The minister of Food and Agriculture, Mr Ernest A. Debrah, has cut the sod to mark the start of work on the rehabilitation of the Tono Irrigation Scheme in the Kassena-Nankana District in the Upper East Region.
The rehabilitation works, which have been on the drawing board for decades, would cost GH¢7.90 million. It would include regrading and gravelling of the main access road, re-gravelling of the dam wall and erosion control of the dam slopes and replacement of lost linings of concrete on the main and lateral canals.
There would be a construction of washing bays, culverts and water control gates and removing of silt from the main drain.
Six construction firms have been engaged to execute the project scheduled for completion in December.
The construction of the Tono Irrigation Dam started in 1975 and was completed in 1979 covering a total of 2,440 hectares of irrigable area. However, no major maintenance has been carried out on the facilities. This has led to a reduction in the original 2,440 hectares of irrigated land to the present 1,800 hectares.
The ceremony was witnessed by a cross-section of people, including traditional rulers. Also present was the Minister of Energy and MP for Navrongo Central, Mr Joseph Kofi Adda.
Mr Debrah expressed the hope that when the project was completed it would lead to improvement in the economic well-being of the people of Navrongo and its environs and Ghana at large.
He noted that the physical, economic and social sustainability of the scheme after the rehabilitation would depend on the collective effort of the farmers, the Irrigation Company of the Upper Regions (ICOUR), the management and the wider community who were beneficiaries of the scheme.
Mr Debrah entreated the contractors who would work on the project to live up to expectation by ensuring quality output and delivering within the scheduled time.
The minister said the government in its bid to improve the rice sector, intended to assist farmers in the vast rice valleys of Fumbisi with inputs and land preparation to cultivate a total of 1,000 hectares land of rice for a start.
The Upper East Regional Minister, Mr Alhassan Samari, in a speech read on his behalf by his deputy, Mrs Agnes Asangalisah Chigabatia, said the project was a demonstration of the government s commitment to the accelerated development of the area.
"The project when completed will not only increase food production in the region but will also give more jobs to people and thereby put more money in the pockets of our farmers", he said.
The minister called for public support towards the successful completion of the project to serve its intended purpose.
The Managing Director of ICOUR, Mr Issa Bukari, conveyed ICOUR'S appreciation to the government for funding the project, and added that the project, when completed, would enhance the efficiency of water management to increase productivity.
The National President of the Farmers and Fisherman Award Winners Association of Ghana, Mr Philip Abayori, while commending the government for rehabilitating the dam appealed for the refurbishment of the rice mills to boost rice production in the area.