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Tono Irrigation to be Reactivated

2008-03-17 20:08:02
This article has been read 1162 times.

SINCE THE establishment of the Tono Irrigation Project, on March 27, 1975, the facilities at the project have not seen any major maintenance, thereby causing a significant reduction of the original 2,440 hectares of land to 1800 hectares.

The Minister of Food and Agriculture, Mr. Ernest Akubour Debrah, revealed this at the weekend, during the sod-cutting ceremony for the rehabilitation of the Tono Irrigation Scheme at Tono, near Navrongo.

According to the Minister, the loss was due to the siltation and breakage of canals and laterals, making it impossible for water to reach certain developed areas. The situation also led to the loss of income for farmers.

Mr. Debrah said for the sustainable use of the irrigation infrastructure, the new irrigation policy required the government to develop the irrigation facilities, and the farmers and district assemblies to manage and maintain them.

In line with this, the Irrigation Development Authority has designed and is implementing a comprehensive technical training programme, for farmer organizations and the Irrigation Farmers Associations at all irrigation schemes.

The Food and Agriculture Minister said the government had given the Tono Irrigation Project priority in the 2007 budget, with a sum of GH¢7.90 million for the rehabilitation works.

The rehabilitation works include, re-grading and re-gravelling of the main access road, re-gravelling of the dam wall and erosion control of the dam slopes, replacement of lost linings of concrete on main lateral and canals, construction of culverts, desilting of main drain and construction of water control gates.

He charged the contractors, who would undertake the rehabilitation works, to ensure a speedy but high quality execution.

He stressed that the improvement and development of irrigation facilities, to enable all year-round cultivation of high value crops, is a clear manifestation of government’s commitment to modernizing agriculture in the country.

Mr. Debrah said government was aware that any improvements in the facilities of the Tono Irrigation Scheme, would lead to improvement in the economic wellbeing of the people of Navrongo, its environs, and Ghana at large.

Touching on the drought and floods which hit the three northern regions last year, the Minister said the two disasters further exposed the risky nature of rain-fed agriculture in these regions, where farmers cannot predict when to plant, due to the erratic nature of the rains.

He, therefore, observed that irrigation would be the key to economic prosperity of the three northern regions. Another area will be the livestock sub-sector, which the Minister noted, can reduce poverty and create wealth, as Ghana moves towards middle-income status.

Mr. Debrah urged farmers to improve soil fertility, through the use of organic matter/manure, and grow high value crops.

Mr. Alhassan Samari, Upper East Regional Minister, whose speech was read for him by his deputy, Mrs. Agnes Asangalisa Chigabatia, commended the government for seeing to fruition, the region’s long-awaited dream of rehabilitating the Tono Irrigation Dam.

He hoped that a similar support would be extended to the sister irrigation project at Vea, also in the region, to turn the region into the breadbasket of the country.

The Minister of Food and Agriculture later visited the Northern Star Tomato Factory at Pwalugu, where he held a meeting with tomato farmers and management of the factory. Some agreements were reached, between farmers and management, where the tomato farmers will supply the factory with tomatoes at appreciable prices.

The Managing Director of the Irrigation Company, Upper East Region (ICOUR), Alhaji Issah Bukari, had earlier conducted the Minister round most of the irrigated farms, where some farmers were busily seen working.

Mr. Roy Ayaraga, Upper East Regional Director of MOFA, Mr. Joseph Kofi Adda, MP for Navrongo Central, and Mr. Emmanuel Chegeweh, Kassena-Nankana District Chief Executive, were all at the sod-cutting ceremony.

source: Ghanaian Chronicle

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