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RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT STRATEGIES FOR FARMER- MANAGED IRRIGATION PROJECTS IN NIGERIA-^

Owonubi, J.J,, S. Abdulmumin and J.Y. Yayock Institute for Agricultural Research, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria.

INTRODUCTION

Irrigation is an age-old practice in Nigeria. Most

reliable estimates of fadama-based irrigation in the eourrt^Y—

put the hectarageat about one million, made up of small

holdings

of less than 0.5ha each.

This is the valleys of

streams, rivers and lakes which are traditionally cropped

during the dry season. The cropping relied on reserve soil

moisture in fairly clayey soils and locally designed water-

lilting devices (shadoof). But

from the early 1970s the

Nigerian Federal Government invested about

of its

agricultural sector allocation to the development of the

country's river basins.

This very recent development of large-scale irrigation

schemes necessitated that basic information on the application

of the water, and dry season agronomy be generated and

1_/ Faper presented at the National Workshop on Farmer- Participation in Irrigation Development and Management:

Prospects and constraints, sponsored by the Ford Foundation and IAR, Samaru, 7 and 8 May, 1990.

P v s c e O W j

m o ir-aip

(Wtfctf; /V m til P-kuTT

disseminated to largely rain-fed subsistent farmers. The

location of sub-stations of the Institute for Agricultural

Research, Samaru (IAR) within the project areas of Hadejia-

Jama'are and the Sokoto-Rima, coupled with the Institute's

pioneering studies at Ngala in the Chad Basin, have allowed

the assembly of research results which, today, constitute

the bed-rock of large-scale irrigation management in Nigeria.

As the country is, again, at the point of deciding how much

and on what to invest to boost agricultural production within

the schemes, the national research system-wdlL^be_chai1.anggd

to provide the fabrics upon which such decisions will be based

This paper is intended to epen up discussion on this crucial

subject. The paper highlights the IAR irrigation research

programme to-date, recounts its achievements and constraints

and comments on the more recent involvement of the Institute

in the improvement of farmer participation in irrigation

management.

THE IAR IRRIGATION RESEARCH PROGRAMME

Irrigation is only one of 8 research programmes of the

IAR. The programme is multi-disciplinary, pooling in

prcfessionals from the six disciplinary departments within

the Institute (Agricultural Economics and Rural Sociology,

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Viewed in its totality, the expected role of the

Irrigation Research Programme- range from the identification

of irrigatahle land, estimation of available water, design

of water storage, conveyance and irrigation systems through

irrigation scheduling, identification of suitable cropping

systems, soil conservation, fertilizer use, socio-economics

of irrigation, and prevention of such problems as salinity,

water-logging, weed infestation, insect-pest and disease

build-up.

The limited number of researchers as well as the

low level of funding have however, constrained most of the

research activities within the development of methodologies

for efficient management of the soil, water, crop and

environment.

ACHIEVEMENTS

While research results from the Irrigation Research

Programme over the past 1£ years cannot be fully documented

for lack of time and space, we have detailed some of the

highlights in the following paragraphs, particularly as a

reference to generate appropriate discussion for future

research and policy orientation.

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(a) Growing Season

In general, crops and cropping patterns under tradi­

tional agriculture have been adopted to suit the rainfall

pattern and to minimise the risk of failure. However,

with irrigation, several dry season crops (including wheat,

barley, onion, tomato and vegetables) can be grown in the

Sudan and Sahel savannas (Fig. 1) with moderate to high

productivity. In addition, such traditional crops as

rice, soyabean, maize and some vegetables are being

tried under supplementary irrigation.

Important crops grown in the savanna can be divided

into two groups namely:

  • i. cool season crops such as wheat, barley, and

peas, whose cardinal temperatures are reXatively

low; and

ii.

warm season crops -such as millet, maize, rice,

groundnut, cotton and cowpeas, which require

slightly higher temperatures.

On the basis of cardinal temperatures and field experiments,

the optimum planting times of various crops durirgthe dry

season have been determined as given in Table 1 after Kumar

et al. (1987).

Table 1;

Optimum cropping season of irrigated crops in the dry savanna region of Nigeria.

Crop

Planting

Harvest

Yield Performance

Cool (dry) Season

 

theat (a) early

November

March-April

Optimum

 

(b)

late

mid Dec-mid Jan

March-April

Moderate to Poor

Barley

November

March

Optimum

Potato (Irish)

Oct-mid-Nov

February

Optimum

Onion

Oct-mid-Nov

March-April

Optimum (transplanting)

Tobacco

 

November

March-April

Optimum (transplanting)

Warm Season

 

Maize (a) early

mid-Sept-mid Oct

Jan-Feb

Moderate

 

(b)

late

mid-March

July

Moderate

Rice

(a) early

Oct

February

Moderate

 

(transplanting)

 

(b)

late

March

June

Moderate

 

(transplanting)

Cowpeas

Sept-Oct

J an-F eb

Moderate

Soyabean

 

Sept-Oct

Jan-Feb

Moderate

Groundnuts

September

February

Moderate to Poor (Sequentially branched cultivars)

Cotton

mid-May

October

Optimum (pre-sown irrigated crops)

Sorghum

 

mid-May

October

Optimum (pre-sown irrigated crops)

Sugarcane

mid-Sept-Oct

Oct-Dec

Optimum

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  • (b) Cropping Pattern

Various factors of farm management, labour

requirements, labour availability, demand, marketing,

and economics of crop production must be considered in

deciding the cropping patterns for irrigated farming.

In irrigation project areas it is possible to grow

more than one crop in one year in a field. Experience

in the savanna region of Nigeria shows that a 200%

cropping intensity or more is practically feasible under

irrigation. In view of resource constraints, however,

a cropping intensity of 165% (Table 2) was initially

recommended for Nigerian large-scale irrigation projects,

with a gradual increase to a final intensity of 180%,

although IAR results show that cropping intensity can be

increased up to 300% (Chari, 1980; Chari and Maurya, 1982).

Table 2: Proposed cropping patterns for irrigated soils of the dry savanna zone of Nigeria expressed as percentage of cultivated land area.

Wet Season

Area

Dry Season

Crops

(°/o)

Crops

..

Rice

20

Wheat/Barley

Maize

20

Onions

Sorghum

10

Tomatoes

Groundnuts

10

Rice-Maize

Cowpeas

10

Vegetables^ ( I )

'

Cotton

/.x

10

Vegetables^ '

5

 

Total

"8F

Area

$5

10

5

5

5

W

(T) Includes carbbage, cauliflower, peas, lettuce, cucumber and melons.

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(c) Crop Rotation

Research on irrigated crop rotation is still at

infancy in Nigeria. Efforts are being made

to study

the most productive and profitable crop sequences

under improved management conditions. Results so far

show that under 300% cropping intensity, a total

economic yield of over 5t/ha is realizable with the

following sequences:

  • (i) Maize - Cowpea - Wheat

(ii)

Sorghum - Sorghum ratoon & Cowpea - Wheat

(iii)

Maize & Groundnut - Cowpea - Wheat

Among the 200% cropping intensity treatments, grain

yield

of crops

exceed Ipt/ha for all combinations with

wheat.

In the Kano River Project, it was

observed

that the yield

of wheat increased by over 15>% when

rotated with groundnut as compared to rotation with

any other wet season crop (Kumar and Mayaki, 1986).

There is much scope in growing cotton in rotation

with dry season crops under irrigation. At Kadawa,

Kano there have been reports of seed cotton yields of

over

1.7t/ha (June sown) and

2.7t/ha of wheat grain

grown in rotation. As a result of early planting

of

the cotton and its treatment with a maturity-aided

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chemical, paraquat, it is possible to increase the wheat

yield to over

I4_.1

t/ha as a result of timely sowing compared

to 1 .5 t/ha under late-sown condition.

(d) Fertilizer Application

Judicious application of fertilizers increases

yield and water-use efficiency of irrigated crops.

A wheat crop yielding 3t/ha of grain with a grain/

straw ratio

of 0.8 removes

about 92Kg N, 20Kg P and

62Kg K/ha. In view of the heavy demand of major

nutrients, wheat responded favourably to fertilizer

nitrogen up

to 15>0Kg N/ha.

However, in most

of the

field trials during 197ip-79» the incremental yield

above 100Kg N/ha was not attractive (Balasubramanian,

Singh and Palmer, 1985).

Response of wheat to phosrhorus level depends on

soil type and/or soil phosphorus level. The response

increased with intensive cultivation. A level of 22Kg

P/ha was recommended as economic optimum for Nigerian

savanna (Aremu and Singh, 1 9 8 9 ).

Till recently, no potassium fertilizer was

recommended for wheat. However, continuous cultivation

without K application has been shown to deplete soil K

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PST increases by 61mm with each degree increase in

latitude; the difference between PET and rainfall

being maximum in the Sahel zone (1600 - l800mm).

Irrigation water is therefore a critical input in the

savanna not only in the dry season but also as supple­

mentary application in the wet season especially in the

Sudan and Sahel savannas.

(f) Supplementary Irrigation in Wet Season

In the drought prone Sudan and Sahel savannas,

sowing wet season crops at establishment of rainfall

often delays the sowing of dry season crops.

Pre-sowing

irrigation at the onset of rains increased yield of

cotton and groundnut ranging from 100-300% (Table 3)

and also allowed timely sowing of dry season wheat.

Table 3; Effect of supplementary irrigation on Yield (Kg/ha) of wet season cotton and groundnut at Kadawa, Kano.

Irrigation

Seed Cotton

Groundnut pods

Rainfed

1586

788

Pre-sowing

3770

NA

Pre- and Post sowing

3533

2232

NA = Not

available

More research efforts are needed on supplementary irrigation

of wet season crops especially in the Sahel zone.

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The IAR had shown considerable interest in the

efficiency of irrigation in the two major projects in

its mandate area from their inception.

Most of the

studies have focussed on the tertiary canals through

the farmers' fields.

Less detailed surveys have been

conducted across the country.

In all, most

of our

schemes are operating at less than 30 per cent efficiency.

(i) Irrigation Hazards

Irrigation research was started at Kadawa by IAR

in 197i|. As early as 1971?, IAR researchers observed

waterlogging problems in Kadawa as a result of poor

maintenance of canals and drains; and seepage from head

reaches of canals.

Water table now exists at depths

between 0 and 60cm during the rains at Hadejia Jama'are

project.

Considerable amount of surface-applied salt remains

at 0-10cm when irrigation interval exceeds 11+ days.

Salt is leached quickly with the 6-day irrigation

interval and reaches even to 60cm deptn with the first

irrigation. With 1i+-day irrigation, salt starts coming

up to soil surface layer after 1+ days of irrigation.

SOCIO-ECONOMICS OF IRRIGATION

That irrigation reduces the risk of crop losses, provides

year-round farming activities, which increased total output

and revenue for farmers are compelling enough arguments in

favour of public investments in irrigation development.

Socio-economic research in IAR have usually been extended

to all designs and forms of irrigation technologies. However,

in response to government's declared policy efforts, the

socio-economic aspects of Irrigation research appears largely

biased in favour of the large scale projects.

Within this

framework, exploratory, descriptive and analytical research

are currently being conducted. The exploratory aspects «f the

research attempts to document all available methods of

irrigation within and outside the existing large scale

schemes in Nigeria.

The descriptive aspects of the research aims to identify

the key constraints to efficient use of irrigation water;

ascertain operational and maintenance costs of large scale

irrigation projects; determine the level of farmers'

participation in the various decisions affecting water

delivery, scheduling and charges and how best to enhance

such participations.

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The analytical or quantitative aspects of the IAR’s

on-going research efforts aim at determining the optimum

levels of application of water and other resources, for

maximum farm profits; and the

ability of farmers to pay for

irrigation water based on the structure of farm costs and

returns.

CONSTRAINTS

As in most investments in developing countries,

management remains the most important limitation to the

successful operation of the Nigerian irrigation schemes.

This constraint may be viewed from a micro-scale at which

the individual farmers operate but even more pointedly at

the basin and national levels. Specific problems fall

under one of:

  • (a) Insufficient locally-generated data for systems design and planning;

  • (b) Poor understanding of crop-water needs which results in water wastages and build-up of environmental hazards;

  • (c) Inadequate sociological data for determining appropriate organizational support structures; and

  • (d) Unavailability of funds to meet stated bloated

objectives.

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An example of the government’s response to policy

formulation in the face of insufficient data is the

frequency with which the mandates of the River Basin

levelopment Authorities have been amended from Act No. 25

of 1976 to-date.

FARMER-MANAGED IRRIGATION RESEARCH

Having identified the above constraints as the bottle­

neck to irrigation development in Nigeria and particularly

in the face of almost non-existent funding from government

for research during 1985-87, the IAR proposed and the Ford

Foundation accepted to fund a research on Farmer-Managed

Irrigation beginning in December, 1988. The objectives

of the project were:

  • a) To understand the Nigerian surface irrigation system as it actually operates, recognizing its strengths as well as its constraints;

  • b) To identify major physical, biological, socio­ economic, and organizational constraints to the

present irrigation system which limit agricultural

production;

  • c) To list these constraints in order of priority based on stated criteria so as to assist the development and assessment of possible solution; and

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  • d) To develop, test and recommend the most appropriate

management model to the government.

The first three of the objectives are being attended

to within the 2-year 1st Phase while the fourth objective

will be in the context of a 3-year 2nd Phase.

The studies

are being conducted mainly in the Hadejia Jama'are and the

Sokoto-Rima basins. Most of the research presentations at

this Workshop have emanated from this study.

The project also include the pooling of ideas as may

be available from co-operation with IIMI and visits to

other parts of the world having similar problems.

In this

context, we must mention that IAR has exchanged some visits

with IIMI and participated in relevant conferences. Worth

mentioning at this point are the experiences from other

lands, particularly the farmer irrigator associations in

the Phillippines and the farmer-managed irrigation systems

in Sri Lanka.

The farmer irrigator associations in the Phillipines

are organized under the National Irrigation Administration

which expects to control 700,000 ha of communal systems

and a substantial part of the 600,00 ha of national

irrigation systems by 1975.

In Sri Lanka, the projects

include the objective of settling farming families around

rehabilitated small irrigation reservoirs. In the cited

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cases, as in other countries such as Pakistan, Thailand,

Bangladesh and Morocco, the long-term goal is sustainability

through equitable distribution of water, adequate maintenance

by project management and beneficiaries as well as cost

recovery on national investments.

We are aware of the difference in the scale of the

irrigation systems in Nigeria as compared to the cases

cited above. Our researchers are also investigating the

unique sociological setting surrounding the Nigerian

irrigation schemes. Perhaps the schemes may only be improved

by partial turn-overs. But which-ever solution will emerge

needs to evolve from a thorough consideration of available

information by policy makers and must necessarily involve a

team comprising researchers, the Federal and State

ministries of Agriculture, the Ministry of Water Resources,

and the agencies in charge of co-operatives.

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REFERENCES

Abdulmumin, S., 1988. Crop coefficients and water requirements of irrigated wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) in the Nigerian savannah zone. Irriga. SciT-9TT7T-186.

Aremu, J.A. and L. Singh,

1989. Irrigation and phosphorus

requirement of wheat crop in; Progress in Irrigation research., 1989, A Report submitted to P. & A. Board,

February 21-22, Institute for Agricultural Research Ssmaru, Nigeria pp 37-14-3.

Bennett, A.J. 1967. Northern Nigeria.

A survey of river water quality in

Samaru Misc, Paper No, 17.

Inst,

for Agric. Research, Ahmadu Bello University,

Zaria, p. 15.

Balasubramanian, V., Singh, L. and Palmer, J.L., 1985. New fertilizer recommendation for irrigated wheat in Nigeria, Samaru Misc. Paper No. 107. Inst, for Agric. Res., Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria.

Chari, A.V., 1980. Cropping patterns under Bakolori Project; A preliminary Report on problems and prospects. Proceedings, the 7th National Irrigation Seminar Held 8th-12th September, 1980 Bagauda Lake Hotel.

Chair, A.V. and Maurya, P.R. 1982.

Development of cropping

pattern for irrigation projects in northern Nigeria. Proc. Ipth Afro-Asoam Regional Conf. of ICID, Lagos, 9-llgth Jan, Vol. 1: lp71 -Li_88.

Kumar, V. and Mayaki, W.C. 1986.

Effect of intercropped

cotton and nitrogen fertilization on yield and yield

components of wheat under irrigated rotation in Northern Nigeria, Fert. and Agric. ipO(93) 2 19-30.

Kumar, V., Owonubi, J.J., Aremu, J.A. and Chari, A.V., 1987. Cropping pattern and optimum planting time for irrigated crops in Northern Nigeria. Samaru Misc. Paper No. 119. Institute for Agricultural Research, Zaria, Nigeria, 32 pg.

Maurya, P.R. and Chari, A.V. 1980.

Wheat irrigation water

requirement for Sudan Savanna Zone of Nigeria. Proc. 7th National Irrig. Seminar, Bagauda Lake Hotel, Kano State 8th-12th Sept., Nigeria.