Photo credit: IWMI
Photo: Joe Ronzio
Intensifying sustainable agricultural production through improved smallholder irrigation, flood-recession farming, and enhanced rainfed production systems and related ecosystem services is a key priority in the work being carried out by the CGIAR Research Program on Water, Land and Ecosystems (WLE) in the Volta River Basin. In a recent engagement with the Savannah Accelerated Development Authority (SADA) on the theme ‘Enhancing research to policy and practice’ held in Tamale, Ghana, on February 16-17, 2016, participants were of the view that addressing the water challenge was key to transforming livelihoods through increased production in the SADA zone.
In his opening remarks, Mr. Charles Abugre, Chief Executive Officer, SADA, noted that “to improve livelihoods and transform the economy of northern Ghana, the water in the Volta along with its associated values and ecologies must be harnessed in a sustainable manner that will not endanger the communities along the White and Black Volta.”
Honorable Dr. Donald Adabre, a former Ambassador and the current Upper East Region Commissioner of the National Development Planning Commission (NDPC), called for the incorporation of the research conducted in the SADA zone into policy and planning. He noted that research findings which propose solutions to the challenges in the SADA zone will enhance people’s livelihoods and bring an end to the prevalent poverty in the region.
The unpredictability of rainfall patterns and amount in northern Ghana implies the need for farmers to engage in dry-season farming to boost their incomes. Government-managed irrigation schemes in northern Ghana (Tono, Vea and Botanga) are operating below full capacity. Many farmers who engage in private irrigation practices use either pumps or buckets to draw water from shallow wells, dug-outs, rivers or small reservoirsfor vegetable production. Despite the relatively small land area, often less than half a hectare per person, men and women who cultivate during the dry season have found farming to be lucrative.
Discussions between stakeholders present at the meeting indicated that, in the face of climate change and drought, dry-season farming was not just an option but a necessity if the fortunes of northern Ghana were to change. Hence, the call to improve on agricultural water management that will enable dry-season farming in the zone, and thus support a second cropping beyond the single cropping per year that is currently being practiced. Important interventions should include expansion of irrigation schemes to make them more accessible to a larger number of people, and strengthening other smallholder irrigation practices that are individually or communally driven.
SADA to benefit from IWMI’s agricultural water management solutions for dry-season farming
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