By Prof. Boniface Egboka
The present increased emphasis by Nigerian Federal and States governments on modern Hydrogeoagricultural practices is a step taken in the right direction. There will be more foods on family tables, more financial resources, more food exports and less imports, high employment opportunities for the teem¬ing population of youths and improved social life in the communities. In as much as there are modern technological approaches to agricultural practices, it will be worthwhile if local cultures in farm practices and productivities are conjoined with modern technologies in mgbamili and fadama agricultural practices. The mgbammili technology and improved fadama agriculture in Hydrogeological studies, re¬search and applications are of both ancient practices and novel cultural farming experiences as well as being major food-generating factors in socioeconomic development. Where these are well-funded, modernized and encouraged, they become major assets in combating unemployment problems, poverty and food insecurity. These innovative practices would positively-tackle massive unemployment, urban-to-rural migration and endemic poverty that occur particularly in rural areas. While fadama agriculture is fairly-well-funded by governments in northern States, mgbammili farming as practised by small holder-farmers in southern States is without any government funding. The two farming methods exploit irrigated lands or wet/marshlands along water channels/valleys of streams, lakes and rivers for agriculture all-year-round. In fadama agriculture carried out throughout the year, continuous water content of soils is enhanced through regular water supplies from irrigation channels using pumps from surface waters, dams, hand-dug wells/boreholes in water-bearing units or shallow aquifers. Funding for fadama are provided by Federal and State governments while sometimes also funds from international aid agencies for pro¬jects. Mgbammili agriculture is aldo carried out both during dry and rainy seasons through similar but less extensive local irrigation techniques that are manually-driven by small-hold¬er farmers who fund themselves. Federal and States governments should equally-encourage and fund these grassroot agricultural practices because they can provide employment opportunities to youths to make lives meaningful; solve problems of poverty and food insecurity that are endemic.
Proper understanding and appreciation of water resources implications are keys to successful execution of these practices of fadama and mgbammili farming agriculture. Water availability during the rains is assured while water scarcity occurs during dry season. Hydrogeology/Hydrology is the study of movements, use and disuse of waters of the Hydrologic Cycle: waters in the air, land, soils, saturated groundwater zones in aquifers, in plants and animals, living and non-living things etc. All these waters play significant roles in agricultural practices. Success in every facet of life of human endeavour is deeply-rooted in the cultural lives and values of people. Science and technology develop more rapidly if properly-hinged onto the language and culture of the people. When this is done, economic developments in areas where scientific innovations are localized become more meaningful and acceptable with attendant multiplier and positive effects in standards of living. The rapid developments of Malaysia, Japan, India etc. give credence to the concept of domiciling science and technology into local languages and cultures. Such countries teach/develop materials and inventions based on their cultural values. Development/growth of modern sciences and technology has historical antecedents from archaeological times. People develop socioeconomically in close liaison with their environmental needs, cultural identities and values. They react and solve arising problems in relation to their needs thereby handling issues that affected them quite better. They developed weapons for hunting and warding off enemies; hoes for farming; clothes to cover nakedness and keep off vagaries of harsh elements; different types of food for subsistence; houses for abodes; boats for water/river transport; herbal medicines for health; indigenous irrigation schemes for agriculture; hand-dug wells, micro-dams as utilities and spring water facilities for rural water supplies; engineered structures for floods/erosion control etc. All these developments occurred in pristine societies. As the world progressed in modern Sciences and Technology, various facets of life/living developed accordingly. Unfortunately, African countries are primarily under-developed in application of modern Sciences and Technology because most innovations are foreign and their transfer is in foreign languages of alien cultures. It is very important and exigent for Africans to begin transfer and localisation of scientific discoveries, inventions and technologies into cultures and languages of the people who are the ultimate beneficiaries and end-users of such inventions. The concept of fadama or mg-bammili agriculture is germane to the application of modernized and appropriate techniques for water supplies and management technologies in modern farming activities. Mgbammili farming describes an engineering-based-agricultural water management scheme used in rural water sup¬plies. It involves local ways and means used by rural farmers to ensure that crops/vegetables are watered regularly with enough water all the year-round. The process involves mainly rural women, youths and children in rural/peri-urban areas. They use buckets, bowls or water-containers to irrigate crops in agricultural practices along banks of rivers, streams, lakes and wet¬lands. They create shallow drain¬age channels to irrigate crops. Along river banks and within wetlands, there are surface waters in form of springs, streams, lakes etc. Small dams are built to support hand-dug wells or shallow boreholes for water recharge for all-year farming. Different crops and vegetables are planted and harvested regularly all years. In dry season, farming hardly occurs except where mgbammili is carried by small-scale farmers who make reasonable amounts of money. Mgbammiii agricul-ture can be improved through funding and basic technological modifications to improve productivity for better crop yields for more money for farmers. Measures like funding by governments for fadama and mg-bammili; building dams along streams; using gensets and pipes/tubes to pump water into farms; installation of hand-dug wells or shallow boreholes to tap water from aquifers; international Aid Agencies, NGO’s, church organizations and individuals can provide grants, low-interest loans to individuals, youths or groups to encourage agricultural practices to enhance fadama and mgbammili farming. Stakeholders in Agriculture are advised to embrace this concept and ensure that small-scale farmers, living in rural and peri-urban areas who are engaged in modern ways of farming will benefit in self-employment, food security and harvest of more money into their pockets. The Federal government and States should invest more funds in such innovative/proactive farming methods; it will ensure enhanced local/national food security and employments in Nigeria.
By Boniface Egboka, UNIZIK, Awka, Anambra State; E-mail: email@example.com