Ahead of the much awaited farming season, young and old farmers in Damaturu, Yobe State capital and environs are upbeat that good fortunes will smile on them this time around.
One person who as this blessed assurance is Bukar Sani, a youth farmer at Garin Gada in Geidam Local Government. Sani, along with his friends looked at the merciless bulldozer as it smashed trees and shrubs standing on its way, moving in a hurry as though it was going to crash.
But the heavy duty machine leaves behind a vast land that stretches to about 500 hectares which Bukar and his friends nod with satisfaction that enough farmland is now at their disposal to carry out their dry farming activities.
It is not the only heavy duty machine in sight. On top of two elevated huge heaps of soil not far from each other with a massive passage in between them is another heavy duty machine building two long heaps to form a water canal that stretches more than three kilometers.
From both sides of the vast land is a six water field water channels connecting the long canal that would service the over 2800 farmers that would be engaged on the scheme.
What excites the farmers more according to Sani is the commitment of KAWADGARBO Road & Bridge Co. Ltd, (the company handling the project) to deliver the project to government to hand it over to them by March this year to start irrigation farming activities on the site.
“We are anxious to see that this project is completed and handed over to the government so that the government can give us the allocation to begin our farming activities. We can’t wait. But what we are really happy is that the Chinese contractor is working hard to finish the project from what we the villagers are seeing,” Bukar said.
Bulama Alkali, 29 has also demonstrated his anxiety over the irrigation project with the hope of achieving great fortunes as soon as it kicks off.
According to him tilling the soil is where the goldmine is and he is determined to break even from the all round year farming scheme Governor Ibrahim Gaidam has initiated in the state for the youths.
For Abdullahi Shehu, farming without adequate rainfall has been very frustrating but the irrigation farming would bridge the gap for us to have adequate water to farm throughout the year.
“With the desert and lack of rainfall, farming in the part of the state has been a waste of time. We work very hard and produce little to consume. Our stories are nothing but frustration. But with what Gov. Gaidam is doing for us in this place, it’s going to be a different story entirely. For us, we know nothing but farming. If we can get water throughout the year, we cannot stop farming. Moreso, this one is going to be different because, government support will enhance production,” Abdullahi said.
It is pertinent to emphasise that the stories of these young farmers from Giedam represents the larger picture of the challenges farmers in the state especially the ones from the northern axis of Yobe face annually in their attempt to engage in farming and food production.
Worried by the perennial and chronic hardship of farmers in the state, Governor Ibrahim Gaidam in September 2015 constituted a five man adhoc committee with a clear mandate of designing and implementing an effective modality for the revival of irrigation farming in Yobe State on a larger scale.
In his vision, government’s involvement in supporting irrigation farming in the state would to a very large extent curb the level of unemployment in the state as well as boost its food security. In the same vein, the governor believed that setting up the taskforce has become imperative due to the emerging climatic change resulting to limited rainfall which often create adverse effect on arable crops production in the state.
From the projection of the project, Yobe State Government is expected to generate job opportunities to over 40,000 youths in the state annually.
According to the governor, statistics show that the state is endowed with a massive 366,000 hectares of irrigation land, unfortunately, only 30,000 to 40,000 are being put to use. A situation he vowed his administration is determined to reverse.
Clearly as a way of sharing the pains of the farmers and with that determination to shift focus due the compelling climate change, Governor Gaidam said, “We consider the development of irrigation as very important in the state because we can no longer continue to depend on rain-fed agriculture in view of the very serious challenges it poses to agricultural development in the state.
“The situation is further aggravated by climate change, shift in growing season and limited rainfall period with the attendant effects on most arable crops in the state,” Governor Gaidam said.
He also revealed that between 34,000 to 50,000 hectares had been identified which could create job for hundreds of citizens in the state.
The state is endowed with 14 seasonal and perennial Rivers and streams with the Yobe River being the longest, covering a distance of over 200 kilometres which needs to be tapped to the fullest.
To further demonstrate his commitment to the realisation of the irrigation projects in the state, Gov. Ibrahim Gaidam underwent an international study tour with the Chairman of the Irrigation Taskforce Committee, Engr. Gambomi Goni and other key government officials to the Peoples Republic of China where he visited the cooperate headquarters of RainFine Irrigation Company, one of the leading irrigation companies in China to draw some international best practices to inject into the Yobe Irrigation Scheme Project.