The Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA) under the Medium Term Agriculture Sector Development Plan (METASIP) is to develop 500,000 hectares of irrigated land nationwide with a large portion of it in the northern sector.
The project will comprise dam rehabilitation and construction, development of valley bottoms to allow rice irrigation and river pumping schemes.
Mr Kwesi Ahwoi, Minister of Food and Agriculture announced this at the sod-cutting ceremony for the construction of the first batch of 154 kilometres (km) of feeder roads out of 600 kms to be constructed under the Northern Rural Growth Programme (NRGP) at the cost of more than GH¢6,886,834.37 at Kukobila, a farming community in the Savelugu/Nanton District of the Northern Region on Monday.
The construction of the feeder roads is to provide access to farming communities and link them to the marketing and urban centres under the commodity added value chain of the NRGP.
“The development of irrigated agriculture is no more a choice or a luxury but an obligation given the recent erratic rain fall pattern, especially in northern Ghana as a direct effect of climate change,” Mr Ahwoi said.
He said the development of irrigated lands would involve a number of stakeholders and institutions such as the Environmental Protection Agency, Ministry of Health, Lands Commission, traditional authorities and district assemblies.
Mr Ahwoi said other infrastructure to enhance the commodity value chains includes the construction of warehouses envisaged for every district for the storage of up to 75, 00 maxi bags of grains or legumes.
Smaller farmer-group warehouses would also be planned on demand basis.
He said the small dams and development of river pumping sites and the construction of farm access tracks constituted the infrastructure that would be constructed under the NRGP.
He said the total amount for the infrastructural component of the projects stood at $62million and was being financed by the African Development Bank, while the International Fund for Agricultural Development was funding other components of the commodity chain development, access to rural finances and programme co-ordination to the tune of $22.4 million.
Government, he said, was contributing $10 million in the form of tax waivers.
Mr Ahwoi said the efforts were being made in recognition that the North needed massive infrastructural investments to open up production areas to marketing centres and to provide incentives to poor rural farmers to earn higher income.
Mr Roy Ayariga, National Co-ordinator of the NRGP said the programme was geared towards providing technical and financial assistance to farmers to enable them improve upon their acreages and produce more to feed themselves and the market in order to better their lives.
He said although government could come out with all the good policies and programmes to improve farming, there was the need for farmers to take farming as a business.
Mr Moses Bukari Mabengba, Regional Minister commended Nyinbung-Naa Yakubu Andani, Chief of Kukobila for releasing land to the NRGP project to increase food production.