General News of Sunday, 3 July 2016
An agronomist, Dr. Abu Sakara Foster has called for private-public partnership in Ghana’s national irrigation policy to help increase productivity in the agriculture sector.
Currently, there are twenty-two irrigation projects all over the country constructed by the Ghana Irrigation Authority, covering over 6,000 hectares.
In addition to this, there are 22 schemes constructed under the Small Scale Irrigation Development Project and six schemes under the Small Farms Irrigation Project.
But Speaking to Citi Business News in an exclusive interview, Dr. Sakara stated that Ghana’s irrigation policy has been rendered ineffective due to its inability to incorporate the private sector for optimum results.
“We have to have renewed focus, because at the end of the day to have a total irrigable area of 0.4 percent of the cultivated area is basically not acceptable. We need to attack that,” he urged.
According to him, the nature of modern agriculture relies so much on irrigation such that it cannot be ignored.
“If you want to enhance productivity where you mean that you are going to invest in technology, invest in input, and invest in management, all that is based on one thing, availability of water,” he stressed.
He pointed out that seeing irrigation as either a public good or a private good is a misplaced move since it requires a partnership to make it sustainable.
“Part of the problem in this country is that we see irrigation as a private good, where the private farmer must take-up all the cost. The other side also is that we see it as public good so government must take full cost. Anything that belongs to government has been left to rot,” he said.
Providing some recommendations, Dr. Sakara called for a national policy that will clearly define roles that the private sector can play to meet the role of government.
“We can make it easier for the private people to take the water from reaching the farm to the crops as private good. From where it is to the farm will be a water way so those investment will be a public sector investment. Then we can see how much of our cultivatable area is irrigable”, he said.
He explained that the path to connect a farm to a source of water is less costly compared to bringing the water from a distance to the farm which can only be handled by the government since it is capital intensive.
He added that that a private-public partnership will not only increase productivity but create jobs for people through investment.