Previous Page Table of Contents Next Page



Irrigation Development Authority

Adjei LOMO
Department of Fisheries


Ghana has a potential of 500 000 ha irrigable land but only 10 000 ha are developed. Rice has been the principal crop grown on almost all government-financed irrigation schemes. However, high value exportable crops are now being preferred.

Fishery resources have supplied 60-70 percent of natural animal proteins in Ghana. There is a growing evidence that the fishery is being exploited beyond its sustainable limit. Therefore, the Government has started promoting aquaculture and culture-based fisheries. Integrated irrigation-aquaculture dates as far back as the 1950s when aquaculture was being developed or planned at dam sites or in irrigation schemes. Unfortunately, most of these facilities are not operational.anymore On-going research activities include rice-fish and fish-vegetable components. Collaboration has been established with international research and funding institutions.


Le Ghana a un potentiel de 500 000 ha de terres irrigables mais seulement 10 000 ha sont aménagés. Le riz a été la principale culture sur presque tous les périmètres irrigués aménagés par l'Etat. Cependant, les cultures ayant une plus grande valeur commerciale à l'exportation sont actuellement préférées.

Les resources en poisson contribuent pour 60 à 70 pour cent des protéines animales au Ghana. Il devient cependant de plus en plus évident que les pêcheries sont exploitées au delà de leur limite de durabilité. En conséquence, le Gouvernement a lancé la promotion de l'aquaculture et des pêches basées sur le repeuplement à travers le pays. L'intégration irrigation-aquaculture remonte aux années 50 lorsque l'aquaculture était systématiquement developpée ou projetée sur les sites de barrage ou de périmètres irrigués. Malheureusement, la majorité de ces infrastructures ne sont plus en état de fonctionnement. Les activités de recherche en cours portent sur l'intégration de la pisciculture avec la riziculture et le maraîchage. Une collaboration a été établie avec des institutions de financement et de recherche internationales.


Poor rainfall distribution and its erratic nature make the achievement of all-year cropping difficult. Supplementary irrigation therefore reduces the risks of crop failure. Furthermore, irrigation in the dry months between October and April allows all-year round cropping and increases productivity.

Ghana has a potential area of 500 000 ha for irrigation. Only 2 per cent of this potential or 10 000 ha has been developed so far. Types of irrigation practised are the gravity flow and the sprinkler systems. Gravity flow accounts for 80 per cent of all types of irrigation.

Rice has been the principal crop grown on almost all existing government-financed irrigation schemes. Unfortunately the cropping of irrigated rice under the prevailing micro-economic climate has proved to be non-competitive. It is clear that the only economic option left for the promotion of rice production is to crop this cereal on the flood plains, using simple engineering methods for effective water control, through the construction of structures such as bunds.

It has also been proven that the cropping of high value exportable vegetables, fruits, banana and cut flowers presents economic advantages on irrigation schemes compared to rice.

In addition to the low investment in irrigation, the drought of 1983 brought to the fore the need for the continuation, and where possible, the acceleration of irrigation development. At the same time, positive attempts will be made to meet the challenges posed by the efficient management of existing and new irrigation schemes. It is projected that the current total area of irrigation facilities will be increased from about 10 000 ha to 100 000 ha by the year 2020.

Since the 1960s, attempts by Government to introduce and promote irrigation through the settlement of a number of small-scale farmers on irrigation facilities constructed with public funds have been limited by the following constraints:

- high capital investment required for putting up any form of irrigation infrastructure;

- socio-cultural factors militating against the efficient management of existing government-funded irrigation schemes.

Strategies have been laid down for irrigation development in the future, as follows:

There is no irrigation research being conducted in Ghana.


Ghana is endowed with rich and diverse natural fishery resources, both marine and inland. These resources have supplied over 60-70 percent of the animal protein intake. This makes fish the single most important source of low cost animal proteins. However, there is an alarming rate of increased pressure on traditional capture fisheries. There is a growing evidence that the fishery is being exploited beyond its sustainable limit. A consequence of this has been that the 1970 average fish consumption has declined by 25 percent to reach 22 kg/caput/year in 1997. As human food demand has outgrown the natural regeneration capacity of the aquatic environment, Ghana has had to resort to importation. In 1998, about 17 000 tonnes was imported from concessions fishing in foreign waters.

Because of the nutritional advantages, the high demand for fish mostly in the Northern and Upper Regions of Ghana, and the need to supplement natural fisheries, the Government, as early as the 1950s, decided to promote aquaculture and culture-based fisheries in association with irrigation projects throughout the country. The strategic approach included:

- Small-scale pond farming was promoted in an attempt to integrate aquaculture into agriculture as a means of making economic use of on-farm agricultural by-products.

- Culture-based fisheries were promoted among communities living near irrigation dams and dug-outs as a means of improving livelihood opportunities where fishing was non-traditional.

- State-owned facilities were developed under the policy of converting 5 percent of the irrigated area of all irrigation schemes into pond farms.

A number of facilities and activities have emerged over the years to produce, distribute and market fish. Aquaculture has been integrated in most irrigation projects. Table 1 lists some of the operational facilities which have been used as experimental stations, as well as for fish breeding and the supply of fingerlings.

Table 1. Some operational irrigation and aquaculture facilities







Upper Region

Over 60 ha of ponds

5 km south of Navrongo

Major dam and irrigation scheme/ponds incomplete


Upper Region

25 acres of ponds

5 km west of Bolgatanga

Major dam ponds privatized


Sankana Upper West Region

6 - 1 acre ponds

15 km north of Wa

Small dam water supply. Ponds being rehabilitated


Pilot aquaculture centre - Kona-Tano Odumasi


40 km north west of Tamale

On-going- World Bank funded project



6 - 0.5 acre
1 - 1 acre
4 - 0.25 acre ponds

Ketu District south east of Volta Region near Aflao

Ponds privatized


KNUST-Fisheries experimental station

20 ponds of varying sizes

University of Science & Technology



Gbi-Godenu Volta Region IFAD/SCIMP Project

1 - ha
3 - 0.25 ha ponds

6 km south west of Hohoe



Ashaiman Fisheries Station

6 - 0.5 acre ponds
3 concrete ponds

North of Tema

Water supplied from small dam Experimental fish farm and fingerling production.


Dawhenya Fish Farm

4 - 1 acre ponds

West of Tema

Water supplied from irrigation dam. Rice project.


ARDEC Akosombo WRI/CSIR Eastern Region

20 ponds of varying sizes

80 km north east of Accra

Water supplied from Akosombo hydro-power dam

2.2 Aquaculture Extension

These broad objectives have only received a modest degree of implementation and success to date. The Fisheries Department has provided an important extension training (Fisheries Vocational Programme) for the local folks operating on reservoirs and rivers.

Culture-based fisheries has been promoted through the installation of a number of pond facilities scattered throughout the Northern and Upper East Regions.

2.3 Special Programme for Food Security and IIA

The Special Programme for Food Security (SPFS) was launched by FAO in September 1994. The National Programme for Ghana has been prepared and agreed upon.

The SPFS irrigation component should develop and demonstrate appropriate irrigation technologies which can be effectively sustained by small-scale farmers. The SPFS aquaculture component should be fully integrated with the irrigation component and as far as possible, with animal husbandry if present.

2.4 Constraints for IIA

Throughout the country, development of IIA has been limited by the following constraints:

- inadequate extension;

- lack of fish seed for farmers;

- inadequate formulated feed for fish;

- lack of capital for expansion of fish farms;

- lack of biotechnical information for farmers;

- need for high investment capital for irrigation development;

- socio-cultural factors militating operation of IIA projects.

2.5 Research on IIA

Two main areas have been identified for research on IIA to be conducted at the following sites:

- for rice and fish culture, at Tono, Vea and Dawhenya irrigation schemes (Table 1);

- for vegetable and fish culture at the Institute of Renewable Natural Resources, WRI and in the Mampong Valley.

2.6 Collaboration

Institutional collaboration will be initiated and reinforced between the Water Research Institute and the following institutions: the Institute of Renewable Natural Resources, the Fisheries Department, the Crop Research Institute, the University of Development Studies, the Irrigation Development Authority, and various NGOs.

The Water Research Institute has already external collaboration links with ICLARM, GTZ, the World Bank and FAO.

Previous Page Top of Page Next Page