Kwahu Afram Plains, deferred dream?
President Dr Kwame Nkrumah, Ghana’s first democratically elected president, dreamt that the Volta Lake and the Volta Dam project situated in the Eastern Region of Ghana along the Afram Plains, would serve as a catalyst for Africa’s development.
That Ghana would export excess electricity generated from the Akosombo Hydroelectric Dam and also channel water for irrigation through canals to neighbouring countries in the sub-region.
The Akosombo Hydroelectric Dam also known as the Volta Dam is situated on the Volta River in the southeastern part of Ghana.
The dam stands at a height of 124m and breadth of 660m, and the structure holds back the waters of Lake Volta, one of the largest man-made lakes in the world by surface area.
The Volta Lake reservoir covers an area that is a third of Ghana’s land surface area – a total of 8,502km² and with a capacity of 148km³, the 400km-long, Lake Volta is also the third-largest artificial lake in the world by volume.
The Akosombo Dam was completed in 1965 and was designed to generate electricity for Ghana’s aluminium industry with an original electricity generation output of 912MW, that was later boosted to 1,020MW by modifications in 2006.
The Akosombo Dam project saw the flooding of parts of the Volta River basin and its upstream fields.
Around 80,000 people, representing about one per cent of the population in communities within the Volta basin at the time, had to be relocated.
People from 700 different villages (communities), many of whom were subsistence farmers, were relocated and moved into 52 resettlement villages as part of the scheme.
Amankwakrom is one of such communities.
As well as generating electricity, engineers designed the Akosombo Dam to provide water for irrigating nearby farmlands as part of Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah’s vision to empower the affected communities that were relocated and also provide enough food for West Africa, if not for the entire Africa.
The Kwahu Asabi Royal Foundation under the auspices of Nana Otukwa Mpareko VI and collaborating partners have embarked on a series of training and technical capacity building interventions geared towards upskilling and empowering indigenes of some communities in the Afram Plains to help them establish commercial farming and other agribusiness ventures and thereby actualise what at best could be described as the deferred dreams of Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah.
The ideal geographic location of Amankwakrom, a community along the Volta basin on the Afram Plains with its favourable weather and fertile soils, presents favourable farming conditions that coupled with focused training interventions in modern agricultural farming practices and sustainable farming technologies, offers opportunities to enhance the skills of farmers and also the youth, who are desirous of pursuing commercial farming as their primary source of livelihood.
Farming was once generally considered an undertaking of personal necessity and was also pursued at the familial subsistence levels, where individual households-families grew crops mainly for consumption of their nuclear and extended families (i.e., households) as a means of survival.
This was an inevitable historic reality but now contemporary families residing in the Afram Plains face new possibilities.
The Amankwakrom Agricultural project embraces modern sustainable agriculture as a means to mitigate the impact of climate change on the indigenes of Afram Plains through the introduction of irrigation and greenhouse technology, among others.
The project also seeks to harness the real potential of agriculture within the Kwahu Afram Plains area and use sustainable commercial agriculture and agribusiness for purposes of poverty alleviation.
President Kwame Nkrumah’s dream of an empowered Ghana through mass production of agricultural crops may have been postponed, but certainly will not be denied to the youth and generations to come.
There is renewed synergy to develop the Afram Plains as a major agricultural hub in Ghana and the future is bright.
However, challenges must be overcome for Afram Plains to actualise its potential as a major food production centre in Ghana.
Indeed, Kwame Nkrumah’s vision for the Akosombo Dam project, and the potential of the Afram Plains can be realised through hard work, capacity building interventions in sustainable agriculture, collaborative partnerships, community mobilisation, and community empowerment.
The writer is Chief,
Kwahu Asabi Amankwakrom, Afram Plains.