Promoting smallholder irrigation for food Security –A review
Ghana is characterized by six agroecological zones all of which provides various agricultural resources towards the country’s bid to becoming food secured. However, the predominantely drier savannah zones are usually affected by periodic droughts and food insecurity. The government’s intervention in reducing the impact of drought on agriculture and thus, food security, has always been to develop large scale irrigation schemes in these regions to support agricultural production. Though such large schemes have been seen as an option to improve and sustain rural livelihoods by increasing crop productivity and production, its sustainability has always been debatable. The development implications and usefulness of theses schemes have also been a topic for debate among development practioners and a wide range of researchers and academicians. The cost of implementing irrigation projects and its payback time depends on several factors such as the size, type of irrigation system and its associated technology, its operation and maintenance. Some advocates such as the FAO is encouraging smallholder irrigation which is irrigation practised by individual farmers or smallholders, usually farming on a small scale (a few acres or hectares) under their own responsibility; usually at low-cost with little or no government support and using technology they could understand and manage easily themselves. This paper discusses some of the advantages to be accrued if smallhoder irrigation is adopted as a development option in improving agricultural production to enhance food security in the country. Discussions in this paper also focuses on some of the irrigation and water management technologies that is more appropriately suited to smallholder irrigation practices. The options and concepts discussed here, if adopted have the aptitude to ease dependency on rainfed farming, reduce redundancy during the dry season and decrease crop losses during flash droughts in the rainy season to ensure all year-round harvest with improved yields, income and livelihoods.