Nigeria has abundant land and water resources to embark on irrigation schemes to ensure all year round rice production. Additional yield to annual rice production through dry season farming in 2012 in 10 pilot States of the country was found to be over 1 million metric tonnes. This shows that an intensive and consistent irrigated rice production scheme will set Nigeria on a pathway to rice self-sufficiency thereby bringing an end to the gross loss in foreign exchange due to importation and smuggling of the commodity. The study reviewed irrigation subsector in Nigeria, and revealed that the prospects of achieving rice self sufficiency through irrigation farming is hampered by some major challenges namely-underdeveloped subsector promoted by fragmented, inconsistent and unimplemented policies, multiple water regulatory institutions with overlapping and duplicating mandate and poor management system. Other challenges include- the absence of a viable market for local rice as well as high cost of labour inputs, irrigation equipments and other operating costs. The study concluded that for Nigeria irrigation potentials to be harnessed towards rice self-sufficiency there is need to amend policies on irrigation and water resources, create conducive market for local producers and provide subsidized and appropriate farm implements.
Key words: Irrigation potentials, rice self-sufficiency, challenges, Nigeria.
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