Vegetable farmers in Kulungungu hit by acute water shortage.
Business News, ghanaweb.com, 18 February 2016, Ghana
Vegetable farmers at Kulungungu in the Pusiga District of the Upper East Region face the risk of losing their crops to harsh weather conditions. They are unable to irrigate their farms because for the first time in more than 20 years, a stretch of the White Volta which runs through the area has completely dried up. For months, the farmers have had to device various means of finding water to keep their crops green. The situation is likely to push these poor farmers out of the vegetable production business.
A major source of income for residents at Kulungungu is vegetable crop cultivation. Many of the locals have depended entirely on the activity to cater for their families. Unfavourable external factors and the severe harm compel the farmers to no choice but to attend to their crops every morning to ensure they survive.
The White Volta river is the only source of water for them during the dry season. Regrettably, the river has dried up; given them no hope of survival. A few of the farmers who have the capacity have had to dig deep into the ground in order to have access to water. Even then, they would have to protect such sources from being invaded by cattle and other animals.
Luckman Seidu, one of the farmers who have been busily digging a trench with the hope of getting water for the vegetable farms. “This is only way we can get find water. As you can see, we are digging deeper into the ground to trace some water other than that our vegetables will wilt”. Luckman stated.
The farmers say they are going through such unpleasant experience for the first time. “We started working here for about 25 years now. But access to water is a challenge, especially, this season. Marketing our produce coupled with lack of inputs is killing our desire to farm’’, a frustrated farmer complained.
According to the United Nations, water use has grown at more than twice the rate of population increase in the last century. By 2025, an estimated 1.8 billion people will live in areas plagued by water scarcity, with two-thirds of the world’s population living in water-stressed regions as a result of use, growth, and climate change. Concerns have been raised on how the world can effectively conserve, manage, and distribute water to prevent water crisis.
The shortage will have a particularly devastating effect on the rural poor people in Kulungungu who depend on more vulnerable water sources, and earn much of their income from water-dependent agriculture. As groundwater levels fall, many smaller farms are unprofitable with their agriculture business. This is the main cause of their worry.
The current water shortage in some countries across the globe is attributed to the effect of climate change which increases water demand for agriculture, primarily for irrigation, due to prolonged dry periods and severe drought. Some research estimates an over 40 percent increase in land needing irrigation by 2080. Officials at the Centre for Scientific and Industrial Research’s Savannah Zone recommend irrigation facilities in Kulungungu.
“I want to advocate for small irrigation facilities for the farmers,” Director at the Savannah zone, Dr. Stephen Kwasi Nutsugah has indicated. This wills probably relief the vegetable farmers for a period as they wait for the rains. While urging assemblies to enforce bye-laws on bush burning, Dr. Nutsugah cautions farmers to desist from activities that destroy water bodies. He says: setting fires on crop residue is not good enough. If burning is curbing, the little moisture in the soil can be conserved.
In the face of warming temperatures caused by climate change, some of the world’s largest lakes, rivers and other water bodies are virtually shrinking. According to researchers from the US-based National Centre for Atmospheric Research, rivers are losing water due to increased construction of dams.
In many cases, the drop in water levels and flow, caused by climate change, alter rainfall patterns amid high evaporation due to mounting temperature. The situation at Kulungungu is partly attributed to inadequate rainfall in 2015, the current strong and dry winds and continuous reliance on the river for water. Officials at the meteorological agency in Ghana are also predicting bad weather this year which may go a long way to affect crop cultivation.