Ghanaian Farmers call for Increased Budgetary allocation for Effective Irrigation Dams Construction
Farmers in the Bongo District of the Upper East Region have called on government to increase budgetary allocation for dams from the current Gh¢250,000.00, to improve and expand dams under its flagship programme. The farmers, who are from beneficiary communities of the “One Village, One Dam,” including Ayopia and Kabre among others, said increase in budgetary allocation would effectively enhance irrigational facilities for effective dry season farming and increase agricultural productivity. This the farmers say would eradicate poverty and hunger in the District. The farmers made the call at a stakeholder engagement forum on government’s “One Village, One Dam” programme organized by the Northern Patriots in Research and Advocacy (NORPRA), in the Bongo District. The forum was to afford farmers the opportunity to demand accountability from duty bearers on the quality of the dams constructed in farming communities in the District. In line with the bottom-up approach to development, the farmers demanded that government effectively engage and consult them for their inputs and views to ensure improved and expanded dams to meet their development priorities. The beneficiary communities further appealed to government to engage the Irrigation Development Authority (IDA) which has the technical capacity to design standards for irrigation infrastructure for improved quality of the dams for sustainable agricultural activities. Mr Bismark Adongo Ayorogo, the Executive Director of the Northern Patriots in Research and Advocacy (NORPRA) in a brief presentation at the forum, indicated that research in Ghana had shown that public investment in agriculture had the highest returns as those who invested in agriculture had good returns. He said the Upper East, Northern, Upper West, Savannah and North East Regions of Ghana had eight million hectares of agricultural land with suitable soils for a wide range of crops, left unused or underutilized and only 15.6 per cent of arable land was cultivated. Explaining factors that accounted for most agricultural lands left unused or underutilized, the Executive Director said Regions in the Northern sector of the country experienced prolonged dry seasons with limited irrigational infrastructure. Mr Ayorogo said NORPRA prioritized the building of irrigational infrastructure in Northern Ghana as key to accelerate agricultural-led transformation for the eradication of poverty and hunger, and to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals in good time. While commending government for the “One Village, One Dam” initiative, NORPRA urged government to demonstrate more responsiveness and accountability by considering the concerns and development priorities of beneficiary communities for improved quality of the “One Village, One Dam” programme. Responding to the call by the farmers, Mr Peter Ayinbisa Ayamga, the District Chief Executive of Bongo said government would consider their concerns and views to improve the quality of the “One Village, One Dam” programme to benefit the people through increased investment in agriculture. Mr Edgar Dra, the Bongo District Director of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA) called on youth in the District to embrace the “One Village, One Dam” programme to better their lives through livestock and vegetable farming which were in high demand in the dry season. The Paramount Chief of the Bongo Traditional Area, Naba Baba Salifu Atamale Leemiyarum who chaired the forum, advised livestock farmers in the District to control their animals, especially in the dry season and not allow them to destroy crops of other farmers who were engaged in dry season farming. He entreated the District Assembly to enact bye-laws that would criminalize deliberate acts by some livestock farmers who allowed their animals on free-range and destroy the crops of other farmers.