Ghana’s Irrigation Potentials Untapped
By Masahudu Ankiilu Kunateh, Ghanadot
Accra, Jan 20, Ghanadot - The total potential of irrigable
land in Ghana is put at 500,000 hectares with the current
area developed for irrigation estimated at 11,000
hectares. This means that as a country, after 50 years of
independence, Ghana has been able to develop only 0.02% of
its irrigable land.
It is therefore no surprise that irrigation has not
as yet impacted significantly on Ghana’s food production.
Ghana needs to pay more attention to irrigationif the country is to develop and expand its agro-industries
for the country’s economic growth and development at this
stage, experts have warned.
Ghana has comparative advantage in the cultivation of many
crops, especially export vegetables but due to low
productivity, poor product quality, poor timing of harvest
for export and other factors, the country has not taken full
advantage of her share of the world’s horticultural market
to turn things around.
One of the most important factors that have been identified
as militating against the growth of the agricultural are
inadequate and limited irrigation infrastructure and
Also, increase in agricultural growth will require major
investments in irrigation infrastructure, which will create
opportunities for the private sector to establish primarily
agro-based businesses in rural areas.
The need for irrigation is deeply rooted in the fact that it
is important that Ghana reduces over dependence on rainfall
in order to achieve more reliable levels of crop production
in both quantity and quality and provide opportunities for
farmers to adopt improved farming practices and to practice
farming as a business throughout the year.
Additionally, the absence of irrigation makes investments in
the agricultural sector risky due to frequent dry spells
which can seriously affect crop production. It is no
surprise at all that most of our local financial
institutions, especially banks shy away from agricultural
Furthermore, there is a huge potential for agricultural
development, sustained food production, food security and
poverty reduction if Ghana could adopt an improved and
integrated approach to the management of its water resources
However, the out-gone Kufuor-led administration had chalked
a number of successes since it took over the governance of
this country in January 2001.
These include: the government completed the rehabilitation
of nine existing irrigation schemes in 2006 at a total cost
of GH¢6.5million under the Agricultural Sub-Sector
Improvement Programme. In addition, an amount of $3million
has been spent for the provision of pumps and sprinklers
under the Exim Bank, India grant facility. These schemes are
located at Bontanga in the, Kpando Torkor, Aveyime and Afife
all in the Volta, Subinaja and Tanoso both in the Brong
Ahafo, Sata and Akomadan in the Ashanti and Weija in the
Greater Accra Regions.
The government is also rehabilitating a number of breached
dams for 72 communities in the Northern, Upper East and
Upper West Regions at a total cost of GH¢12.5million.
While under the Small Scale Irrigation Development Project,
the government is putting an area of 2,300 hectares under
irrigation. This project will be completed in March next
year and is estimated to cost $30.5million. Nine regions are
to benefit from the project.
Additionally, under the Small Farms Irrigation Development
Project, the government had spent an amount of $11.9
million to irrigate a total area of 820 hectares in
the Ashanti, Brong Ahafo, Western and Volta Regions. This
project had been completed in December, last year to augment
irrigation facilities in the country.
The government is currently undertaking a feasibility study
of the Accra Plains Irrigation Project which is expected to
identify 200,000 hectares after which the ongoing zoning
process will also identify 5,000 hectares as the priority
area for irrigation development.
The project when completed will be used to cultivate crops
such as banana, soyabean, rice, pineapple, mango, maize,
groundnut and cowpea. This will help boost agricultural
production and contribute to the satisfaction of growing
domestic demand for food and raw materials for agro-based
industries in the country.
Ghana’s parliament had recently approved an irrigation
policy that seeks to provide strategies and appropriate
regulatory framework for irrigation development and
expansion in the country. The policy also seeks to make the
operation and maintenance of irrigation schemes more
participatory through the involvement of farmers in all
aspects of management at all levels.