“My grandfather used to say that once in your life you need a doctor, a lawyer, a policeman, and a preacher. But every day three times a day, you need a farmer.” This statement made by Brenda Schoepp underscores the importance of agriculture in our everyday lives.
In Ghana, agriculture contributes to about 54 percent of the total GDP and about 52 percent of the labour force is engaged in agriculture. This is good. However, many farmers heavily depend on external factors like rainfall to grow their crops to ensure a good yield. Green Views Residential brings to you the story and outlook of the Dawhenya Irrigation Scheme which has West Africa’s Largest Greenhouse.
The Dawhenya Irrigation Scheme is located in Dawhenya in the Ningo Prampram District of the Greater Accra Region. One would have to use the Accra-Aflao road and veer northwards when he gets to the Dawhenya Total Service Station. The Scheme covers an area of about 980 hectares and is bounded to the North by the Afienya Township, to the West by the Dawhenya Township, to the south by some parts of the Dawhenya Township and leads to the Central University. There is the River Dechidaw which has been dammed and this feeds water into a solar powered electrical pumping station which is subsequently delivered through canals using gravity.
A company fully owned and controlled by government called the State Farms Corporation which was established by Ghana’s first President, Kwame Nkrumah who saw no way of rapidly mechanizing agriculture except through the creation of State Farms and State Factories as a solution to rapid economic growth. In 1959, State Farms Corporation decided that there was a need for vegetable production for the Tema-Accra Metropolitan area. Construction works in the property started in 1975 and ended in 1978 during Ignatious Kutu Acheampong’s reign as head of State in the same period. In 1977, the State compulsorily acquired the land through an Executive Instrument (E.I.) E.I. 132 of 1977 and has since remained a State land.
In a pursuit to provide strategic value and also to keep it in operation, The Dawhenya Irrigation Scheme has gone through a number of partnership and interventions which has succeeded in introducing some projects that have gone ahead to provide value to the Scheme. Key amongst them has been the South Korean government who has very instrumental in providing funds and the through the KOICA (Korean International Development Agency) who has done some rehabilitation. Other private Organizations like Ghana Flowers Greens and the Quan Company limited have worked very hard to increase the value of the site by investing strategically just like Green Views Apartments does.
Recently, the government of Ghana whiles embarking on its National Entrepreneurship and Innovation Programme (NEIP) Green House Estate Project, instituted West Africa’s biggest greenhouse project at the Dawhenya Irrigation Scheme. The project is aimed at the installation of a 1000 greenhouses and an entrepreneurship and innovation center for the training of human resources. 75 greenhouses have been completed and commissioned and are estimated to have the capacity to produce 4,500 tonnes of vegetables valued at $1.9 million annually.
Greenhouses have many benefits they bring to farmers as they put conditions needed for effective crop cultivation in the complete control of the farmer. In effect, environmental factors like temperature, humidity, availability of water, light, availability of nutrients and others are now controlled by the farmer. So the farmer’s dependence on environmental factors for crop yield is reduced to its minimum and virtually any kind of crop can be harvested at any time of the year maximizing productivity. In addition, the prices of foodstuff remains stable since the factors that control plant yield are controlled. This is obviously the step in the right direction.
The Dawhenya Irrigation Scheme is primarily known for rice production which is the one of the main reasons why the Irrigation scheme was instituted. Rice farms cover a very large area and the irrigation tunnels can be observed as well as farmers busily working on the crops. Just like all rice farms, there are scarecrows at vantage points to scare birds who come to eat the rice and sometimes the farmers have to make loud noises to drive the birds away. Although these birds are pests to the farmers, nature enthusiasts go to the property to watch, admire and identify these birds. There is also a combine harvester which is used to harvest, thresh and bag the rice on the field. Food produce from the Dawhenya Irrigation Scheme ends up on the shelves of some popular markets like Shoprite in the Accra, Kumasi, Achimota and West Hill Malls; as well as Eden Tree among other places.
That is not all, it is noteworthy that the facility houses a very alluring ostrich farm which is bounded by trees and a little hard to find. The ostrich farm has a number of both male and female ostriches that are fenced. The ostriches raised are often killed and sold to the general public. Not only is the meat sold but the eggs, skin and feathers are also in demand. People also come to get the empty egg shells for their own purposes. Visitors to the farm are allowed to feed the ostriches with foliage from neighbouring trees upon request and this is a great experience for people who do not see ostriches often or who have never seen ostriches before. There is a great potential for possible future collaborations to increase the value of the Dawhenya Irrigation Scheme and investors can invest in it for good returns. People who want to visit the farms and watch the farmers work as well as visit the ostrich farm will have to notify the administration.