Business News of Saturday, 10 September 2016
A scoping study to understand and identify viable options for interventions to improve climate resilient agriculture in the Northern Region has identified conservative agriculture, flood recession and small scale farming as the most potent toll of increasing farm productivity in the Savannah ecological zone.
The study reveals that at least 40 million cubic meters of water falls and runs off from the Savannah ecological zone through Akosombo into the sea and other sources and are wasted at the detriment of farmers.
The researchers, Market Development for Northern Ghana, are therefore calling for all hands on deck to take up the role of realizing the potential of farming in the zone.
For flood recession, Chief Executive Director of SADA Charles Abugri emphasized the need to prioritize the construction of strategic flood-controlling dams, which will serve us suck-away and as the first line of defence that will prevent flooding of the downstream.
According to Charles Abugri, the water which is lost yearly when harnessed can be used for agriculture, aquaculture, tourism and other income making ventures.
He revealed the Savannah Accelerated Development Authority (SADA) has identified the Pwalugu Dam as a strategic flood control dam which is meant to be the first line of defence when the Bagre Dam opens but has been on the black board since 1965.
The Sisili and the Nasia Dams, he added, could also be strategically positioned as the first suck-aways which can manage the sensible use of water.
Thus he is urging “the various district assemblies to learn to support communities to create strategic dug outs that can also act as flood control dams whiles families learning to harvest water”.
He was speaking at a final workshop organized by the Market Development for Northern Ghana in Tamale to table down viable interventions to realizing the potentials of increasing farming productivity.
Participants at the workshop The programme leader at the Market Development for Northern Ghana (MADE), Augustine Adongo, called on the legislature for the alignment of the policies on irrigation in general, subsidies, and policy on conservation agriculture.
These he is optimistic will encourage investors to venture into agriculture.
He opines legacies are enough for some private persons to invest in agriculture, however, the unavailability of some level of policy certainties and predictability puts the investor at risk.
On funding, Augustine Adongo again is urging private sector players who have a strong profit motive to assume the position of delivering real value to small holder farmers but added the call for the implementation of the various policies that assure investors of a good return after their investment.
“In terms of delivering real value to the small holder farmer, it has to be the private sector with a strong profit motive because profit motive is a very strong incentive but they will not be able to do alone.
“Some of the pieces of equipment that would be needed, the policy environment currently may not support the acquisition of these equipment, for instance if I invest in improving the soil on land that I can only hold for a year, there no incentives for doing that”.
Market Development for Northern Ghana revealed its preparedness to partner SADA, the Savannah Agriculture Research Institute (SARI) and the Northern Regional Ministry of Agriculture to see if a lot more background work research, “ to see who in the ministry may be able to say a word in parliament to change things”.
Augustine Adongo also charged farmer-based organizations to quit seeing themselves as social groupings but as organizations that are delivering real value to their members farmers by defining commercial discipline for sustainability.
A representative from International Water Management Institute, a key player in the research, also challenged government to empower the youth to take up private irrigation on small scale farms during the dry season to ensure an all year round farming season.