Ikere Gorge dam: Okeogun farmers buy N18,000 water daily •Call on FG to complete the dam project

The site of the dam partially eroded. PHOTO: RUTH OLUROUNBI

Some farmers in Iseyin, Oke-ogun area of Oyo State have lamented that they buy more than N12,000 worth of water daily, even during the dry season.

The farmers, who complained that they could not farm during the dry season because of water scarcity, called on the Federal Government to complete the Ikere Gorge Dam, which if completed, could serve their water needs.

The reservoir has capacity of 690 million cubic, Nigerian Tribune was told.

It will be recalled that the World Bank had predicted earlier in the year that water scarcity in Africa has the potential to increase food prices on the continent.

The farmers, who spoke with the Nigerian Tribune on Friday, when this reporter paid a visit to the town farm, said the incomplete project was hampering their farming process.

According to them, if the dam had been completed earlier, they could have been able to farm year-round but this was not possible given the situation on the ground.

They described the current situation as a shame, saying that there was a dam that could serve their irrigation needs around them, but it is not functional.

It will be recalled that the dam was initiated by the military regime of General Olusegun Obasanjo and started in 1983 by the administration of Shehu Shagari.

Records show that the dam was planned to generate 3750 MW of electricity, to supply water to local communities and to irrigate 12,000 hectares of land.

The dam, which was built in the 1982/1983, has witnessed abandonment by military and democratic governments, the farmers said.

An engineer on site, who did not want his name in the papers said the dam has been under contract since 2010 during the democratic dispensation and was supposed to have been completed in 2014.

Miftah Adediran, who has more than 18,000 hectares of farmlands in Otu, Itesiwaju Local Government Area, 19 kilometres from Iseyin, said as a commercial farmer, he could not farm during the dry season because there was no water to farm.

He said on the average, even during the raining season, he bought N12,000 worth of water every day, which according to him was not sustainable during the dry season.

A tank of water costs N3,000, a water seller, who gave his name is Baba Kudi said.

Adediran explained he could not depend on the rains alone for his 180 hectares of maize and 220 hectares of cassava farms, he needed to buy more water to supplement the rains.

He said it was important that the federal government  quickly completed the dam for the farmers in the area.

A cassava farmer in the area, Alhaji Mukail Ajobo told the Nigerian Tribune that apart from daily challenges confronting the farmers, water shortages was a pressing issue the farmers in the areas would want the government to work on “very urgently.”

According to him, he buys more than N18,000 worth of water every day for his farm uses.

Ajobo farms more than 500 hectares of cassava, excluding other farm crops.

Biodun Olowe, another farmer in the area, said “we can only plead with the government to complete this project. We need the water irrigate our farms,” adding that although she would have loved to farm her 10 acres of maize and other commodities during the dry season, could not meet with the water demands during the dry seasons.

When the Nigerian Tribune got to the site of the dam, it noticed that the dam has been partially eroded and equipment are rotting away.

The partial erosion was caused by years of neglect and rains which flooded the water pathway, the engineer explained.

If completed, the water level in the dam would be more than 50 metres deep, about is about six miles wide and 10 miles long, the engineer said, adding that the dam has the capacity to six megawatts of electricity to meet the power needs of the people of the area, as well as their industrialisation needs.