A rainwater harvesting advocate and industrial management consultant, Trenchard Domegure Youri, says little has been done to tackle irrigation problems faced by small-scale farmers in the country, especially during the harmattan season.
Mr Youri, in an interview with the Daily Statesman, proposed that government should institute a measure like rainwater harvest for small-scale agriculture production by the “tube system” to help farmers in times of prolonged drought.
The proposal, according to him, is also for the ongoing debate on the havoc caused by rainwater in the country. He observed that disruptive rainfall patterns make agriculture difficult, adding that “irrigation is used to assist in the growing of the agricultural crops, maintenance of land copies and renegotiation of disturbed soil in dry areas during period of inadequate rainfall”.
He recounted that the “tube system” for small-scale agriculture production was invented by an Indian military officer who retired from the Indian government military service and returned to his village and settled as a farmer.
“There was a hundred-acre of valley in the village, and so he conveyed a meeting of the villagers at the chief’s palace, where he convinced them to construct a tube at the bottom of the valley to harvest rainwater during the rainy season for use during the dry season. The villagers told him that it was an impossible task. After failing to convince them, he gathered his family members and obtained logistic support from an NGO. They started constructing the tube at the bottom of the valley,” he accounted.
“One week later, some of the villagers went to the site to see the construction of the tube. They saw that there was reality in what they were doing so they joined them. A week later, the whole villagers joined and the tube was constructed.
“During the rainy season, rainwater was harvested into the tube and in the dry season, one acre was allocated to each family in the village for farming during the dry season. One acre was allocated to each family in the village for farming vegetables during the dry season.
“The NGO that financed the project then recommended this idea to the coalition of NGOs Office in the United Nations Headquarters at New York Plaza as a poverty reduction strategy for poverty reduction practitioners,” he explained.
Mr Youri mentioned flood prone areas like Adabraka and its environs, and the measures to harvest water for use during the dry season.
He pointed out what can be done to mitigate the effects on the agriculture sector, stressing that “the agriculture sector remains a dominant force in the country’s economic development.”
According to him, when such places get flooded during the rainy seasons, tube well should be constructed in all the compounds that always get flooded in Adabraka for harvesting the flooded water in those houses, to be used in the dry season.
Mr Youri, also an Associate Member of the Faculty of Secretaries and Administrators (London), suggested that the government should advise the Burkina Faso government to construct a rain water harvesting reservoir behind the Bagre Dam.
“This is because the excess water released from the dam into Ghana causes flooding in Upper East of Ghana. This results in destruction of life and properties. So when it is over flooded for generating electricity, the excess water should be released into the reservoir constructed behind the dam. This water can be used during the dry season for crop production or pumped back into the dam when the water in the dam is low,” he said.
He said all assembly members representing the various districts in the country should identify a valley of between hundred to two hundred acres in their electoral area for the construction of a tube.
“After the rainy season, an acre should be allocated to each household for farming. The Irrigation Development Authority should be the government agency responsible for the designing, construction and management of these tubes. After every three years, new tubes should be identified and constructed until all the valleys in each district in the country are covered with tubes,” he posited.
He proposed that Parliament should pass a law on rain water harvesting in Ghana.
“T.D.Y Rainwater Harvesting Foundation will then work with the National Service personnel to promote rain water harvesting among districts, municipals, metropolitans and other institutions in the country.
“Monitoring should assume importance in rainwater harvesting in order to identify the bottle necks and difficulties in the implementation of the programme and take correct measures. Steps should be taken to organise monitoring units in all the regions and assemblies in the country for harvesting rainwater,” he concluded.