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49 years after inauguration, Zamfara Bakalori dam project remains abandoned

The Bakalori Irrigation Scheme in Zamfara State, commissioned in 1983 by the Federal Government, stands as a testament to the country’s aspirations to boost agricultural productivity. With a storage capacity of 450 million cubic meters of water and potential to generate 3MW of electricity, the scheme held promise for food security and economic growth.

Originally intended to irrigate 23,000 hectares, the project has since dwindled to a mere 7,500 hectares under cultivation, primarily for rice, due to neglect and lack of maintenance. Malam Bello Sani, a former staff member, lamented the scheme’s decline, attributing it to poor upkeep and policy inconsistencies.

Despite promises made by past administrations, including former President Goodluck Jonathan’s pledge to revive the project, progress has been scant. The absence of deliberate efforts by both the Zamfara State and Federal Governments to restore the scheme has led to its near abandonment.

The potential for the Bakalori Irrigation Scheme to reinvigorate agriculture and alleviate power shortages remains untapped. Governor Dauda Lawal’s administration has expressed intent to explore the scheme’s electricity generation capabilities, continuing initiatives initiated during Jonathan’s tenure.

Mustafa Jafaru Kaura, the governor’s media aide, affirmed the state government’s commitment to revitalizing the Bakalori project for electricity generation. With plans to harness 5MW of power from the dam, Zamfara aims to address the persistent issue of power outages, demonstrating its dedication to sustainable development.

However, the fate of the irrigation scheme hangs in the balance, with farmers like Mohammed Garba urging swift action to restore its former glory. As calls for intervention grow louder, the Bakalori Irrigation Scheme remains a dormant economic asset awaiting revival, holding the key to unlocking Zamfara’s agricultural and energy potential.

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