When the A-LEAP programme was initiated in Ghana in early 2017, IWAD found synergy between the programme’s objectives and IWAD’s planned work placement initiative for the youth.
The A-LEAP programme aims to provide opportunities for African youth aged 18-35 to gain practical experience and knowledge in the agricultural sector. The broad goal is to support skills transfer and technological know-how that will help African agribusinesses and organizations to innovate, improve their commercial viability and catalyze agricultural transformation, thus contributing to improved food security.
The program objectives are to:
enhance the professional development of youth interested in agribusiness and
agricultural development through training and on-the-job-learning.
improve the viability and performance of host organizations and;
strengthen tertiary institutions’ promotion of careers in agribusiness and agricultural
IWAD agreed to host five interns who will carry out specific tasks to support different areas of the company’s operations: seed production monitoring, accounting, set up of a Community Information Centre, Irrigation technical support and development of a strategy for commercialization of new seed products.
The interns are being sponsored under a cost-share arrangement with Africa Lead and started their internship in July 2017. Africa Lead also provided coaching and an orientation training for interns to prepare them to enter the workforce with professionalism. The internship period will be 3months with the possibility of a full time job placement for exceptional performance.
Three demonstration farms have been established with small solar applications at three different locations close to water source, one at Kpasenkpe, another one at Yagaba and the IWAD nucleus farm estate. Over 50 farmers have so far participated in the demonstration farm training on how to use small solar applications for the cultivation of vegetables and other crops in the dry season. Various crops such as pepper, onions, groundnuts, maize, cowpeas, okro and water melon were planted at the three demo locations and crops are at different stages. Onions, pepper, groundnuts and okro are at harvesting stage.
PICA is collaborating with the Yagaba senior technical High school to use one of the demo farms as a school farm to practically train their Agric students and interested teachers on the use of solar for irrigation farming.
Processes for the construction of the major 0.8MW solar infrastructure for the nucleus estate will start very soon as the contracting process is advanced with a very reputable company.
The project has entered into partnership with the Yagaba district assembly to provide solar power for the operations of the Community Information Center (CIC) which has never functioned since its inception. Renovations to the center is completed, manager of the ICT hired, various stakeholders of the CIC have been sensitized on the purpose of the CIC and operations will start in few weeks’ time.
The unit has made efforts to engage the youth of Yagaba over the period to discuss issues pertaining the community and also give room for more education on projects concepts. The unit by way of doing this bridges the gap between the community and IWAD therefore building good relationships with them.
On the 23rd August 2017, the deputy Dutch Ambassador to Ghana Mrs. Caecilia Wijgers made a visit to the project site in Yagaba to see how the project is doing since its inception.
She made time to interact with the chief and elders of Yagaba, a familiarization tour to the farm lands and offices as well as an interaction with some staff of IWAD. Caecilia was generally impressed by what she saw and encouraged the good work to continue.
On Saturday, the 22nd of April, 2017, IWAD led by the Operations Manager received an entourage from the Government of Ghana at the project site in Yagaba. The entourage included the Northern Regional Minister, Hon. Salifu Saeed; Minister of State in-charge of Special Development Initiatives, Hon. Hawa Koomson and other dignitaries. The Operations Manager, Small holder Irrigation, Monitoring & Evaluation and Customary Land Liaison Officers as well as Community Education, Gender and Advocacy Officer walked the team through the site and explained IWAD’s operations to them.
Also, IWAD was fortunate to receive Mr. Soeters Sebastian, to conduct a research geared towards fostering farmer-fulani livelihood synergies. Mr. Sebastian works for the University of Utrecht in Holland and was invited by the Managing Director (MD) of IWAD, Mr. Tom Durang to carry out the research.
The objectives of Sebastian’s visit included, identifying IWAD infrastructure and natural resource creation and use including geo-tagging; identifying changes in livelihoods and customary practices in communities; identifying and documenting changing perceptions of land users (farmers, Fulani’s, etc.) and local authorities in resolving/exacerbating conflict.
On Tuesday November 14, 2017, a team from the African Development Bank (AfDB ) together with SADA and some government officials led by the Deputy Minister of Agriculture ( Dr. Sagre Bambangi) visited IWAD project site in Yagaba. 30 people participated comprising 16 senior members and others including the media and security personnel. The team was on an Agricultural Development Investment road show in northern Ghana and wanted to see the IWAD flagship project in Yagaba.
A reconnaissance soil survey led by a local consultant in the person of Dr. Ganiyu Shaibu from the University for Development Studies (UDS) and a sugarcane expert in the person of Mr. Jerome Havel from Terra Mauritius was carried out in Kpasenkpe and its contiguous communities. The survey is geared towards phase II of the SK Project in the Mamprugu Moaduri district. It was carried out in four (4) days from 7th – 10th October, 2017. Four (4) communities have been earmarked for survey of their lands. These include: Kpasenkpe, Bulbia, Yama & Mishio.
Subsequent to community entry and soil reconnaissance survey in the earmarked communities for a proposed upscale of the Sisili-Kulpawn Irrigation Project, a learning visit by the communities to the current project site in Yagaba was organized by IWAD. The trip came off on Friday, 03/11/17 and involved all the communities in the proposed study area. The communities that participated were Kpasenkpe, Dibsi, Yama, Zua, Mishio and Wungu with a total of twenty one (21) persons including chiefs. The purpose of the trip principally was to educate the communities on the IWAD project in the Mamprugu Moaduri district and boost their interest for a proposed upscale project in their areas.
For many countries in Africa, irrigation is touted as the answer to achieving the transformation of local agriculture from a subsistent necessity to a commercial enterprise for the serious farmer.Irrigation for many is seen as the panacea to reducing the significant risk in agricultural investments that is tied to inconsistent rainfall patterns. However if we look around northern Ghana especially, where a lot of public investments have been made in irrigation, many have failed to achieve the dreams of year round cropping to bring profits and improved economic livelihood to farmers. This has been partly due to mismanagement and underestimation of the maintenance and drainage cost of irrigation.
Irrigation using pumps, as is the case in Yagaba, is driven by energy, which has extremely high costs. Consider that when our nucleus farm in Yagaba was initiated in 2013, there was still no connection to the national grid, so we ran our irrigation equipment on diesel fuel generators. In Ghana, fuel costs have been rising consistently over the last 3-4years although world prices have significantly reduced.
For IWAD, the cost of energy for I millimetre/hectare of water pumped is about 0.35 USD$/ kWh. At these costs, a farmer cannot be competitive with his counterpart in other African countries. Most local irrigation schemes only charge a notional cost (in Ghana averages 120ghc/hectare) that is far below the real cost of water delivery. More often farmers are charged nothing, on the assumption that if they make a profit, then they can finance irrigation costs.
In January 2016, The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and I WAD Ghana Limited, the private agricultural and irrigation development company, signed a Cooperative Agreement under which the two organisations will co-fund the Power Innovations in Commercial Agriculture (PICA) project. The goal of PICA is to enhance net incomes of the irrigated nucleus farm and 300 out-growers in the Sisili-Kulpawn basin through the provision of efficient alternative power systems.
Three specific objectives will be pursued to achieve this goal:
• Build infrastructure for a solar hybrid power generation system.
• Secure the provision of low cost power for irrigated farming.
• Improve productivity of smallholder out growers through application of smaller solar irrigation initiatives.
It is expected that with the generation of about 0.8MW of solar energy both IWAD’s nucleus estate and its smallholder outgrowers will have access to clean energy that significantly improves their net incomes through power cost savings up to 50%. The transfer of knowledge on modern irrigation and renewable energy is expected to enhance efficiency in energy and water use for commercial agriculture among local farmers.
The project location is Yagaba, in the Mamprugu-Moaduri district of the Northern Region of Ghana