Only 5% cultivable land is irrigated – IDA

The total potential of irrigable land in Ghana is put at 500,000 hectares, but only 25,000 hectares are under irrigation.

This means that just five per cent of the total cultivable area is irrigated despite plans for irrigation development over the years.

Mr Simon Apio, Acting Director of the Irrigation Development Authority, said lack of funds was the main reason inhibiting feasibility studies and work on the projects that had been identified in most areas.

Mr Apio, who was speaking at the opening session of an International Conference on Agribusiness in Accra on Tuesday, said the long process of land acquisition was another factor contributing to the slow progress in irrigation.

He said areas had been identified around the White Volta such as Tamin, Damongo, Pwalugu, Kamba and the Funbisi Valley for irrigation projects but these were yet to take-off because of the lack of funds.

Touching on the Accra Plains, with a total irrigable area of 150,000 hectares, Mr Apio said plans were far advanced for a Japanese company to begin work on irrigating 9,000 hectares.

The project estimated to cost about 200 million dollars would let in water to the field by gravity that is, letting water flow from a higher level supply canal through ditches or furrows to the fields at a lower level.

The rest of the area, Mr Apio said, could only be served through pumps lifting water from the canal to the fields, adding that proposals had been received from Chinese and Iranian companies to undertake irrigation of 10,000 hectares each using this method.

He expressed the hope that collaboration and support from all stakeholders would enable the Authority to put more lands under irrigation.

Dr Tia Sugri, Deputy Minister of Agriculture in Charge of Livestock, said government’s vision was to eliminate hunger, reduce poverty and food insecurity and create wealth for farmers.

To achieve the goal, he said, it was imperative to upscale agricultural production and train farmers to take on new technologies to boost yield and ensure sustainable production.

There is also the need to overcome the low level of mechanisation, limited access to guaranteed markets for farmers and producers especially women and unavailability of improved planting materials, he said.

The two-day AGRITEC West Africa 2011 conference on the theme: “Increasing Agricultural Production to Drive National Growth,” brings together experts in agribusiness to discuss ways to upscale agricultural production through improved seed and fertilizers, access to credit, improved storage and greater access to markets.

Source: GNA

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