Water, Agric ministries’ partnership will achieve year-round food security mandate – FG

By Tosin Kolade

The Federal Ministry of Water Resources and Sanitation has called for renewed collaboration with its Agriculture and Food Security counterpart toward achieving the nation’s food security mandate.

The Permanent Secretary in the ministry, Alhaji Shehu Shinkafi, made the call at the opening of the 30th meeting of the National Technical Committee on Water Resources and Sanitation in Abuja on Monday.

He spoke on the theme of the meeting: “People, Planet and Prosperity: Promoting Water Governance for National Food Security’’.

Shinkafi said that the collaboration was needed against the backdrop of the recently-declared state of emergency on food security by the Federal Government.

He also said that it was in line with the Renewed Hope Agenda of the government.

According to him, matters relating to food and water availability and affordability have been placed within the purview of the National Security Council.

He said that it was imperative to engage the security architecture to protect farms and farmers and the commitment to cultivate 500,000 hectares of farmland nationwide.

“To align with the state of emergency on food security, the ministry has introduced three flagship programmes: Water for Expanded Irrigated Agriculture Programme, Partnership for Expanded Irrigation Programme and River Basin Strategy for Poverty Alleviation (RB-SPA).

“Implementation of these programmes has already begun, marked by the launch of the dry season farming covering 120,000 hectares of land in Jigawa State in November 2023,” he said.

Shinkafi said that the initiative was aimed at creating between five million to 10 million jobs within the agricultural value chain, adding that it would address the rising cost of food and its impact on citizens.

He highlighted the crucial role of water governance in achieving national food security, stressing the need to harness impounded water in dams for irrigation activities and exploration of project models such as Transforming Irrigation Management in Nigeria of the World Bank.

The permanent secretary expressed gratitude to development partners and others for support, urging continued efforts to achieve Sustainable Development Goals in the water and sanitation sector.

A water resources expert, Mr Inuwa Kuta, said that achieving water governance for food security was essential and about deliberately putting programmes that would improve the lives of the population.

According to him, effective water governance is acknowledged as a key factor to impactful food security and socio-economic development of any nation.

He said that addressing water governance challenges in food security would be possible when water resources management would be ensured in all sectors of the economy.

Kuta called for more efforts to sustainably grow more food with less diverted water without degrading the ecosystem and by eradicating poverty and hunger by providing water for life and livelihood for all.

Mr Shubham Chaudhuri, the Country Director of World Bank, said that quality governance was vital to the achievement of food security.

Chaudhuri, who was represented by Mr Chinedu Emmanuel, highlighted national food security as a priority of the current administration.

He, however, acknowledged the complexity of achieving the target solely at the federal level, and urged full participation from states.

He said that with an active portfolio exceeding two billion dollars in concessionary finances exclusively for the water sector, the World Bank had been collaborating closely with Nigeria, specifically the Federal Ministry of Water Resources and Sanitation.

He mentioned the Transforming Irrigation Agenda in Nigeria as one of the supported projects, saying that it was designed to actualise national food security through irrigation and drainage development.

Mr Samuel Atang, the representative of the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Mr Nyesom Wike, pledged the commitment of Wike’s administration to prioritising access to water, sanitation and hygiene.

He said that the role of water infrastructure in the nation’s capital was crucial, and called for collective efforts to foster change.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the National Council on Water Resources and Sanitation, the apex policy-making body for the water sector, has been at the forefront of providing policy guidance for the sector. 

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