The managing body of the Vea Irrigation Dam, the Irrigation Company of Upper Region (ICOUR), has refuted claims that it is selling water to communities not captured as part of designated communities under the project.
The Vea Irrigation Dam Project is one of the two irrigation projects under the management of the Irrigation Company of Upper Region (ICOUR). The project is situated at Vea in the Bongo District of the Upper East Region.
Construction of the Vea project was started in 1965 and completed in 1980. While the project has a potential irrigable area of 1197 hectares, the area actually developed for irrigation is about 850 hectares.
The project was supposed to serve 9 communities; Vea, Gowrie, Bongo Nyariga, Bolga Nyariga, Dindubisi, Zaare, Balungu, Yikine and Sumbrungu. Currently, the project serves only 5 of the aforementioned 9 communities.
The farmers who had spoken to A1 Radio in an earlier interview alleged that ICOUR has begun selling water to Sirigu, a community not captured under the project, at the expense of other communities captured under the project. The farmers also bemoaned the dilapidated nature of the canals making it difficult for them to get water for their crops.
But the Technical Officer in Charge of Extension Services at the Vea Irrigation Dam project, Augustine Zooga denied the allegations when he spoke on A1 Radio’s ‘Agric Forum’.
He explained that what ICOUR charges is a services fee for water used. “It is not true that we sell water to farmers. What they pay for is a water user fee which is Ghc 70 per acre,” he said.
He continued to say that “the communities are saying we sell the water to Sirigu but Sirigu is not part of the original arrangement. What happens is that, because the dam’s canals are broken when laterals are opened the water leaks into the river and flow to those areas but we are working to fix the situation. We don’t sell water to Sirigu and far communities”.
He added that “water does not reach most of the communities because the canals of the dam are broken. Since the construction of the dam in 1980, there has not been any major rehabilitation work at the project. The dam is supposed to supply water to 9 communities but as it stands now only 4 communities get access to the water”.
Meanwhile, some of the dry season farmers at Vea have expressed worry about the continuous rise in the prices of fuel at the pumps. The situation, the farmers say, is having a huge toll on their business activities.
According to the farmers, while the Vea Irrigation Dam is supposed to supply water to their gardens, the many challenges facing the dam prevent the direct flow of water from the dams to their portions of land. Due to these challenges, farmers have had to invest resources into procuring water-pumping machines and pipes to be able to pump water from the canals into the laterals that flow directly onto their lands.
The farmers also expressed grave concerns over the lack of a ready market for their produce.
Speaking to A1 Radio at Vea, the farmers explained that due to the perishable nature of the vegetables they produce and the unavailability of cold storage facilities, they lose their harvests when they are unable to sell them off quickly. Their continuous losses, they explained, prevents them from investing more resources into expanding their businesses.
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