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Vegetable farmers in North East Region seek irrigation systems to boost production

The farmers say the provision of good irrigation systems in the North East Region would help boost crop production

Some vegetable farmers in the North East Region are appealing to the government to assist with some irrigation system as they seek to improve and boost crop production.

Currently, vegetable farmers at Kparigu in the North-East region are turning to an improvised irrigation system to ensure sufficient water for their crops.

Some of the farmers say they are beginning to reap good returns from the system, despite the changing climate.

They say their income levels have increased though they are still facing challenges.

For instance, the farmers in the West Mamprusi Municipality of the North East Region are resorting to the improvised irrigation system for the survival of their vegetables in the dry season.

The farmers usually plant maize in the normal farming season and then grow onions, tomatoes, okra, carrots, pepper, garden eggs, cabbage and other vegetables in the dry season.

They have to drench in dust and sweat before their vegetables can survive and look good for consumers in the market.

Haruna Alhassan Adams, a graduate from the Tamale Technical University recounts on his previous bumper harvest and the challenges he is facing on his onion farmer.

Adam Alhassan says he has been working on the farm for four years now as a graduate and how he is watering the vegetables with the gallons for the past four years is his problem.

He grows onions on a half-acre farm in Kparigu, East of Walewale in the West Mamprusi district.

He hopes to start harvesting the 20,000 plants soon to make good money. A cursory observation of the crops shows they are doing well. The farmer does not irrigate them using the popular irrigation system.

Adam Alhassan has also improvised his own watering can system with the use of jerry can, popularly known as ‘Kufour gallon’. He creates holes on them for easy watering.

The system has not only helped him to avoid the high cost associated with drip irrigation systems but also enabled him to grow food despite the erratic weather condition and fatigue.

“I have been farming for four years now and how to water the onions is our problem. Some of us don’t have machines to water them so we decided to get a can like this. We cut the mouth of the can so that we then use a pin, put it in fire and create the holes,” he said.

The small holes made on the gallons release water slowly into the soil, penetrating to the roots of the plant to enable it to flourish.

“It is too difficult because when you water the crops and go home, you experience general body pains,” he added

Alhassan Adams  said some of his colleagues use drugs like quick action and energy drinks to aid them to work.

“Because if you are not careful and after watering the crops, you can’t sleep at night. You’ll be tired then so we use quick action and energy drinks before we then come to water.”

Alhassan Adams  who holds a diploma in Accounting and others here have separate mini-farm dugouts close to their farms for watering purposes.

Although it is a daunting task, he says it’s worth it.

“After the dry season farming, I make not less than GHC2, 000. Some will even get more than that because they use water pumping machines to water their vegetables,” he said.

But because Alhassan Adams  and others rely on their physical energy, they are unable to reap more than their colleagues.

“Definitely, I can’t compare myself to those using water pumping machines.”

It does not cost them much to get it done. All they need is the jerry can and some time to create the holes.

Watara Zaara is also using the improvised irrigation system to grow onions in the dry season.

Sometimes, Zaara can harvests between seven and eight bags of onions at the end of the planting season.

“Last year, I harvested eight bags. We sold one bag at GHC120. If you are lucky, you could get more profit.”

According to the farmers, they are encouraged to use things that are readily available in their environment to produce food sustainably.

Rising temperature, declining rainfall and stormy weather are some of the climate factors that account for the reduction in the water resource base in most parts of northern Ghana.

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