Tomato growers in Kano State have lost over N1 billion this dry season farming following the recent closure of Tiga Dam by the Hadeja-Jama’are River Basin Development Authority (HJRBDA).
The Secretary General of the Tomato Growers Association of Nigeria (TOGAN), Alhaji Sani Danladi-Yadakwari, disclosed this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Kano, the state capital, on Monday, January 22, 2018.
According to him, the closure of the water from the dam which is the main source of water for irrigation activities at all irrigation sites in the state had negatively affected tomato production this irrigation season by 60 per cent.
“Kano State is producing over 400,000 metric tons of tomato every dry season because farmers cultivate over 2,000 hectares of irrigable land.
“So the recent closure of the dam by the Hadeja-Jama’are River Basin Development Authority has affected 60,000 of our production due to drought,” he said.
According to him, tomato growers in the state had lost 250,000 tons of the commodity which represents 60 per cent of their total production.
He said the water which was closed for over 40 days would affect bumper harvest of the commodity as most of the tomato farms had experienced serious water shortage during the period.
“Many of our members had planted the tomato when suddenly the HJRBDA closed the dam and the closure had affected our farms.
He, therefore, advised the authority to always notify critical holders whenever they wanted to conduct maintenance of facilities at the dam site to avoid a repeat of similar problem.
“The authority should have given us and all other irrigation farmers three weeks notice before the commencement of maintenance at the dam.
“But they did not tell us until after they started the work and the closure had affected many tomato farms at Kura, Garunmalam, Bunkure and some parts of Rano irrigation sites,” he said.
According to him, the association had written to the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, over the issue with a view to finding a lasting solution to the problem. When contacted, the Public Relations Officer of the Hadeja-Jama’are River Basin Development Authority (HJRBDA), Alhaji Salisu Baba-Hamza, said the authority had contacted Chairman and Secretary of the water users association before the commencement of the maintenance at the dam.
In addition, he said, the management of the HJRBDA had sponsored jingles announcement for one week on some radio stations before the repairs of the affected place was started at the dam.
According to him, the repairs of the affected place was necessary in order to avoid possible collapse of the embankment of the dam.
“What happened was that the outlet of Tiga Dam which supply water to the channels collapses and water was going through a place where it could affect the embankment of the dam.
“The project manager reported the issue and management had to close the outlet in order to effect repairs of the affected area.
“So, it is not true that the farmers were not contacted before the closure of the dam,” he said.
The Tiga Dam provides irrigation for the farmers of Kano. It is a major reservoir on the Kano River, the main tributary of the Hadejia River. The dam was built during the administration of Governor Audu Bako in an attempt to improve food security through irrigation projects.
By Tukur Muntari