The Kpong Left Bank Irrigation Project (KLBIP), commenced in March last year to supply water to farming communities along the bank of River Volta under the Ghana Commercial Agriculture Project (GCAP), has seen significant progress and work done is about 65 percent complete.
The US$34million World Bank funded project is aimed at rehabilitating an old manual irrigation scheme to an automated system, expanding its scope to cover a wider serviced land size and modernising the distribution process.
Bhaskara Rao, Project Manager of Wapcos – an Indian firm executing the project, stated the automation system adopted under the project is the ‘Remote Terminal System (RTS)’ which consists of terminal units that regulate between single to three water gates depending on the farm size, and uses solar power to minimise cost of power.
“With this system, data is collected, transmitted and recorded automatically in real-time with no human interference. Alarms are fixed on the system to give notification of minimum and maximum water levels,” he said.
The irrigation system gets its source of water from the River Volta through a main canal that joins two secondary canals and further divides downstream to the various farms through smaller drains.
Project Coordinator-GCAP, Osei Owusu-Agyeman, speaking to media on a tour of the facility, indicated that the project has been automated to minimise water wastage – and when completed will provide farmers within the community opportunity to farm the whole year round as the irrigation system will supply water all year round.
“Hitherto, most irrigation schemes charged farmers based on hectares cultivated, which is not scientific; and so this project is automated to ensure farmers pay for what they have used,” he said.
With regard to cost for farmers when the project is complete, he noted that the project covers 2,000 hectares of land, and the pilot scheme which covers about 84 hectares was started this month and will be monitored rigorously to determine prices.
“At the end of it, we will be able to identify the cost of land, water, inputs and so on, which will determine the amount that farmers pay,” he said.
He further noted that the project is estimated to accommodate about 1,000 farmers and its automation will ensure fairness in the usage of water, as there are systems in place to record water used and then charge per litre.
The project development objective (PDO) is to improve agricultural productivity of smallholder farmers and bring on board selected commercial farmers – identified under the project as anchor farmers who will train and introduce the smallholder farmers to best agronomical practices as well as serve as ready market to farmers.
The KLBIP will bring better remuneration to the rural folk and thereby enhance their living standards. This can help ensure SDG goals one and two; no poverty and zero hunger respectively in the area.
GCAP in consultation with Ghana Irrigation Development Authority (GIDA) has selected four major public irrigation schemes for rehabilitation and modernisation: namely the Kpong Left Bank Irrigation Project (KLBIP)–Volta Region; Kpong Irrigation Scheme (KIS)–Eastern/Greater Accra Region; Tono Irrigation Scheme-Upper East Region; and Vea Irrigation Scheme–Upper East Region.