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1.1  Background to the Study

            Agriculture was developed at least 10,000 years ago, and it has undergone significant development since the time of the earliest cultivation. Independent development of agriculture is also believed to have occurred in Northern and Southern China, Africa Sahel, New Guinea and several regions of America. Agricultural practices such as irrigation, crop rotation, fertilizer and pesticides were developed long ago but have made great stride in the past century (Heyer, 2005).

            Irrigation farming is an important component of farming system of the drier region of the world climate with 20 inches of rain or less annually. Irrigation farming is as old as civilization in many countries, but to the world it is the artificial supply of water for cultivation especially during dry season or when the rain is insufficient for the crops to grow. Irrigation has been introduced in some parts of the world for several thousand of years for instance; rice has been grown under irrigation in India, and Far East for five thousand years. The Nile delta in Egypt was under irrigation for about four thousand years (Isakson, 2008).

            Irrigation means the action of supplying water to land in order to supply crops and other plants with necessary water. Sometimes nutrients may be applied via irrigation as well. Congressional Research Service [CRS], (2008) notes that ``Producers who irrigate in arid areas are more likely to use irrigation throughout the growing process (full irrigation), which producers in more humid areas may use irrigation to supplement rainfall and soil moisture under drought conditions``

            Today, over two million hectares of land are under irrigation in five continents (Wither, (2008, Briggs, 2010). Government in Nigeria is spending a lot of money in constructing dams that will serve the purpose of water supply for domestic, industrial, and agricultural practices in which irrigation farming is one. Example is the Tungan Kawo development scheme constructed by the Niger River Basin Development Authority (NRBDA) which was meant to develop agriculture through irrigation scheme. The rate at which the population is growing is alarming and therefore calls for immediate attention. It calls for corresponding food production in other to meet the high demands of this growing population. The pressure of survival and the need for additional food supply are necessitating a rapid expansion of modern irrigation throughout the world. Therefore, the introduction of irrigation scheme can be seen as a way of increasing agricultural production and to improve welfare of the people and particularly the rural farmers. This modern irrigation is one of which government agencies exact some great degree of control over water supply distribution and the use of water for divers purpose. Irrigation scheme is mainly for the developments of local economy provision of jobs for rural farms to obtain high farm income and to increase agricultural produce, (Robert, 2007).

            The historical perspective of irrigation has been a central feature of agriculture for over 5000 years and is the product of many cultures. Historically, it was the basis for economies and societies across the globe, from Asia to the Southwestern United States, (Agankwai, 2009).

            Ancient Egyptians practiced basin irrigation using the flooding of the Nile to inundate land plots which had been surrounded by dykes. The flood water was held until the fertile sediment had settled before the surplus was returned to the water house, (Al-Ali, 2009).

            The ancient Nubians developed a form of irrigation by using a waterwheel-like device called a sakia. Irrigation began in Nubia sometime between the second and third millennium. It largely depended upon the flood waters that would flow through the Nile river and other rivers in what is now the Sudan.

            In Sub-Saharan Africa irrigation reached the Niger River region cultures and civilizations by the first or second millennium and was based on wet season flooding and water harvesting. (Wallace, 2009).

            Theopilus, (2009) stated that at global scale, 2,788,00km2 (689million acres) of fertile land was equipped with irrigation infrastructure around the year 2000. About 68% of the area equipped for irrigation is located in Asia, 17% in the Americas, 9% in Europe, 5% in Africa and 1% in oceania. The largest contiguous areas of high irrigation density are found in the following; In northern India and Pakistan along the Ganges and Indus rivers, In the Hai He, Huang He and Yangtze basins in China, along the nile river in Egypt and Sudan, In the Mississippi-Missouri river basin and in parts of California. Smaller irrigation areas are spread across almost all populated parts of the world.

            Farmers in Nigeria have perhaps irrigated their crops using simple device such as the shadouf, calabashes and buckets for centuries. It is widely believed that irrigated agriculture involving the use of shadouf was brought into Nigeria by the Arabs along the trade routes at about 9th Century A.D. However, the first recorded government attempt at irrigation development dates back to 1918 when flood waters were impounded from sokoto and Rima rivers, following a study conducted by a military engineer (Erhabor,1982). The colonial government thereafter constructed some small dams and diversions in parts of the north in the 1920s. Some of these includes Daya, Abadan, Gamboru , Kano, Wurno and Edozhigi projects. (Enwerem, 2007).

However, according to (Baba, 2008). the year 1973 marked the beginning of organized federal government in irrigation development. This was when the Chad-Basin and the Sokoto-Rima Basin development were established. The year 1975 witnessed the establishment of the ministry of water resources at the Federal level.

1.2  Statement of the Problem

Agriculture is the world’s largest use of land, occupying about 38% of the Earth’s terrestrial Surface (Nelson, 2013). Yet, the 1996 World Food Summit (WFS) brought to centre stage in the development debate the issue of hunger and food insecurity as both cause and effect of poverty and slow growth (Damisa, 2011). For example, an estimated 870 million people globally still lack sufficient caloric intake, while a billion or more suffer from micronutrient deficiencies (Food And Agricultural Organization [FAO] , 2012). In a bid to address these problems, we must call for a new approach that ensures success and food sustainability under this new set of constraints.      It is evident that with the current rapid increase in the nation`s population, the need for food security and vitamins are also on the increase. Thus, requiring urgent steps to increase food production in order to meet this increasing demand. With this situation, small scale dry season farmers normally encounter the problem of having no access to Fadama project facilities where they could get credit facilities to improve their production, (Majeck, 2013). However, farmers borrowing implements for the survival of their plants, and at last their plants get socked. Where the owners of the implement collect or retrieve them back before they finally harvest. Also, water for use in the farm could not reach the farmers that are far enough from the dam when it is at extreme dry season when water has withdrawn (Bruces, 2014), In almost half of the land area of Nigeria, the rainy season is less than six months. In sub-Sahara region, successful rain fed agriculture is limited to raising short season and relatively drought tolerant crops, in such areas, irrigation can be an important practice in off-setting drought and making double cropping. For this reason, irrigation system throughout history have been established and operated with a view to solving identified problems which the improvement of welfare of the rural farmers is not left behind. So, the dry season farming in Nigeria enables the rural farmers continue cropping or cultivating anytime rain seized or does not complete its circle. From the above problems discussed, we therefore come up with the research questions as follows:

      I.          Who are the irrigation farmers in Doka?

    II.          What are the various types of crops cultivated in the study area?

  III.          What are the benefits of irrigation farming in the study area?

  IV.          What are the challenges faced by the irrigation farmers in the study area?

1.3 Aim and Objectives

This research work is aimed at accessing the economics of irrigation farming in Doka district, Birnin Gwari Local Government area, Kaduna State.

However, the following objectives are put in place for the achievement of the study’s goal, to;

1.     Identify the people involved in irrigation farming

2.      Identify the various types of crops under irrigation farming in the study area.

3.      Ascertain the benefits of irrigation farming in the area.

4.      Examine the challenges or problems faced by irrigation farmers

1.4  Scope of the Study

The scope of this study is to examine the economics of irrigation farming in Doka district, Birnin Gwari L.G.A. The research will also examine the various types of crops under irrigation farming in the study area, benefits and the challenges faced by the irrigation farmers.

1.5  Significance of the Study

This research work will be significance to the farmers in the study area in a number of ways. It will create awareness to the farmers of how beneficiary it is, it will serve as reference material to upcoming researchers, and it will serve as literature material in the library or for those interested in doing a research on similar topic, it will also be a solution on how to solve the challenges the farmers are facing.

1.6 Justification of the Study

According to the 2006 census, the population of Nigeria was 140,003,542 with the growth rate of 3.2%. This show an increase of about 51,489,042 people within the period of 15 years. The rapid increase in population will obviously result into a proportional rise demand both of job opportunity and also food; hence the desire to produce more food in Nigeria which dry season farming is one way of tackling the problem.

            From the foregoing, irrigation agriculture has thrive in different regions of the world with a lot of benefits to farmers. This motivated the researcher to embarked on the research on the economics of irrigation farming in Doka District, Birnin Gwari L.G.A. Kaduna State.

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