At the dawn of the 21st Century, the goal of achieving poverty reduction became a global concern. Diverse livelihood public interventions such as the provision of community dams since then have been implemented in rural settings including Nadowli-Kaleo District of the Upper West Region, Ghana to promote food security through dry-season farming. However, the objectives of these interventions have not been realized. Rather, rural farmers engaged in irrigation farming have resorted to the initiation and utilization of private water systems prompting the examination of factors accounting for the choice of irrigation operations. A case research design was adapted in the conduct of the investigation. Five communities were selected as cases based on a set of criteria namely, the presence of an open-access dam and on-going private irrigation schemes. Factors accruing to the preference for private water systems to that of open-access community dams for irrigation included contamination of dam water by other users such as funeral undertakers, water vendors and fishermen, as well as drying up of dam water. Although irrigation engagement tremendously benefits irrigation operators and consumers through provision of fresh vegetables for household consumptions and income generation, irrigation operations are however saddled with the destruction of irrigation crops by animals, financial inadequacies and limited knowledge of farmers in irrigation agronomy. Measures proposed to propel the productive capacity of rural irrigation farmers comprise: creation of irrigation fund for farmers, entrepreneurship training in basic agronomic techniques in irrigation farming, giving awards to irrigation farmers on Farmers’ Day Celebrations, establishment of block irrigation systems, and proper management of existing community dams.
Key words: Agriculture, rural irrigation, private initiatives, sustainable livelihoods, irrigation systems.
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