Irrigated agriculture is at crossroads in Ghana. As water resources become increasingly scarce and demand for efficient and effective usage intensifies, the challenge of sustaining irrigation systems and the lands they serve has
has become a matter of crucial importance. Ghana’s farming systems, which have so far largely been dependent on rain-fed irrigation, have only made modest contributions to food security.
Irrigated lands account for about 25 percent of the cropland of middle-income countries, but in Ghana, less than 25,000 hectares of irrigated land is in use, representing 0.2 percent of cropland, one of the lowest in the world. While irrigated lands contribute 40 percent of global food production, less than 1 percent of food produced in Ghana is obtained from irrigated lands.
Increases in irrigated area, cropping intensity, farming technology and crop yields have helped to stabilize food production per capita, even though population and per capita food intake have grown significantly. Investments in irrigation drive rural growth, create jobs and reduce poverty.
The key challenges to attaining sustained irrigation infrastructure include increasing competition for water and land, rapid population growth, poor management, and declining funding. Investment in irrigated agriculture will have to be done in a sustainable manner to ensure efficient use of scarce resources, including water, and protecting the environment. Agricultural production accounts for more than 75 percent of water usage in the developing world and increased demand for water in agriculture needs to be balanced with the competing demands of other sectors.
Addressing these challenges call for a broad approach to agricultural water management. This entails combining a concern for water resources, agriculture, rural development, and the environment. Strategies to improve agricultural water management include:
i) Managing urbanization and land degradation.
ii) Increasing water productivity in both irrigated and rain-fed areas.
iii) Creating effective and sustainable institutional arrangements, including establishing and strengthening water users’ associations.
iv) Promoting the involvement of the private sector, and ensuring that irrigation systems are financially viable.
v) Helping farmers adapt to climate change, and
These concerns would be addressed by partners of the Institute in conjunction with agencies specialized in irrigation infrastructure.