- Nigeria Utilising Below 10% of 900 Dams – Minister
Out of the 900 dams in the country, less than 10 per cent have been utilised, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, has said.
Ogbeh said this in an interview published in the 2017/2018 Nigeria Outlook, an investment and governance journal, obtained by our correspondent in Abuja on Sunday.
The minister also stated that the Bank of Agriculture was struggling to recover N30bn owed it by farmers.
Reservoirs created by dams are used to suppress floods and provide water for irrigation, human consumption, industrial use and aquaculture.
Ogbeh stated that the ministries of Agriculture and Rural Development and Water Resources had constructed about 900 dams, out of which less than 10 per cent had been put into use.
He said, “We work together (both ministries); we do big and large dams, close to 900. But believe me, less than 10 per cent, maybe five per cent, have been used. Some of the big ones have been there since the Second Republic, wasting away, just full of sand but we are working together now with the Ministry of Water Resources to utilise those resources for irrigation.
“We need irrigation. One of the dangers facing us is that of the possibility of a drought. It comes once in a while in many countries. It has been in Central Africa for nearly seven years now. It’s in East Africa and we fear it might happen. We are going to intensify the irrigation and build the partnership between us and the Ministry of Water Resources to go to the level where when they finish the dam, we can join hands with them and lease it out to farmers.”
Speaking on efforts to restructure the Bank of Agriculture, Ogbeh said one of the problems that had been encountered in the process was that the operations of the lender had been manual, adding that efforts were being put in place to digitise its operations.
He said another challenge that had been witnessed in the process was the collection of the N30bn owed the bank by farmers.
The minister said that the government was giving the farmers who were indebted to the bank more time to pay up since they were making more money through the sale of their produce.