Water Resources

Utsev Unveils Strategic Initiatives To Boost Food Production

The Honourable Minister of Water Resources and Sanitation, Engr. Prof. Joseph Terlumun Utsev has unveiled three new Strategic Initiatives aimed at boosting irrigation development and food production in Nigeria.

This was in alignment with President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s Renewed Hope Agenda and the Declaration of Emergency on Food Security in the country.

The Director of Press and Public Relations of the Ministry, Mrs. Funmi Imuetinyan who disclosed this in a statement on Thursday, said, the Minister unveiled the programmes during a 2-day familiarization tour of the Lower Benue River Basin Development Authority from December 19th – 21st, 2023, in Markurdi, Benue State.

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Mrs. Imuetinyan said, the initiatives were to also address the challenges identified during the assessment tour of the twelve River Basin Development Authorities by the Honourable Minister.

She said, Prof. Utsev expressed his determination to introduce fresh perspectives through the infusion of innovative measures into some of the flagship Projects and Programmes of the RBDAs.

She said, the Minister emphasised that the proposed measures were geared towards cultivating more irrigable lands, aggressively combating hunger, alleviating poverty, and propelling economic growth.

The statement said, Prof. Utsev also disclosed that the inauguration of the three new Programmes under his administration which include, Water for Expanded Irrigated Agriculture Programme (*WEIRPRO*), Partnership for Expanded Irrigation Programme ( *PEIRPRO*), and River Basin Strategy for Poverty Alleviation *(RB-SPA)* aimed to revolutionize Nigeria’s irrigated agricultural landscape, boost food security, create jobs and enhance economic growth.

According to the statement, the Honourable Minister noted that the Ministry was strategically committed to innovative Water Resources Management which aims to promote Integrated Water Resources Management and environmental sustainability, cultivate partnerships with State Governments and communities to enhance agricultural productivity, transitioning from traditional methods to a more scientific approach that guarantees all year round farming, more frequent cropping cycles and higher crop yields.

He emphasized the adoption of advanced farming techniques to alleviate the workload on farmers and highlighted the importance of community engagement to optimize land use.

He stressed the significance of training and capacity building, underlining the necessity for a robust tracking system for monitoring and evaluation. Furthermore, he emphasized the principles of accountability, performance with tangible outcomes, rewards, and consequence management.

The Honourable Minister directed the twelve River Basin Development Authorities, the Department of River Basin Operations and Inspectorate, and the Departments of Dams and Irrigation to formulate a comprehensive framework and strategies for implementing the three new programmes. He noted that the initiative will be overseen by the Permanent Secretary and emphasized the integration of the Presidential focus areas into the Ministry’s policies and programmes.

During the tour, the Honourable Minister visited the Tor Tiv, His Royal Majesty, Prof. James Iorza Ayatse, to receive Royal Blessings and inform him of the Federal Government’s Intervention Projects and Programmes which includes Water Supply, Dams, Irrigation, Sanitation, Flood and Erosion Control Projects in the Catchment Areas of Benue, Plateau, Nasarawa, and Kogi East Senatorial District, under the Lower Benue River Basin Development Authority.

Speaking about the Open Defecation-Free: Use the Toilet Campaign of the Federal Government, the Minister underscored the crucial supportive role of the Traditional Rulers and sought the assistance of the Tor Tiv in spreading the campaign message to his subjects for a healthier environment and promotion of healthy living.

In response, the Tor Tiv warmly welcomed the Minister and delegation to his Palace and congratulated him on his appointment by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, GCFR.

He expressed appreciation for the President’s decision and highlighted the strategic importance of the Ministry of Water Resources and Sanitation in sustaining life.

The Tor Tiv assured the Minister of guidance and commended the Minister’s courage, decorating him with the complete regalia of a distinguished Son of Tiv land.

The Minister commissioned the Lessel Dam and flagged off the Gajir/Abunde farming activity in Ushongo Local Government Area.

He also commissioned the Soil and GIS laboratories, inspected the rice mill, Songhai farms, issued certificates and starter packs to the 5th Batch of GYEP graduands, witnessed the induction of new entrants into the GYEP at the LBRBDA Headquarters in Markurdi and distributed Water Pumps to Representatives of Mbaku Community and farmers of Lower Benue, Markurdi farms, for granting 1,500 Hectares of irrigable land to the Federal Government for crop cultivation.

Prof. Utsev was accompanied on the visit by the Director of River Basin Operations and Inspectorate, Mr. AJ Ochigbo, the Managing Director of Lower Benue River Basin Development Authority, Engr. Mohammed O. Adra, Directors from the Ministry, and eminent personalities from Benue State.

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