Climate Change: Drought Hits Ghana’s Second Farming Season.

Agriculture, for long, has been known as the back-bone of Ghana’s economy with about 70% of the Ghanaian population depending directly or indirectly on agriculture (fisheries,  crop  and  animal  farming  etc.) and forest sector for both timber and non-timber forest products. Despite, this clear dependency of the nation on the agricultural sector, measures to combat the ongoing global threat – climate change, has not been clearly defined and climate literacy is still minimal in Ghana.

Climate change pose a severe threat on the economy of Ghana and food security since these sectors are climate sensitive. Any changes in the climate means vulnerability of our economy particularly the agricultural sector and potential food shortages. There has been recognized changes in rainfall patterns in Ghana over the years and in this year (2015), it has caused a menace to most farmers in the Northern, Brong-Ahafo and Ashanti regions of Ghana.

Dry crop land in Northern Ghana. Photo Credit: Foster K. Bedi.

Dry crop land in Northern Ghana. Photo Credit: Foster K. Bedi.

Brong- Ahafo region, which is the second largest region in Ghana and famously recognized as the breadbasket of this country, produces vital and most consumed food crops such as yam, tomatoes, cassava, plantain, maize and rice. With the threat of climate change, the second farming season for commercial and subsistence farmers have been a struggle in this region. With the anticipation to receive some rains in August and early September, their hopes have been turned down and now a painful incidence of dying crops due to drought.  The  limited  use  of  irrigation  facilities  and  high dependence  on  unfavourable  climatic  conditions  for  the  fruition  of  good harvest  tend  to  introduce  huge  instability  in  the  standards  of  living  of  the people – both farmers and consumers. The percentage of cultivated land under irrigation in Ghana is estimated as 0.89% which is equivalent to 23,657 hectares. The dependency of major farming communities in Ghana on rainfall makes climate change effects such as drought and flooding a critical threat.

Most likely, it is expected that food prices will jump up due to the suffered drought in Ghana causing loss of harvest and expected decrease in yield. During an interview with some environmental activists and agricultural stakeholders in well – known farming regions in Ghana, it was recognized that most farmers recognize the variations in rainfall and have their indigenous ways of calculating precision on when to sow their seeds. However, it is advised that the government develops a robust and effective policy scheme for farmers – one which will alleviate the cost input of farmers in situations where the climate in unfavourable to their harvest.

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