Held at the Ministry of Finance, the ceremony saw the exchange of signatures between the Minister of Finance, Honorable Ken Ofori-Atta, and the AFD Country Director, Christophe Cottet. The agreement was co-signed by the European Commissioner for International Partnerships, Jutta Urpilainen, and the French Ambassador to Ghana, H.E. Anne-Sophie Avé. The Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Owusu friyie Akoto, and the EU Ambassador to Ghana, H.E. Irchad Razaaly, were also present.
Through the Agriculture Water Management Project (AWMP), the signatories have agreed to join forces to support irrigation in Northern Ghana, where 85% of the population makes a living from agriculture. The construction of irrigation systems is essential to increase yields in the targeted regions of Upper West, Savannah and North East Regions. It will provide an additional and reliable source of income for more than 6000 smallholder farmers, who currently rely on unpredictable rain-fed agriculture and are increasingly exposed to extreme climatic events such as droughts and floods.
The European Union (€39,7 million) and French (€5 million) grants, will be managed by AFD with the MoFA and GIDA as implementing partners. It will finance the rehabilitation and construction of 15 dams, 11 boreholes and 9 pumping stations on the Black Volta River, and their associated 1300 hectares of irrigated perimeters. The project will accompany farmers to move from rain-fed to irrigated agriculture, support the Water Users Associations to run the irrigation scheme, and build GIDA’s capacity to supervise these schemes.
AWMP forms part of the European Union partnership with the Ministry of Food and Agriculture to support agriculture in northern Ghana with EUR 132 million (EU-Ghana Agriculture Programme–EUGAP). The programme’s main objectives are to improve the quality of life of communities who derive most of their income from agriculture and to develop agriculture as a sustainable business.
Ms Jutta Urpilainen, European Commissioner for International Partnerships, recalled the EU commitment to support agriculture in Ghana, an essential sector for the country’s economic development: “The project we are signing today will support smallholder farmers to make their yields more predictable and increase their income. It is an ambitious and important investment, which will boost the socio-economic development of regions in northern Ghana, essential for the development and stability of the country”.
In the words of H.E. Anne Sophie Avé, Ambassador of France to Ghana, "investing in Agriculture is investing in the future. Whatever the technologies, however drastically the world may change, human will always need food. Planting for food and jobs, indeed, but also planting for peace and security and planting for sustainability : this project will enable better jobs and revenues, environment friendly agriculture, all year round production, and ensure food provision for all."
Ken Ofori-Atta, Minister for Finance said: “The Agricultural Water Management Project (AWMP) is consistent with the Government of Ghana’s priorities, as it addresses the key issues faced by smallholder farmers and farming systems in the northern regions of Ghana. It will be a major boost for our Planting-For-Food and Jobs Programme by increasing productivity, addressing food insecurity issues, improving income of farmers, and promoting poverty eradication.”