Mr. Speaker, I wish to associate myself with this very important Statement made by my hon. Colleague from the Akan consti- tuency. Mr. Speaker, in my tradition or in my language, it is often said, and I quote:
Saa la kuobo. This means without water, there can be no farming. Indeed, if one takes a look at most of the communities in which there are irrigation facilities, the tendency is for their feeding habits to improve and there is more or less food self-sufficiency in those communities.
Mr. Speaker, a long while ago,
particularly in the driest part of this country, even in the colonial times, particularly in the Bawku area, a lot of irrigation dams were constructed so that water could be harvested for use during the dry season to cultivate various food crops. Mr. Speaker, the Vea Irrigation Project and the Tono Irrigation Project, both in the Upper East Region, and the Bontanga Irrigation Project in the Northern Region has in no small way contributed to the improvement of the livelihood of the communities living around those areas. It is in this respect that I believe the Statement made by my hon. Colleague should be taken very seriously so that Government would take a new look at agricultural development in our country.
Mr. Speaker, the rainfall season in most parts of this country has grown shorter and quite often, from year to year the total amount of rain that falls has reduced and even the predictability of rainfall pattern is no longer easy to make. It is in this respect that I believe a new look, a new strategy of agriculture that does not depend on rain- fed farming should be taken a look at. Mr. Speaker, in this respect, I recognise that it costs a lot of money to construct irrigation projects but I believe that the maintenance of the scheme is also important.
At this point in time, particularly in the Vea and Tono irrigation areas, because of intensive use of the soil, a lot of them have been degraded, and even there are infestations of certain parasitic diseases such as nematode infections in the Tono and Vea area thereby affecting large-scale
production of tomatoes. I believe that whenever irrigation is undertaken, the land is used more intensively than in what we call large-scale rain-fed farming.
In this respect the extensive nature of farming destroys a lot of the landscape and most of the communities get involved in shifting cultivation rather than using land rotation as a method of farming. In this respect, I would like to call on Government, particularly to take a very keen look at areas that are now suffering from food shortages and undertake the construction of at least, medium-scale or small-scale dams that can harvest water, which mostly run waste during the rainy season, so that during the dry season such water can be used at least, for the cropping or the growing of vegetables and other food crops.
Mr. Speaker, in this respect, I believe that priority should be given to areas which have what we call, uni-modal rainfall pattern. It is true that in those areas where it rains twice in the season, they might also need some irrigation because that can be used more properly to time the growth of various crops. But I believe that at this point in time where irrigation infrastructure is still very low in our country, the start should be made with areas that have only one rainy season.
Mr. Speaker, in this respect, I would like to call on District Assemblies to take a look at the construction of dams using some of their Common Funds. I believe that in the area of small-scale dams, with a billion cedis, I am sure every District Assembly could at least, construct two dams or one dam every year. If this were done on a regular basis, by this time, a lot of communities could have had complementary water for their irrigation purposes.
I believe that the Irrigation Develop- ment Authority (IDA) as presently constituted has the technical know-how to do this. What I believe is lacking is budgetary allocation for the construction of these dams and I believe that with HIPC now generating a lot of funds, a lot more money should be given to the IDA to undertake the construction of small-scale dams in a lot of farming communities. I believe that if this were done, it will improve our agricultural sustainability and we would be more food-sufficient than is currently the situation.
With this, Mr. Speaker, I thank you for giving me the opportunity.