General News of Monday, 29 August 2016
In the face of questions about the feasibility of their latest policy proposal, the opposition NPP is maintaining that its one-village, one-dam policy in Northern Ghana is based on science and will be done.
“Agriculture doesn’t happen without water”, the Chairman of the Agriculture Sector Committee of the New Patriotic Party, Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto told Joy FM’s Super Morning Show Monday.
NPP flagbearer Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo announced the policy whilst addressing the Bolgatanga Traditional Council in the Upper East Region.
He said if voted into office in December, his government would implement a policy to sink a dam in every village in the three northern regions – Northern, three East and Upper West regions – as part of its measures to enhance agricltural productivity in the Savanna regions.
Since the announcement, some critics have questioned the viability of the policy, saying it is simply too expensive and impracticable to build a dam in every village.
Senior Lecturer and Head of the Department of Economics and Entrepreneurial Studies at the University for Development Studies, Wa Campus, Dr. Paul Kwame Nkegbe, said, “realistically, we do not need to create a dam at every village.”
He said currently there are existing dams which are falling apart because of lack of maintenance. These dams, he said, should be maintained to make them accessible to farmers, “then we will know exactly how many other places will need whether it’s a micro irrigation scheme of a small dam.”
He said the cost of constructing a dam is simply too prohibitive it may not be possible to build one in every village.
The NPP MP for Kwadaso in the Ashanti region disagreed.
“What Nana Addo is talking about are small community dams…you could even have two or three dams in a village”.
Uncertainty over number villages
Dr Afryie was, however, unable to tell how many villages there are in the three regions which would benefit from the project.
“I wouldn’t know how many villages there are because I don’t want to speculate. The experts know the villages”, he said on the Joy FM Super Morning Show.
Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto said the one village, one dam policy of the NPP looks to replicate the agricultural successes of Burkina Faso.
The Kwadaso MP said it is common to see ‘seven, eight, ten’ truck-loads of onions from Burkina Faso lined up by the road in his constituency to do business in Ghana.
The NPP believes that Burkina Faso has been successful because it has answered the question of constant water supply to farms.
But there is uncertainty not only about the number of beneficiary communities, but also the cost and even whether it is a borehole or a dam.
Dr. Afriyie Akoto recalled sinking a borehole at a cost of GHC 50,000 in his constituency and expects that the NPP proposal may cost less per project.
He explained that the 1-village, 1-dam policy is not expected to be costly because the NPP is not looking at huge multi-million dollar dams associated with high cost of maintenance.
In a submission that could generate further controversy, Dr. Afriyie Akoto suggested it may not be a dam but a borehole.
“A lot of it will be boreholes…these are low cost but strategically a very effective way of boosting agriculture…It is only digging a hole. It is nothing huge,” he maintained.
He said the three regions of the North have only one rainfall season to bank their fortunes of the farm lands on unlike the southern regions which enjoy two seasons of rain.
“If there is a failure in the rain season, there is a disaster” he said and indicated that there are reports that failed farms have led to highly indebted farmers committing suicide.
He said farmers need not be apprehensive about the rainfall in a farming season because Ghana has a favourable water table.
The NPP policy is feasible because it is based on the science of the soil. It is also cost effective because building dams is “not something that is going to require all the resources of the country to implement”.