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Regional News Thu, 15 Mar 2012

Poor irrigation system detrimental to agricultural production in U/E - Woyongo

Mr. Mark Woyongo, Upper East Regional Minister has observed that the poor irrigation system in the region was responsible for the dwindling agricultural fortunes of the people in the area.

He said the area had few irrigation dams most of which were silted, thus making it difficult for farmers to derive full benefit from those facilities.

He said the decreased capacities of the dams in the area had lowered farming activities particularly in the dry season, and called for the de-silting of the dams for increased agricultural production.

Mr. Mark Woyongo was speaking on Wednesday in Bolgatanga to a team of investors and agricultural experts who were on a tour of the Northern and Upper East Regions to ascertain the suitability of the butter nut squash crop.

The tour was organised by the Savannah Accelerated Development Authority (SADA) which is wooing Mino Weir and Willis (MWW), one of the largest suppliers of U.K’s exotic and fresh fruits, and who have expressed interest, to investing in the production of butter nut squash.

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Mr. Woyongo said irrigation farming was the most appropriate system through which the farmers could derive much benefit because of the erratic rainfall pattern, but added that Irrigation schemes on an individual basis would be quite expensive for the average farmer.

He stressed the need for more irrigation dams to be constructed to improve the situation while the existing dams be de-silted and rehabilitated for their full utilization.

He mentioned the Tono and the Via dams which he said had been tremendous in dry season farming noting that if such dams were de-silted and new ones constructed, poverty would be a thing of the past.

Mr. Woyongo said farmers in the region were among the best vegetable cultivators in the country stressing that tomoteos, onions, watermelons, and mangoes were all being produced in the area but lacked ready market.

Mr. Gilbert Iddi, Chief Executive Officer of SADA said the Authority was determined to breach the North-South development gap through the coordination of comprehensive inter-agency projects.

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He said the Upper East Region was one of the best destinations for the cultivation of the butter nut squash crop which is aimed at reducing poverty.

Mr. Francisco Stargardter, Managing Director of Oxford Fruit Company Ltd, one of the subsidiaries of MWW, indicated that a technical team had already been to the area for a feasibility study and had declared it suitable for the production of the nut.

He said they had been transacting businesses in the country for quite some time now, particularly the purchase of yams, and expressed the optimism that the butter nuts will make good returns.**

Source: GNA