Consortium of five to improve irrigation in Ghana using satellite

The unreliable rainfall pattern in the country coupled with farmers inability to irrigate at the right time, has necessitated a conception workshop by a consortium of five who are going to use satellite to change the face of agriculture in Ghana.

Under the auspices of a Netherlands-based organisation, Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA), the group from diverse background will use satellite including data captured with drones to improve irrigation in the country.

With the satellite data-based irrigation advisory services – timely, accurate and actionable messages – would be made available to Ghanaian farmers who have subscribed to the project to help boost yields.

The farmers would be told when to plant, when to resort to irrigation, the appropriate seeds to use based on the soil type, the right chemical and fertilizer to apply, among other specific farming advice, Dr. Benjamin K. Addom, Programme Coordinator of CTA explained during a stakeholders workshop recently in Accra.

The team is inspired by the success stories of similar projects in Uganda and Sudan championed by CTA as the implementer.

The rest of the consortium are eLEAF BV – in charge of the optical satellite data; and SarVision – responsible for the radar satellite data. The project will also work with the Ghana Irrigation Development Authority and the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, who are ultimately responsible for the end users (Ghanaian farmers) thus mobilising and engaging the farming groups; and Farmerline would be responsible for deploying the necessary technology to transmit the appropriate messages to farmers via mobile devices and receive feedback on behalf of the consortium to ensure sustainability.

The team is currently carrying out feasibility studies in the Upper East region and sourcing for funds to fully implement the project.

The feasibility studies would hopefully be completed by the end of the year, where the value chain would be identified as well as the irrigation scheme to be used for a smooth take off early next year.

Throwing more light on CTA’s activities in Uganda and Sudan, Dr. Addom said Ghana would be at advantage because certain “mistakes” that affected the project in Sudan and Uganda would not be repeated; things that worked there would be improved further for Ghana’s project.Worlali Senyo Director of Growth, Development and Research at Farmerline, noted that farmers who subscribe to the project would be required to pay a small fee. He explained that it is time farmers saw farming as a business and not  hobby so that they can take their activity serious and gain more from it.

Remco Dost, Senior Project Manager at Eleaf, said messages that would be delivered to the farmers would be couched in a very simply way for everyone to understand. Since it is tailored to the specific needs of each farmer, the messages can sometimes be delivered in the local language, he added.

Mr. Asare Mintah, Director of Planning and Coordination at the Ghana Irrigation Development Authority, touted the profitability of applying irrigation in farming.

He hoped the project would be extended to other parts of the country when it fully takes off to improve the output and income of farmers.

Mr. Ohene Damptey, Senior Agric Officer, Project Coordinating Unit of Ministry of Food and Agriculture, emphasised that the ministry is interested in the project, saying it also falls under the 5th Pillar of government’s Planting for Food and Job programme.

The country is in short of agric extension officers, he remarked, therefore a technology that will help divulge the required information to farmers is welcoming.

The financial support from the Dutch government’s Geodata for Agriculture and Water grant programme – will bring the total budget for the big actual project up to approximately €4.5 m – the project is expected to reach 300,000 farmers.

By Isaac Essel | | Ghana


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