President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has cut the sod for work to begin on the rehabilitation and expansion of the Kpong Left Bank Irrigation Project (KLBIP) at Torgorme in the North Tongu District in the Volta Region.
The ceremony wrapped up the President's three-day working visit to the Volta Region.
The project, estimated at $34 million, is designed to expand irrigable land from the initial 450 hectares to about 2,000 hectares to serve about 6,000 people in 17 communities within the catchment area.
Nine crop varieties, including pepper, maize, peas, cabbage, rice, soya and watermelon, have been selected for large-scale production under the irrigation scheme to improve the livelihood of small holder farmers in the area.
At the ceremony last Wednesday, President Akufo-Addo said the government was committed to increasing the utilisation of potential irrigable land through the modernisation of the agricultural sector to increase productivity.
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Ghana Commercial Agriculture Project
The KLBIP forms part of a World Bank-funded Ghana Commercial Agriculture Project (GCAP) started in 2012 to facilitate access to reliable water, land, finance, farming inputs and markets by small holder farmers in the country.
Three other public irrigation schemes at Kpong, Tono and Vea in the Greater Accra and the Upper East regions, are also scheduled for rehabilitation and modernisation under the World Bank facility.
The acting Country Director of the World Bank, Dr Beatrix Allah-Mensah, said $50 million was voted by the bank in May 2018 towards the rehabilitation and modernisation of the four major irrigation schemes which were selected in consultation with the Ghana Irrigation Development Authority.
Dr Allah-Mensah called for the timely completion of the project and within the budget to avoid the implementation challenges it suffered in the past.
She urged the government to attract more investors into the agricultural sector to support small holder farmers to ensure that the schemes were put to productive use.
“It is our hope that this irrigation infrastructure will help Ghana optimise its production of rice and other produce and also increase its volume of non-traditional export commodities to improve the trade balance,” Dr Allah-Mensah added.
The Minister of Food and Agriculture, Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto, in his remarks, said the irrigation project would boost the government’s Planting for Food and Jobs programme, while the GCAP would be expanded to some 150,000 hectares in the Savanna areas of the country.
The Paramount Chief of the Torgorme Traditional Area, Togbe Asamoah Nkwanta, described the project as a big opportunity for the people to undertake large-scale farming.
He appealed to the government to improve the access road and extend electricity and potable water to the communities for them to take advantage of the facility.