While government has allocated a little over GH¢253million for constructing the Pwalugu Multi-Purpose Dam as mentioned in the 2023 national budget, the Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana (PFAG) has described the amount as woefully inadequate.
Although the association commended government for appreciably prioritising irrigation, Executive Director-PFAG, Dr. Charles Nyaaba, addressing the media at the Association’s Post-Budget Forum in Accra said: “The allocation to Pwalugu is woefully inadequate for any meaningful irrigation development”.
Aside from the planned investment in Pwalugu, government said in 2023 it will spend an extra GH¢200million on irrigation infrastructural expansion… particularly in the Northern zone.
But Dr. Nyaaba said though the intended gesture is good, it appears other parts of the country – specifically the middle and southern parts – are continuously left out of these investments.
“Farmers in the Volta, Oti, Central, Western and other regions are plagued with continuous reliance on rain-fed agriculture, with little or no investment in irrigation. Government should expand these irrigation schemes to cover all irrigable lands in the country,” he implored.
About Pwalugu, delay and recent allocation
Construction of the Pwalugu multi-purpose dam was designed to contribute significantly in the country’s quest to ensure food security during the years to come.
However, apart from the sod-cutting that was done at the site in 2019, construction of the estimated US$993million dam which was expected to be completed in 2023 is yet to begin.
When completed, it is anticipated that the multi-purpose dam will provide an irrigation scheme covering an area of 25,000 hectares and improve water supply to the country’s Northern parts.
But the project’s delay, the PFAG has said in numerous statements, calls for concern as farmers have become apprehensive about its future and viability.
The organisation in its previous media engagements suggested government should prioritise agriculture during discussions with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), so as to devote a substantial amount of gains from the bailout to constructing the dam.
The Association therefore considers the GH¢253million allocation to kick-start the project a good commitment from government.
The PFAG believes that the dam’s construction will not only address flooding situations caused by the Bagre Dam and other concerns of farmers in the area, but also contribute significantly to the national food security agenda.
As part of the overall plan to develop Ghana’s irrigation system government has been investing in agriculture mechanization, as it seeks to invest some US$29.9million next year to procure machinery and equipment to deepen modernisation.
Indeed, 25 percent of equipment supplied as part of this strategy has already been distributed to farmers, according to MoFA.