President Nana Akufo-Addo has cut the sod for the rehabilitation and expansion of the Kpong Left Bank Irrigation Project, at Torgome, in the North Tongu district of the Volta Region.
With the country possessing 1.9 million hectares of irrigable land, only 210,000 hectares is suitably developed, representing a little over 11% of the total area which can be potentially irrigated.
The Ghana Commercial Agricultural Project, in consultation with the Ghana Irrigation Development Authority (GIDA), has selected for rehabilitation and modernization the Kpong Left Bank Irrigation Project (KLBIP), together with four other major public irrigation schemes.
Speaking at the end of his three-day tour of the region, the President said, the project will rehabilitate, modernise and expand the existing gravity irrigation scheme from 450 hectares to 2,000 hectares, i.e. more than four-fold.
On successful completion of the project, water made available by the modernized and expanded dam should increase food production through increased cropping intensity as a result of a more reliable supply of water.
This supply, the President said, will be directly available to 17 communities of a combined population of over 6,000 people, with some of the benefits to the neighbouring communities including increased earnings of smallholder farmers, through double-cropping under irrigated conditions, and the creation of jobs, in addition to the completion of various agri-businesses down the value-chain.
“Based on a comprehensive evaluation, nine crops have been selected for cultivation under the scheme. These are rice, maize, soya bean, cowpea, pepper, okra, cabbage, watermelon, and butternut squash.
“The irrigated area will be cropped twice a year, resulting in a 200 percent cropping intensity, and a total cropped area of four thousand (4,000) hectares per annum,” he said.
To link small-holder farmers effectively to markets, the scheme will have provision for large farming enterprises with substantial technical, managerial and financial expertise and working capital.
“This Project will cost the Ghanaian taxpayer an estimated US$25,503,296. It is expected that the operation, maintenance and management of the scheme will be financed by irrigation water users in the scheme, through regular payment of irrigation service charges,” President Akufo-Addo noted.
He thanks and urged staff of GIDA, GCAP, the consultant, contractor and the chiefs and elders and members of the beneficiary communities to continue to play the roles expected of them to ensure that the project is completed on schedule.
“We are determined to transform Ghanaian agriculture and break with the recent, dismal record of decline and negative growth that has characterised the sector. That way, we can justify the huge investments that Government is making in the project,” he added.