Dry Season Farming: River Basin to Introduce Solar-powered Irrigation by 2024

LOWER Niger River Basin Development Authority (LNRBDA) is set to introduce Solar-powered irrigation pumps by 2024 in its operation as part of moves to strengthen dry season farming in the country and ensuring food security.

Speaking during the closing ceremony of a 3-day training programme for selected 90 members of staff in different categories, themed ‘institutional strengthening and capacity development for LNRBDA staff’ conducted by Synergy Impact Consultants Limited in Ilorin, the Kwara State capital, the Managing Director of the authority, Dr. Adeniyi Saheed Aremu, said that the purpose was to ensure food sufficiency and achieve reduction in food prices.

“We started first with irrigation pump that use PMS and diesel. But now we want to move to irrigation pump that will use solar and renewable energy. By 2024, we want to change all our irrigation pumps to solar powered pumps so that we won’t depend on petrol.

“You realise that we eat everyday and so we must produce food everyday. We are not depending on rain-fed agriculture alone again. We want to strengthen our dry season farming. That’s why we want to move to solar system. Even with that, we want to move another step forward. After the solar system, we want to again move further to capitalise on hydraulic system between one surface and the other to really get water to our fields, rather than depending on energy from the national grid”.

Dr. Aremu, who said that the training programme aimed to improve capacity of staff to perform set objectives, mission, visions and mandate of the authority, added that the selected staff that received the training would in turn train field workers and then get it to ordinary farmers in the project and area offices in their local languages.

“The idea is for us to look inward first within the headquarters and move down to farmers in rural areas. We want to see how we can cushion effect of what we are experiencing as a result of removal of fuel subsidy, especially among our farmers. We want to increase capacity of farmers and reduce cost of crop and food production, reduce cost of agric value chain and, in effect, reduce price of crop in the market”, he said.

The LNRBDA boss, who said that the training programme would enhance food security in respect of Renewed Hope agenda of the current administration, added: “We want to find a way of making food available to all households in Nigeria at affordable prices.

“When the cost of production is reduced, the cost of the end product will reduce. That’s our own way as Lower Niger River Basin Development Authority of reducing cost of production and ensuring food security. And once you have enough food, perhaps we’ll even export some of the ones we’ve produced”.

One of the resource persons at the programme, Engineer Ayodele Adesina, said that emphasis of the training was social strengthening, adding that the focus was on team collaboration and information sharing.

“The emphasis was on how to ensure that you don’t work in silos but leverage on expertise of different professionals and be able to bring about redefinition to service delivery at work place. On information sharing, this would make information from top gets to the bottom effectively and it’s leveraged upon to implement renewed hope agenda of the President”, he said.

Some of the sub-themes of the training programme for the 90 staff members that were categorised in three batches of 30 each, included; Introduction of new performance management system, Reforms and innovation in public workplace, and Awareness in work ethics and compliance in public service.

One of the participants, who spoke on behalf of the rest, Mrs. Moji Akinpeloye, described the training as impactful and appreciated the management of the authority for the opportunity.

She on their behalf pledged to make the knowledge garnered reflect in the discharge of their responsibility and duties at their respective places of work.