For Ghana’s vision of an all-year round agriculture production to take root, solar irrigation is the way to go, an expert has said.
Gideon Plange, Technical Advisor on Solar systems to Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit GmbH ( GIZ), says investment into solar is more sustainable than other forms of irrigation systems for a tropical country like Ghana.
With assistance from the Ghana Irrigation Development Authority (GIDA), some Ghanaian peasant farmers have ventured into irrigation but the cost of electricity from the national grid and the high cost of diesel has plunged many into debts.
“With the increasing cost of electricity tariffs, farmers are finding it difficult to pay their monthly bills so solar irrigation is a much more sustainable technology, because once you are able to purchase the system, you are not going to pay electricity bill all year round,” Plange told Xinhua on Wednesday.
He spoke to Xinhua during the ongoing Fourth Renewable Energy Conference and Exhibitions being held at the Accra International Conference Center.
Solar irrigation systems are the preferred alternative, compared to grid electricity or diesel pump because of its low maintenance and operation cost, stressed the expert.
“You are not going to buy parts for the pump; more so, you are able to do your personal operation and maintenance instead of relying on experts to operate and maintain the system for you,” he pointed out.
Due to the high initial cost, Plange recommended that companies wishing to promote solar pumps to local farmers could adopt the GIZ model where under the Energizing Development program, the development institution provides grants to farmers.
“We were paying between 30 percent and 40 percent of the cost of the solar irrigation systems for the farmer,” Plange disclosed.
Secondly, he added: “ We are able to talk to financial institutions to give credits options so that they can pay in tranches and also they can pay when they harvest.”
The institution also collaborates with Peg Ghana which distributes solar systems in seven out of the 10 administrative regions of the West African country to make the price affordable and the terms flexible for farmers.
Responses, he noted, had been overwhelming so far as farmers who were able to install even Two Kilovolts (2 KVA) solar pumps with capacity to irrigate 30 acres had been bringing on board in-growers whom they trained and supported with lands where these machines irrigated for higher yields all year round.
Government of Ghana has for some years been trying to introduce all-year-round farming, especially for fruit and vegetable farmers where many youth have been venturing into for sustainable livelihoods. Enditem