Over 6,000 acres of farms lost to floods up north
The recent spillage of the Bagre Dam in Burkina Faso has affected over 6,000 acres of farmlands within the five regions of the north – Northern, North-East, Upper East, Upper West and Savannah.
The development poses a serious threat to livelihoods of affected farmers, the majority of whom – 90 percent – are smallholders who contracted loans to finance their production.
The affected crops include maize, sorghum, groundnut, rice and vegetables.
Executive Director of the Peasant farmers Association of Ghana (PFA), Dr. Charles Nyaaba, disclosed this to the B&FT and called for a permanent solution to the perennial destruction of farmlands in northern parts of the country due to planned spillages of the Bagre Dam in neighbouring Burkina Faso.
“What we have not also been able to do in recent times is ensure that we have sustainable water reservoirs – including dams, dug-outs among others – to harvest the water and enable farmers to utilise it for production,” he said.
He therefore called for the rehabilitation of irrigation dams and development of new ones to harvest water from the Bagre Dam. Doing so, he explains, will not only solve the annual destruction of property but boost all-year-round farming.
According to him, only a few dams constructed by the Acheampong regime, over 30 years ago, like the Botanga and Golinga in the Northern Region; and Tono and Vea dams and irrigation sites in the Upper East Region are still there to promote year-round production.
“When you go to Egypt, the Nile River has been preserved with some reservoirs created along the banks to contain water for domestic or irrigational activities, promoting all year-round farming. In Brazil, every community has an irrigational scheme for agricultural productions; in the United States of America (USA), similar interventions are being used, as well in India. The key success factor for Indian agriculture is irrigation. These initiatives also mitigate climate change-related issues,” he explained.
Ghana, he said, is fortunate to have a lot of rivers, with more water from the Burkina Faso Bagre spillage and rains which can be reserved for agriculture productions in the dry season – but they are not properly controlled.
“Climate change has become a matter of concern to stakeholders – development partners and research institutions. Our worry is the fact that we have not been able to put measures in place to mitigate it,” he added.
Explaining further, he said: “When you go to most countries, there is a commodity that they have comparative advantage in; and even within Ghana, there are certain commodities that are related to certain parts of ecological zones – like cocoa, which is a cash crop for farmers within the coastal forestry in the southern zone.
“In Northern Ghana, because we have several crops, we have not been able to specialise; but in recent years, we have realised that sorghum has become a cash crop for farmers in the northern parts due to high demand by the brewery companies.”
Dr. Nyaaba stated that: “As farmers, we are very much disappointed in government’s failure to execute the Pwalugu Multipurpose Dam project after the sod-cutting for commencement of the dam, which we were told would help increase food production”.