The Ghana Commercial Agriculture Project is to rehabilitate and modernise 10 of the country’s irrigation schemes. Construction work on four major irrigation schemes and six smaller ones will start in July and is expected to be completed in 18 months.
It will involve redesigning and construction in a modernised way that would make it possible to control how much water is released to farmers who are expected to pay for the service to ensure sustainability.
While the four major irrigation schemes – Kpong and Kpong Left Bank, both in the Greater Accra Region; the Tono and Vea in the Upper East are expected to cost $ 112 million, the six smaller ones —Sankana in the Upper West Region; Tanoso in the Brong Ahafo Region; Kpando Torkor in the Volta Region; Amate in the Eastern Region; Libga and Golinga in the Northern Region – are estimated to cost $5 million.
Speaking to the Daily Graphic, the Project Coordinator of GCAP, Mr Charles Nornoo, said the project cost was going into redesigning, supervision and construction of the schemes which are expected to become more efficient.
“We are modernising them because the water distribution system now is not metered,” he said.
Mr Nornoo erxplained that any amount of water that was sent to a farmer will be measured. “So when it comes to payment, he or she will be able to pay the right amount. The whole idea for ensuring payment is for the schemes to have enough money to maintain the secondary and tertiary canals that serve the farmers,” he concluded.
He said when implemented, the only burden on the government would be to repair the main canals every 30 years as there would be enough money generated by the various schemes to maintain the secondary and tertiary canals.
On the expected benefit of the project, he said land under irrigation would be increased by 20 per cent.
“We have done studies on the soils that are at the various locations and the crops that are suitable to cultivate. It will help the farmers to grow what would yield and increase productivity
“We believe that others who will use the scheme can arm three times a year if they follow best agronomic practices. There would be more income because of multiple production. Yields would go up because we are hoping that the farmers would work under efficient use of water and also technical support” he explained.
He said apart from the creation of jobs for thousands of people, the project would also help the country cut down its rice import bill, currently pegged at $600 million.
GIDA & water users
Touching on the Ghana Irrigation Development Authority (GIDA), he said the project had supported the authority to roll out a number of reforms which now makes it a regulator of irrigation schemes.
There are about 55 irrigation schemes spread across the country with 22 of them being public schemes managed by GIDA.
He said apart from helping GIDA to develop a five-year strategic plan focused on strengthening the authority to become an efficient regulator, the project had also empowered the Authority to deliver on its mandate by improving its infrastructure as well as providing budgetary support.
According to Mr Nornoo, by putting the various irrigation schemes in the hands of the private sector under the regulation of the GIDA, the recurrent situation where government borrowed money to rehabilitate the various irrigation schemes almost every decade would be curbed.
He said the passage of the Irrigation Development Authority (Irrigation Water Users Association) Regulation, 2016 (L.I. 2230) made it obligatory for the formation of water users associations to safeguard and sustain the various schemes.
Ultimately, there will be a national federation of water users associations to help them manage the process well and co-ordinate the work of the various associations.
Mr Charles Nornoo — Project Coordinator GCAP