Accra Plains Irrigation Project to commence this year

BY: Enoch Darfah Frimpong

The report indicated that there would be feasibility studies on the design of a model irrigation system in the Katanga Valley in the Northern Region, while the Vea Irrigation Scheme, the Dawa Dam and 10 dams in the Volta Region had been earmarked for rehabilitation this year.

 In its recommendations, the committee noted that the fertilizer and seeds subsidy programmes were putting a serious financial strain on the ministry and recommended to the government to either review its policy on the subsidies or make available to the ministry adequate funds to support the subsidies.

On the irrigation scheme, it observed that governments over the years had not been able to develop sufficient irrigation systems for reliable and continuous farming even though it had been recognised that irrigation was a very important strategic infrastructure for agriculture.

The committee, therefore, proposed the establishment of an Irrigation Development Fund for the purpose of financing irrigation development, since agriculture is the backbone of the country.

It asked the ministry to engage the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning and other stakeholders in the establishment of the fund.

Contributing to the motion by the sector minister, Mr Clement Humado, for the approval of GH¢292,479,722 for the ministry's operations, the MP for Kwadaso, Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto, said for the past six years, the gap between the growth of the economy and that of agriculture had been widening. He  explained that growth in agriculture had been reducing from 7.4 per cent to only 2.6 per cent in 2012.

He said the reduction in agricultural performance must be arrested in order to eliminate poverty and hunger from the five million farmers and fishermen in the rural areas and poor the urban population.

He added that unfortunately, the resources allocated and policies adopted in the 2013 budget would not be sufficient to turn the fortunes of the agricultural sector around.

Dr Akoto said out of the paltry GH¢292.5 allocated to the sector, nearly a third of that amount had been earmarked for the fertilizer subsidy programme alone.

He also said the window of opportunity for financing agriculture provided by the emerging oil sector had also been ignored by the government and explained that in 2011, the sector was allocated GH¢13.1 million out of the Annual Budget Funding Amount (ABFA) of the Petroleum Fund, while in 2012, GH¢72.5 million was released out of the total GH¢516.8 million.

Dr Akoto added that it was unfortunate that in the 2013 budget only GH¢20 million was allocated from the ABFA to support the ministry, and indicated that the management of the fund so far had revealed the low priority for the agricultural sector.

He therefore called on the government to make the ABFA the financing vehicle for the agricultural sector, adding that strategic activities, including fertilizer subsidy and irrigation programmes, should be financed directly from the ABFA to demonstrate the government’s priority for the agricultural sector.

After the debate the House approved GH¢292,479,722 to enable the ministry to undertake its programmes and activities for 2013.