Business News of Monday, 7 August 2017
To better manage crop production, stakeholders in the agriculture sector have met in Accra to discuss the potential of irrigation developments through the use of technology.
This is to kick-start the onset of an irrigation project, which would soon be rolled out in the northern part of the country to help boost irrigation based farming production, which most farmers in the areas depend on to farm.
The Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Co-operation (CTA) based in The Netherlands, in collaboration with Farmerline Ghana Limited and eLEAF BV in The Netherlands, hosted the inception workshop that also featured a field trip to the Kpong Irrigation Scheme in the Greater Accra Region, to observe operations and maintenance on the field.
It was also to help get first-hand information on challenges confronting the use of irrigation for farming.
The Ghana Irrigation Development Authority (GIDA) and Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA), are among the main stakeholders that participated in the workshop.
The workshop continues the long standing collaboration between the partners in helping achieve national development through sustainable agriculture.
With water being a valued commodity in Ghana and given the major role agriculture plays in the economy, the partners decided to bring a three- year project to be implemented in districts within the Upper East Region, where most farmers relied on irrigation for farming.
Dr Worlali Senyo, Director of Growth and Research and Development at Farmerline said his organisation acted as a source that delivered information to farmers in their farming practices.
He said as global and domestic demand for food and other agricultural products increased, there was pressure for growers and irrigation professionals to understand and manage their irrigation storage and distribution systems with greater precision.
He said the workshop, therefore, provided an opportunity for the consortium partners to refine the design of the activity and to discuss the implementation strategies of the irrigation project with other stakeholders.
It also aimed to mobilise potential business partners for an upcoming larger facility proposal that intended to scale up the model beyond irrigated fields to rain-fed fields across the country.
The stakeholders also agreed on roles and responsibilities for the next steps.
Dr Worlali said the main implementation process would involve the transmission of information in the local languages on the best ways to use irrigation and other farming practices via mobile phones for farmers to take appropriate actions.
“From now till the end of the year, we would identify the value chain and irrigation value schemes while the main project would start next year,” he noted.
Dr Worlali said a feasibility studies being funded by CTA with 150,000 Euros would be done together with key partners including GIDA and MoFA, by the end of August, after which the grant would be sourced from CTA to run the project.
Dr Benjamin K. Addom, Programme Co-ordinator of CTA said, his organisation was basically involved in using ICT to build the capacity of agricultural officers, researchers and extension officers on the development of agriculture application to promote relevant agricultural practices.
“We also offer ‘precision agriculture’ and the use of satellite data and drones to give specific advice to farmers to boost their production,” he said.
He said CTA had decided to partner eleaf and Farmerline to introduce precision agriculture in Ghana to help boost agriculture through irrigation programmes within the three- year period.
He said similar projects had already been done in Sudan and another one on-going in Uganda and so the Ghana project to be titled “GEOPUU” literally meaning “the Farm” would be the third to be undertaken.
“With the precision agriculture, we will give accurate information to the farmers and ensure that they also own the project after the three year period,” Dr Addom said.
Mr Alloysius Attah, Chief Executive Officer of Farmerline said: “Satellite data has provided masses of information for years and so Farmerline and its partners are excited to explore how we can gain relevant and actionable insights from this data, to help farmers improve their irrigation practices.”
Mr Remco Dost, Senior Project Manager of eleaf said his organisation was sponsoring various agricultural projects around the world including Ghana, through data supply to help improve farming and best agricultural practices on a global level to sustain food security.
Mr Kwesi Asare Mintah, Director for Planning and Co-ordination at GIDA said there were currently 60 public irrigation projects available in the country that could be explored for any future engagement aimed at helping boost agriculture production.
He said the collaboration with the irrigation project partners was a welcoming thing that had the potential to increase the output of farmers in the areas of implementation.
Mr Ohene Damptey, Senior Agriculture Officer at MOFA said the project tallied with e-agriculture which was a fourth pillar of the Government’s planting for food initiative.