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Published On: Tue, Mar 25th, 2014

FAO to assist Nigeria develop national irrigation policy

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Minister of Water Resources, Mrs Sarah Reng OchekpeThe Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) is currently assisting Nigeria to develop its irrigation policy and strategy, the Country Representative, Ms. Louise Setshwaelo, said on Tuesday.

Setshwaelo told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja the assistance was in line with the UN agency’s five strategic objectives in Nigeria, which is anchored on its Global Corporate Strategic Framework.

“We, at the FAO, are currently working with the Ministry of Water Resources to help it to develop the irrigation policy and strategy; this should really guide the investment on irrigation in the country.

“This should be anchored on the National Water Policy that has been developed.

“We need to be able to guide water use in the country and distribution of water and who has access.

“When we talk about irrigation, of course the irrigators will have to pay certain fee for access to the use of that water but we need to determine how much.

“We have consultants who have been going around in the states discussing with the people in the states, the stakeholders, on what issues we should be looking at in developing the irrigation policy.’’

According to her, the consultants have also been discussing with the River Basin Development Authorities along the areas of support to the farmers, the irrigators and providing the technical assistance extension.

She also said that issues relating to water use itself, land and water management and payment for the water by the irrigators would be discussed.

The consultants, she said, had gone round the country to collate stakeholders’ views on the issues and had met on March 10, to consolidate their findings.

She further said that a stakeholders’ forum was being planned to examine the issues thrown up by the states and the River Basin Development Authorities.

“We are planning actually to have a stakeholders’ forum here so that we look at the issues that were brought by the states and the River Basin Authorities and see what would be the priority areas that the policy and strategy should really look at.’’

The FAO representative also said that the agency was also strengthening Nigeria’s national seed system by developing the strategy and revising the regulatory framework for quality control on seeds.

She, however, said that she could not provide specific details as discussions were still ongoing with the National Seeds Council and the Federal Government.

“We’re still discussing with the seed agency and the government; we have our expert on seed law arriving here over the weekend. We have a draft that we are discussing with the government.

“We have another expert arriving at the same time, looking at seed quality issues, the seed inspectors, looking at how we need to empower them and provide them with extra training; looking at the seed laboratories and also updating the protocol.

“So, we have two experts who are arriving this weekend.’’

Setshwaelo explained that the FAO’s assistance was to complement the government’s efforts by contributing in the areas of its comparative advantage, noting also the support of other development partners in those areas.

She said that the FAO Country Programming Framework (CPF) for the Federal Republic of Nigeria was developed in 2012 and that it would guide the work of the organisation up until 2017.

Meanwhile, NAN reports that the 28th Session of the FAO Regional Conference on Africa will hold in Tunis from March 24 to March 28, with the theme “African Youth in Agriculture and Rural Development’’.

The conference is expected to bring together ministers of agriculture and senior government officials from FAO member countries in the region.

According to the statement issued in Rome and made available to NAN in Abuja on Tuesday, the conference will also attract members of civil society groups and their partners.

The meeting, being organised by the FAO in collaboration with the Government of Tunisia, will feature a Ministerial Roundtable, Youth and Development of Aquaculture and Livestock in Africa and other events.

The statement said that the delegates would discuss issues relating to current state and perspectives of food and agriculture in Africa, including African youth in the food sector and rural development, and the state of food and agriculture in the region.

The conference will also include the implementation of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) with special focus on small farmers and family farming.

The delegates will also hold a follow-up to the High-Level Meeting of African and International Leaders on “Towards African Renaissance: Renewed Partnership for Unified Approach to End Hunger in Africa by 2025 under the CAADP Framework”. (NAN)

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