An unprecedented influx into irrigation farming for this year’s dry season farming has exhausted the Jare river to its bed in Bakori, Katsina State, a situation that has alarmed wheat farmers along the river side.
Over the years, only few farmers were taking advantage of the river to cultivate tomato, cabbage, lettuce, onion and cucumber.
But the current economic recession, coupled with the government’s agricultural policies, has seen many farmers swarming the 9km river side mostly for the cultivation of wheat and Irish potato.
One of the irrigation farmers, Abdullahi Mohammed Isah, told Daily Trust that the water track dried up early this year due to the growing number of irrigation farms that depend on the river.
“In the last few years the demand was not much because many farmers were not interested in irrigation farming as the case this year. Some of us now resort to digging shallow wells on the river bed to water our crops,” Abdullahi said.
He added that the only functional irrigation site is the Bakori irrigation dam which has been massively occupied by farmers of various crops hence the river side had been fully taken over by farms.
Another farmer, Alhaji Musa Fari, said they were completely stranded as the only source of water they depended on was fast drying up.
“We have tried our own efforts to dig shallow wells inside the river to source the water but that would not last us long like wash bowls. Last month WACOT (West African Cotton Company Limited) visited our irrigation site and drilled one wash bores, many of us developed interest and are willing to comply with the terms and condition for the establishment of the wash bores but to date the company’s officials are yet to come back,” Alhaji Musa Fari said.
He further said that in order to escape the high risks in tomato farming – ranging from pest attack, lack of preservation facility and unstable market price – many farmers have shifted to the cultivation of wheat and Irish potato; adding that farmers in the area are patiently complying with the government’s agricultural policies until the desired result is achieved.
When contacted the WACOT national manager seed section, Dr Mahavir Singh, promised to revisit the irrigation site for assessment.
“We must establish if the farmers are genuinely in need of the wash bores and if their irrigation site is in low land area for sufficient water underneath. After we drill the wash bores we then supply the farmers with water pump machine at the rate of N50,000 which he pays in three months installments of N10,000 each after the initial N20,000 up-front payment,” said Dr Mahavir.