1.1 General Background Information
Nigeria is a large country with a great diversity of climatic and agro-ecological zones. The country is rich in plant genetic resources. However, these plant genetic resources are subjected to erosion due to the expansion of mechanized agriculture in the rainy lands of Central, Eastern and Western Nigeria. Horticultural crops comprise the groups of vegetables, fresh legumes, fruit trees, ornamental plants, plantation crops, medicinal and aromatic plants and spices. The horticultural acreage in the Nigeria is estimated at 273,000 hectares, representing about 3% of the total crop area, and contributes 12% to national production compared to 21% for food grains and 8% for oil seeds (Ahmed, 2002). Horticultural crop growers share many of the same management concerns of other producers. Although horticultural crops vary substantially, they all require skilled management to produce a high product. These crops rely heavily on high management of soil, water, nutrient resources and pest populations. Water availability is the most serious limitation to agricultural quality production in Western Nigeria. This study was carried out in Argungu local government area-Kebbi state to assess the soil and water resources which are used to produce horticultural crops (vegetables and fruits) by farmers.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Kebbi state does not have sufficient supply of horticultural products but always imports some from the neighbouring states. Local yields are in the order of 4 t/fed for vegetables, 4-5 t/fed for potatoes, 4 t/fed for tomato and 6 t/fed for onion. The low production is as a result of poor water quality and soil infertility in the area. For example, the excess salts affect the uptake of nutrients from the soil. In irrigation, poor water quality with excess salts affect plants in many ways, but the most common problems are caused by salts which influence the osmotic relationship between roots and soil moisture (Malash et al., 2005).