Vegetable Farmers Cry For Help
Members of the Michel Camp Farmers Association are appealing to government to come to their aid by dredging the existing agricultural dam built some 38 years ago to enable them produce vegetables throughout the year.
The call was made on Monday by the farmers when The Chronicle undertook a fact-finding visit to the dam site, to acquaint itself with reports of alleged harassment by soldiers.
The dam is presently witnessing an unprecedented drought, leaving the reservoir with no water for the farmers operating downstream. The intake pipe, this reporter noted, is lying higher than the bed of the water, making it impossible for any flow through the pipe line to the irrigation cana,l before distribution to the farms.
As we moved from farm to farm, it is clear that the low level of water in the dam had adversely affected the vegetables.
The chairman of the Michel Camp Farmers Association, Mr. Matthew Teye Glover told The Chronicle that he and his members farm by using water from the dam since its construction in the early 1970s by the late General Ignatius Kutu Acheampong’s administration, during the Operation Feed Yourself (OFY) concept.
According to him, the reservoir of the dam was always filled with water and that encouraged the farmers to give their best, but the same cannot be said today.
The Michel Camp dam, which was primarily constructed to serve the drinking needs of cattle being reared by the soldiers, has now come under attack from two fronts – that is, human and nature.
Buildings have been constructed to block the flow of creeks that feed the dam and this has resulted in the main reservoir losing its feeding sources. Beside the construction, a larger portion of the dam had also been turned into a refuse dumping ground, an act which is silting the reservoir.
As though this is not enough, nature has also not been kind to the installation this year, as the rains are not coming down either.
Reacting to a publication by an Accra daily to the effect that soldiers are terrorizing the farmers, Mr. Teye Glover who was surprised at the story said that on the contrary, the soldiers have been of tremendous help to the farmers.
According to him no soldier has ever asked the farmers to vacate the land and denied the said report which states that the Michel Camp dam was built for the farmers but has been hijacked by the soldiers.
Rather, he said, the farmers are benefiting from the generosity of the soldiers and not the other way round.
On the allegation that the dam has been sold to a company, WATER HELP COMPANY, to treat water for human consumption and also for the cattle of the soldiers, Mr. Teye Glover said that it was rather the absence of water in the dam that was keeping the farmers away from their farms.
He also denied the allegation that some of the farmers are being forced to harvest their onions due to the seizure of the dam by the soldiers.
The chairman again stated that the publication was malicious and aimed at destroying the existing good relations between the farmers and their hosts, the soldiers. He went on to say that even keys to the valve of the intake section are being kept by the farmers.
When The Chronicle reached the military for reaction, a highly placed source at Burma Camp just laughed over the publication, saying that it is not the making of soldiers that the dam became dry.
The source called on all stakeholders, such as the farmers and persons residing in the communities bordering the dam to protect it by not resorting to building on water ways and also not dumping refuse into the reservoir.
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