Smallholder vegetable farmers in three of the northern regions have agreed to adopt the solar-powered irrigation system in their quest to ensure all-year-round vegetable production in their areas.
These farmers grow their crops in the Upper West, Savannah and North-East regions.
They agreed to use the solar-powered irrigation system at a workshop for vegetable producers organized by the Market Oriented Agriculture Programme in North-West Ghana (MOAP- NW) to share ideas on how to promote excellent agronomic practices in the area.
The program also served to promote solar solutions to the farmers as a replacement for their petroleum-fueled generators, which have proven to be costly.
The collaborating partners in the drive to move the farmers to solar irrigation are the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) and Pumptech, an irrigation equipment distribution company.
Most vegetable farmers had previously relied on petroleum-powered irrigation systems, which proved too costly to operate and did not allow them to engage in year-round vegetable production due to the fact that they only have one rainy season.
The MOAP-NW program, which is being conducted by GIZ with money from the European Union and the German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development, has chosen to subsidize solar technology costs by 50% for women and 40% for men.
The programme, which is being implemented in partnership with the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, is aimed at increasing the productivity of smallholder farmers in vegetables, to enhance their livelihoods and generate economic opportunities and growth.
The collaboration for solar irrigation equipment was struck among IWMI, Pumptech and MOAP-NW in 2021, to boost the demand and supply linkages to catalyse the scaling of irrigation technologies and services, especially solar power-based irrigation technology.
The supply and access to irrigation equipment are being spearheaded by IWMI and Pumptech, which have undertaken research work on how the beneficiaries can obtain information and harness the available water bodies, including wells and rivers for all year vegetable farming.
Desire Naab, an IWMI Research Technician, spoke about the importance of irrigation water to crops and noted that they had been working on scaling up irrigation technologies and water management solutions in the northern region of the country since 2013.
These methods and techniques, he claimed, had been proven to boost agricultural yield in irrigated areas.
As a result of this, he said IWMI was partnering with Pumptech, an irrigation equipment distribution company, to introduce best agricultural practices to smallholder farmers to enhance their activities.
He said through the partnership, with Pumptech and MOAP-NW, IWMI decided to pilot the solar power-based irrigation equipment in the Upper West Region.
Moses Tampoe, a Pumptech executive, expressed his delight that the farmers had chosen to embrace solar-powered pump technology, which, despite the high initial investment, had a longer life lifetime and was less expensive to maintain because the sun was readily available.
Mr Tampoe stated that they would revitalize the agricultural sector in order to strengthen the economy and that they would ensure the installation and maintenance of solar devices, as well as building farmers’ capacity to use them.
Regina Misah, a female vegetable farmer, emphasized the delight of the smallholder farmers at the prospect of improving their livelihood through the project.