Since agriculture sector consumes about 75 per cent of  water resources, the Managing Director, SGL Farms, based in Ogun State, Seun Adegoke, noted that irrigation modernisation would improve management of water supply.

He called for a strategy to optimise water usage and increase productivity in irrigated agriculture.

In the age of climate change and water scarcity, he said farmers should deploy micro-irrigation to increase crop yield and decrease water, fertiliser and labour requirements.

He said farmers were expected to ensure maintenance of optimum soil moisture conditions that help increase productivity and profitability.

The Chairman, Agro Allied Group, Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, African Farmer Mogaji, noted that many of the irrigation systems put in place needed to be upgraded or replaced.

Beyond the management of water resources, he said the government should work with the private sector to reposition the industry to endure the impact of climate change and unpredictable weather conditions.

According to International Water  Management Institute(IWMI) only six per cent of Africa’s farmland is irrigated.

As a result,Africa’s agricultureis largely rainfed and has among the lowest productivity in the world.

IWMI said there is a significant potential,however,to sustainably increase the use of groundwater elsewhere in Africa,and in particular for small scale farming.

Untapping the enormous potential of ground water irrigation in sub-Saharan Africa,the  institute noted could bring three fold wins ofenvironmental sustainability,agricultural productivity and greater social equality.

Investing in motor pumps to expand irrigation,IWMI added,could  benefit  an estimated 185 million people, generating revenues of $22  billion a year across the continent.

At the continent level, private organisations are making efforts to accelerate water management to boost food production. One of such programmes is Coca-Cola’s RAIN initiative. It has made great strides in managing water resources to benefit food production systems.

Replenish Africa Initiative (RAIN) has helped more than 4 000 communities across 41 countries to gain improved access to clean water thanks. It said: “We realised the importance of accelerating integrated water resources management efforts to decrease stress on food production, water supply and sanitation services.

Source protection for priority watersheds that serve the drinking water needs of millions of Africans is another critical factor,’’ Jacques Vermeulen, the Chief Executive, Coca-Cola Beverages Africa, whose RAIN has improved the lives of six million Africans.

To date, RAIN has helped more than 4,000 communities across 41 countries to gain improved access to clean water thanks through the work of the Coca-Cola Foundation.

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