Improving farmers’ incomes, ensuring food security and balancing the trade balance are among the reasons motivating Togo’s government to enlarge irrigated areas in the country. But out of 186,000 hectares easily irrigable in the country, only 6,190 are actually irrigated, accounting for just 3 per cent.
Togo already has substantial experience in water control, especially on rice perimeters, throughout various ongoing projects across the country. These include the Project for the development and rehabilitation of agricultural land in the Mission-Tove area (Partam) on 609ha; the Lower Mono River Valley Project (Pbvm) on 489ha; and sugar perimeters of Sino-Togolese company (Sinto) on 1200ha.
Despite these experiences, water control initiatives face several challenges in the country. “Up to now, the large developed perimeters have been made in the social framework. Everything comes from the State. Problems in terms of management and maintenance are often observed. In addition, people do not fully benefit from the irrigated areas,” regretted Salifou Daoudou, Director for Agricultural Statistics, IT and Documentation (DSID) at Togo’s Ministry of Agriculture.
To address these challenges, Togo’s government has decided to change its approach by transferring the management of the large irrigated areas to the private sector in the framework of a win-win partnership. “We worked on a system for better development of the sites. It will be a partnership between the State, the private sector and producers through a project company,” explained Mr. Salifou during a webinar on 5 May.
In this society of projects, he underlines that the State has already mobilized part of the resources to make part of the improvements. “The private sector will come to organize producers, offer services to producers and help them improve their production through adequate commitment. It is this dynamic that will govern large areas in the future,” he said.
As an example, Mr. Salifou mentioned the ongoing discussions to let a private company already operating on the ground which is in partnership with another agro-industrial group specialized in rice processing to take control of the Agome-Glozou site (500ha). “Other operators are already positioning themselves to follow the same pattern in the Djagble plain, where the work is almost finished,” he said.
Togolese small producers don’t have the resources to really develop the irrigated areas, so it is urgent to come up with solutions adapted to their purchasing power. At the time, particular emphasis is placed on the development of precision irrigation and multidimensional drip irrigation (kits for 0.25ha, 500m², 5ha, 10ha, etc.).
The State has set itself the objective of making available to producers (market gardeners), 40,000 irrigation kits with solar pumping system and the use of ICT as a means of payment.
“It is a system in progress with the CIZO rural electrification project. To obtain these kits, the farmer pays at his own pace. An agreement had already been signed with EDF France for the deployment of 3000 kits based on solar pumping system,” recalls Salifou Daoudou.
Initiatives or ideas are not lacking in Togo; it is rather about implementing them. Not an easy job, but one that must take place.