A farmer in the Upper East Region of Ghana has lost his 150-acre maize and 75-acre rice farms to floods caused by excess water spilt from the Bagre Dam in Burkina Faso.
Suleman Usman told Kwabena Prah Jr on Accra100.5FM’s morning show, Ghana Yensom, on Wednesday, 2 September 2020 that all the crops have been swallowed up by the floods.
The spillage of the dam started on 10 August 2020.
“There’s nothing to salvage; everything has been spoilt by the floods,” Mr Usman told Prah Jr.
He said “we were aware of the spillage but we have been cultivating this particular farmland since time immemorial but the construction of the Bagre Dam has brought a lot of destruction in its wake”.
The farmer complained that the failure of different governments over the years to put up receptacle dams, has worsened the problem.
“Successive governments have said they intend putting up other dams to receive the excess water from the Bagre Dam so that we can use it to do our dry season farming but they keep on promising but they don’t do it,” he lamented.
Mr Usman said: “These are some of the things that are worsening our situation and the Ghana government and the Burkinabe government are supposed to also talk so that they will look at the way out so that the spillage wouldn’t be spoiling our farms this way”.
He, however, noted that only farms have been submerged so far, as the authorities gave ample notice of the spillage to enable people to move out of harm’s way.
Last year, President Nana Akufo-Addo broke ground for the construction of the Pwalugu Multipurpose Dam and Irrigation Project, which is aimed at mitigating the devastating effects of the annual spillage of the Bagre Dam.
The project, according to President Akufo-Addo, “will be the single, largest investment ever made by any government in the northern sector of the country”, and is in fulfilment of a pledge he made to the Ghanaian people on 21 February, when he delivered the State of the Nation Address.
Cutting the sod for the construction on Friday, 29 November 2019, the President stated that the pledge he made was to the effect that construction of the dam will permanently “avert the perennial flooding caused by the spillage of the Bagre Dam” in neighbouring Burkina Faso.
“Today, we begin the process of realising this pledge. Today, we start the process of helping to bring respite to the people of the northern regions of our country, and to lay the foundation for the sustained growth and development of the area,” he added.
The Pwalugu Multipurpose project will consist of three main components, namely the construction of a hydropower plant; the construction of a solar farm; and the establishment of an irrigation scheme covering an area of some twenty-five thousand (25,000) hectares.
President Akufo-Addo noted that the 60-megawatt hydropower plant and the 50-megawatt solar power plant will be the very first hydro-solar hybrid system in the country, with the two technologies complementing each other to provide reliable and stable electricity supply to the national grid.
Additionally, the irrigation component of this project, the largest ever built in the country, with 15,000 out-grower beneficiaries, the President added, will complement the gains made by programmes such as “One Village-One Dam” and “Planting for Food and Jobs”.
With the transformation of the north hinging on creating infrastructure, and supporting agriculture and agro-based industries, the President bemoaned the fact that in the dry season, agricultural work comes to a halt in the regions up north, as farmers continue to be dependent on rain-fed agriculture.
“Irrigation, therefore, remains a key strategy to achieve food security, the eradication of poverty and generation of rural employment in the northern sector, in particular, and, generally, across the country,” he said.
President Akufo-Addo continued, “With millions of dollars spent on rice imports annually, in the midst of an abundance of fertile lands, this project has the potential to increase annual rice production in the country by up to one hundred and seventeen thousand (117,000) metric tons, reducing rice imports by as much as 16%.”
Again, he revealed that the Pwalugu reservoir can accommodate up to one hundred and twenty thousand (120,000) cages of twenty-five (25) square metres each of fish, with an average yield of two (2) tons per cage, making possible the continuous development of the country’s aquaculture and fisheries sector.
This project, he added, is also very crucial to the realisation of the “One District-One Factory” initiative, as it will serve as a catalyst to developing agro-industry, including reviving the Pwalugu Tomato factory.
“Other hydro-electric projects, such as Akosombo and Bui, were intended also to have irrigation schemes, but they have, unfortunately, not materialised. The story of the Pwalugu Multipurpose Dam and Irrigation Project will be different,” he assured the people of the area.
With the cost of the project amounting to some US$993 million, President Akufo-Addo stated that the cost will be borne entirely by the government, and will be executed constructed under an engineering, procurement and construction contract by Sinohydro, and will be executed in 50 months.
“In all, two thousand, two hundred (2,200) Ghanaians, skilled and unskilled, will benefit fully from the project, with the contractor mandated also to source services such as catering, security, water, cement, steel, office logistics, and other supplies locally,” the President stated.