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Ghana Irrigation Development Authority Board Inaugurated   
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Mr Kwesi Ahwoi, Minister for Food and Agriculture (MOFA), on Tuesday said the Ministry under its new project planning, had prioritize irrigation development to play a key role in rural poverty reduction and overall equitable economic development.

He said under the second phase of the Food and Agriculture Sector Development Policy (FASDEP II) and the Medium Term Sector Plan for 2009 to 2015, it was expected that the productivity of irrigation schemes would increase by 25 per cent.

Inaugurating the new Board of Irrigation Development Authority (IDA), Mr Ahwoi said the target would be achieved through judicious use of irrigated lands in both the formal and informal sub-sectors.

He reminded the 11-member Board under the chairmanship of Mallam Issa Seidu, a former Director of the Ministry, of the fast dwindling human capacity of IDA and urged them to use their expertise to tackle that problem.

“The more experienced personnel are old and retiring in unacceptable numbers. Recruitment for replacement has not been allowed, in the immediate past years, thus creating a yawning gap,” the Minister said.

Mr Ahwoi said Ghana’s experience in irrigation was woefully limited and worsened by the habit of shifting cultivation, a farming system which dominates local food production strategies.

He noted that the absence of a logical follow-up of earlier studies of the irrigation potential in the country to produce a national irrigation development plan and a workable policy framework for the implementation of such a plan had been a draw-back in the development of the irrigation sub-sector.

“Despite these and other challenges, irrespective of the many fiscal and financial problems limiting the rapid development of irrigation in Ghana, it is surely one of the key areas that must play an important role in the realization of the objectives of food security and poverty reduction in Ghana, especially rural Ghana.”

“It is for this reason that Government, having recognized the opportunities available to this country for agricultural development to enhance food security and development of agro-based industries is leaving no stone unturned in its attempts to make irrigation take its rightful place in the agricultural development agenda,” he said.

Mr Ahwoi noted that Ghana was well endowed with extensive suitable soils which could be developed to meet the agricultural objectives of the country but the hostilities of the weather, characterized by an unreliable and uneven distribution of rain did not favour any systematic and sustainable development of its agricultural potentials.

The Minister said research into irrigation in the country was quite insignificant, therefore, MOFA would encourage the infusion of research into the country’s irrigation sub-sector by facilitating collaboration between IDA and the universities, research institutions, and other relevant institutions both public and private to improve on irrigation design and practice in Ghana.

“The Ministry of Food and Agriculture is also in consultation with our development partners for training packages for capacity building of the technical staff of the Irrigation Development Authority. Other groups that will benefit from these training packages are local irrigation consultants, contractors and their construction supervisors,” he added.

Mallam Seidu on behalf of his colleagues thanked government for the trust reposed in them and pledged to bring on board their experience to make irrigation projects sustainable.
Source: GNA

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