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May 17, 2008

Nigeria to commence Kebbi State irrigation project

President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua, has ordered immediate commencement of execution of the first phase of the multi-billion Naira Zauro Polder Irrigation Project in Kebbi State, as part of the long time solution to the current global food crisis.

The project, estimated to cost over N18.5 billion, covering over 10,000 hectares along the Rivers Rima and Niger, is to be jointly financed by the Federal, Kebbi State and the 10 affected local government areas, with the Federal Government to provide 70per cent, while state and the local governments pay the 30 per cent balance. Minister of State for Water Resources, Mr Ademola Rasak Seriki, gave the directive at a meeting between official of his Ministry, Kebbi State government officials, consultants and contractors of the project.

Seriki said Yar'Adua has observed with dismay, that the project conceived since 1969, with the aim of boosting rice production, has been delayed unnecessarily, despite its socio-economic importance. He said the President was disturbed that a project of such magnitude with unquantifiable benefits to the nation's economic growth could suffer such a set back and expressed regrets that, if Zauro Polder and similar proposed projects have not been delayed, the present global food crisis would have had little effect in Nigeria.

He said the Federal Government is now fully prepared to fulfill all its obligations in respect of the project, to ensure its immediate execution, adding that budgetary provisions have been made for the project. According to him, when completed, it has the potentials of providing sufficient rice for both local consumption and exports, adding that, the Federal Government will leave no stone unturned in ensuring that the project is executed.

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