Farming activities of peasant farmers in Wiiro in the Sissala West District of the Upper West Region has received a major boost with the construction of a modern irrigation system and a warehouse by Solidaridad, an international civil society organisation in Accra.
Provided under their Sustainable Maize Programme (SMP), the facilities are to help the farmers diversify their activities and also promote dry season farming in the area as well as improve yields and incomes of farmers in Northern Ghana.
The facilities which are valued at GH¢750,000 was financed under the SMP, which is a five-year Public Private Partnership (PPP) programme jointly implemented by Solidaridad West Africa and Masara N’Arziki Farmers Association with funding from the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Masara Farmers Association.
Inaugurating the facility here yesterday, the Regional Director of Solidaridad West Africa, Isaac Gyamfi said the negative effects of climate change required that rural farmers diversify their activities to ensure sustainable livelihoods.
He said the phenomenon of climate change had become one of the numerous challenges confronting and impeding the growth and sustainability of most farmers in the northern part of the country.
To this end, he said Solidaridad seeks to support the growth of farmers in the country as a whole and rural farmers, in particular, due to the poverty levels by providing farmers with the necessary technologies that enable them diversify their farming activities.
Dr. Gyamfi explained that one of the surest ways of dealing with the effects of climate change and reducing poverty was by encouraging farmers to adopt dry season farming as a compliment to their traditional seasonal farming practices.
He therefore urged the farmers to see the provision of the irrigation facility and the warehouse as an important life transforming intervention and adopt drying season farming as their new way of life, adding that “We will continue to support the farmers to make them strong.”
The Director of Operations for Masara N’Arziki, Peter Kulve said his company had been supporting smallholder farmers in the country for the past nine years with both technical and financial assistance.
He said the success of their interventions had made it imperative to continue to support the farmers and expand its operations.
Mr. Kulve said as part of its expansion project, it sought assistance from the Dutch government, which provided a counterpart funding of two million euros for the implementation of the programme, dubbed the SMP.
He said in all, the project was four million euros and Masara N’Arziki was providing the remaining part of the money to fund it.
Mr. Kulve said the provision of the warehouse and the irrigation facility were examples of what they have been trying to do for farmers, stressing that “We are trying to introduce farmers to new techniques.”
The Project Advisor at the Netherlands Enterprise Agency, Ing. Jan Van Saane, on his part, said the facilities formed part of efforts at strengthening the farm management skills and market position of about 12,000 farmers in the northern part of the country.
To this end, he said farmers were also introduced to more resilient and ecologically balanced cropping systems, which aimed at contributing to poverty alleviation and gender equality.
Ing. Saane explained that the project uses an integrated approach including, expanding and strengthening farmer organisation, building capacity of farmers on conservation of maize-based cropping systems, providing technical support for harvesting and post harvest treatment, establishing a financing scheme for farmers and building their capacity on advocacy and ensuring gender balance.
He said the project has so far completed building two warehouses in Toronto and Wiiro with two more warehouses expected to be ready by the end of April this year.
From Cliff Ekuful, Wiiro