Importance of Irrigation in Nigeria

Nigeria’s agricultural sector accounts for over 30% of the Gross Domestic Product in Q1 of 2022. Irrigation is of enormous benefit to the agricultural sector in Nigeria in several ways. From increasing the amount of agriculturally productive land to helping crop growth, irrigation is highly important in Nigeria. This article will discuss the importance of irrigation in Nigeria.

Importance of Irrigation in Nigeria

The importance of irrigation in Nigeria will be discussed below:

  • Functional Alternative in Seasons of Low Rainfall

Crops need adequate water to thrive. Irrigation compensates for when there’s no rainfall or when it’s insufficient. Shortage of water is inimical to crop production, as water is an important element needed for growth. Farmers who have irrigation systems set up on their farms are assured that their crops receive the needed moisture and nutrients all year round. Therefore, the problem of crop failure or food shortage due to lack of water in farms across the country can be effectively curbed by making use of irrigation systems.

  • Irrigation Increases Amount of Cultivable Land

Some lands are hard and dry, making it difficult for vegetation to thrive well when planted. Irrigation has been responsible for revegetating disturbed soils in dry areas, thus turning such lands into cultivable lands, which increases the amount of agriculturally productive land. In Nigeria, there is low precipitation in the northern part of the country resulting in aridity and desertification. Irrigation projects in the northern part of the country have been responsible for enhancing the soil quality of dry land, which invariably increases the amount of cultivable land available to farmers. Also, irrigation brings out the best in fallow lands as the soil gains nutrients needed for the next farming season.

  • Contributes to the Economic Growth of the Nigerian Economy

Irrigation is intended to achieve continuity of food production irrespective of the season. This translates to continuous income and employment in the agricultural sector. Farmers, farm workers, and related workforce earn from the continuous production of food year-round. Without irrigation, in seasons where rainfall is scarce, or when the ground is hard due to lack of moisture, the farmer and workers will experience income deficit or seasonal unemployment, which invariably impacts negatively on the economy. Also, if there is a shortage of food due to the lack of water needed to grow crops, the traders that deal in such agricultural produce will experience an income deficit during seasons of low rainfall. In addition, irrigation ensures that agricultural exports do not decline in seasons of low rainfall. So, irrigation contributes to the economic growth of the Nigerian economy by reducing employment and by ensuring income is earned by farmers, farmworkers and traders of agricultural produce.

  • Efficiency in Water Supply to Crops

As the farmer cannot control when it rains and how long it rains, it may be difficult for him to provide his crops with the needed amount of water to grow optimally. For instance, it may rain early in the morning, and then get a bit warm later on, leading to evaporation, which reduces the water content in the soil for crops to use. But with irrigation systems, the farmer can supply water to his crops in the right quantity and at the right time. The farmer can set up the irrigation systems to supply water to crops at times when the evaporation levels are low to achieve Improved crop production.

  • Irrigation Allows for Even Supply of Water to Agricultural Crops

Farmers of large farms are sometimes faced with the problem of far-reaching crops in the field missing out on adequate water supply. When the crops are being watered, water from the hose may not touch crops that are far out well. And it is not helpful to the crops this way. Irrigation systems, such as the drip irrigation model, are designed to reach out to all parts of the planting area. So, all the crops in the planting area can benefit from adequate water supply from the irrigation systems set up on the farm.

  • Irrigation Allows for Multi-cropping

As a tropical country, Nigeria has specific rainy seasons which makes it impossible to grow multiple crops at a time. But with irrigation systems set up on a farm, it is possible to grow multiple crops at the same time in most parts of Nigeria. Thus, this translates to additional revenue for the farmer with the ripple effect extending to the farm workers and the local economy at large.

  • Irrigation Increases Agricultural Production to Meet Demand

The population of Nigeria is estimated at around 216 million as of 2022, and this means there is an increased demand for food. Insufficient rainfall and dry uncultivable soil are some factors that impede efforts of achieving food security. But with irrigation systems in place, crops will have access to moisture in times of low rainfall, and dry and hard soil not fit for planting can be revegetated. Irrigation also makes it possible for a farmer to practice multiple farming, as well as farming on a piece of land all year round. Irrigation also helps in increasing the productivity of livestock. In essence, irrigation helps farmers meet the increasing food demands from the population by increasing agricultural production.

  • Irrigation Aids in Cooling Livestock

In the dry seasons when the sun is harsh, it inhibits the optimal performance of livestock. Livestock farmers are usually concerned with the heat stress faced by their livestock. In dairy livestock such as dairy cows, heat stress suppresses appetite which results in a reduction in the quantity of milk produced. In addition to lack of appetite, heat stress also causes reproductive inefficiency in dairy livestock which delays lactation. Irrigation is one of the proven methods used to reduce the heat on livestock when the temperature rises. The sprinkling irrigation system intermittently sprinkles water on the back of livestock (cows, pigs, etc.) which causes the livestock to regulate their temperature through evaporative cooling. When heat stress in livestock, such as dairy cows, is controlled using irrigation, they will be more productive, which positively impacts the farmer’s income.








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