Vea Irrigation Dam is collapsing!
The Vea Irrigation Dam that was built in the 1960s is collapsing. It has never seen any major rehabilitation since its establishment. The canals and laterals that convey water from the dam to the farms have virtually broken down.
Water does not get to the farmers to enable them to irrigate their farm and many have abandoned their farms.
The Irrigation area is zoned into low lands for rice farming and uplands for tomato farming, soya beans, cabbage, lettuce and pepper and other vegetables.
Millet and groundnuts are also grown in the area including Sorghum which is in high demand by brewing companies. The facility also has fish pods.
Nine communities namely Vea, Nyariga, Bongo, Bolgatanga, Zaare , Dindubisi, Yikine , Gowrie and Sumbrungu and other people outside the facility area farm there to make a living and is one of the major livelihoods of the people in the area and beyond.
The Project Manager, Mr Mahama Salifu, said the facility has 1,200 hectares of farm land but only 850 hectares is under cultivation.
He said farmers are not able to make maximum use of the land because of the bad condition of the canals and laterals. In 2010, it was projected that 570 out of the 850 hectares would be cultivated but due to the poor conditions of the canals, only 222 hectares of land is being utilised.
The Vea Irrigation facility is supposed to crop tomato to feed the Pwalugu Tomato Factory but it is not able to deliver and it is only the Tono Irrigation Dam in Navrongo that is performing that role.
No wonder the Pwalugu Tomato Factory often complains of lack of raw materials and often shuts down.
This puts the few tomato farmers at the mercy of buyers from the southern part of the country who exploit them.
Another major problem facing the Vea Irrigation facility is the dam itself.
The Project Manager said the walls of the dam are weak and and the dam is silted.
“Over 40 years now the dam has not been repaired and it needs a complete overhauling. Any routine maintenance would not solve the problem, even though the cost would be capital intensive.
Reconstructing it by scaling the walls to contain enough water will help,” Mr Salifu said.
He said many government officials, officials from the World Bank, DANIDA and Food and Agriculture Organization had visited the area with the intention of addressing the problem but nothing had been done.
There is therefore the urgent need for the government and other stakeholders to pay special attention to the rehabilitation of the Vea Irrigation Dam taking into consideration the enormous benefits that could be derived from it.
It will feed the tomato factory and empower farmers to return to the farms they have abandoned because of lack of water.
Again it would help increase the production of rice which the government is encouraging farmers to go into.
Cereal production will increase especially millet and sorghum which the area has the potential to grow. Sorghum, which is in high demand by brewing companies, would provide source of income to the farmers and their families.
Groundnut and vegetable farming would also be stepped up if the facility is rehabilitated. Farmers could be encouraged to go into large scale groundnut farming which is a high source of oil and this could be consumed locally and even exported.
The Chief of Nyariga, one of the beneficiary communities, Naba Abosong Dongpoya, said the youth used to stay in the area to be engaged as labourers by farmers and that earned them a living.
He said now they have been traveling in search of non-existing jobs in the south.
“If the facility is repaired it will help prevent the youth from migrating and enhance the livelihood of the people,” Naba Abosong Dongpoya said.
By Samuel Adadi Akapule