Dredging our major rivers could double Nigeria’s agricultural output overnight

Ayo Akinfe

(1) Is there any agency in Nigeria dealing with the issue of silt in our rivers?

(2) Across the far northern tip of Nigeria, farmland is being eroded by desert encroachment

(3) Large parts of southeast Nigeria are made up of soft clay soil not suitable for agriculture and prone to erosion

(4) If we dredged just the rivers Niger and Benue alone and packaged this silt, we could use it to turn both of these badly affected areas into lush farmland

(5) Nigeria has a total landmass of 923,768 square kilometres. If we had a policy of converting say 60% of it into commercial farmland, with accompanying processing plants, we would double the size of our gross domestic product (GDP) overnight

(6) At the moment, Nigeria has 34m hectares of arable farmland, representing about 37% of our land mass. To run massive commercial plantations suited to mechanised farming, we will need to increase that figure as the smallholder farmers will not want to give up their existing farmland

(7) In all fairness, we are not doing too badly in this area as the global average when it comes to the proportion of country’s landmass that is arable farmland is about 15%. However, we need to double our GDP quickly as we are a mono-economy and the crude oil market is currently in turmoil

(8) I would like to see the federal government dredge Lake Chad and the Rivers Niger and Benue. Then ask state governments to dredge all the rivers within their domains

(9) Apart from boosting our own farm output, we can also sell this packaged silt to fellow African nations. I am sure our Sahelian neighbours like Niger Republic, Chad, Mali, Burkina Faso, etc, would highly appreciate this gesture. In Niger Republic for instance, 80% of their landmass is within the Sahara Desert

(10) I would like to see the growth of a domestic river dredging industry that involves the manufacturing of equipment, the processing of silt and the conversion of our rivers into marine highways. This is just another case of us sitting on wealth and not noticing it