Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Enhancing the Adaptation of Smallholder Farmers to Climate Change

Sometime this year I interviewed some rice farmers in the Volta Region of Ghana to ask of their information needs as far as their rice production was concerned. Among all the responses I got there was one that was very interesting. A farmer said "You see, in the past, we could predict when the rains will come and when they will stop so we can plan our planting well. But now, we don't know, it changes every year; there can even be floods during harmattan." - CLIMATE CHANGE. You got it. But does the smallholder farmer in the village understand what in the world that is? 

Image source: Wikipedia
Smallholder farmers have been experiencing the negative impacts of this weather variability without knowing what is really behind their low yields, crop failures and other impacts. Obviously, livelihoods have been affected but little is being done to protect smallholder farmers. 

While current research indicates that average temperature increases over the past 20 years in Ghana have adversely affected the production of maize, millet, rice and other foodstuffs, there is even a greater need to ascertain the direct impacts of climate change on smallholder agricultural productivity and find sustainable solutions to mitigate the adverse effects. In this light, the Alliance for Green Revolution Africa (AGRA), together with the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research and the Science and Technology Policy Research Institute (CSIR-STEPRI) has launched a research project into the impact of climate change on smallholder agricultural productivity in Ghana.

The project entitled: Enhancing the Adaptation of Smallholder Farmers, Especially Women, to Climate Change for Improved Agricultural Production in Ghana, is expected to last for two years. Among other things it will seek to increase understanding among policy makers in Ghana on the impact of climate change on agricultural productivity in the breadbasket regions of Ghana.

According to Dr Nelson Obiri-Prempeh, the National Policy Hub Coordinator of AGRA, the impact of climate change has been exacerbated due to policy gaps and low level of awareness by stakeholders including government, policy makers and the farmers themselves.

Though government is touted for taking steps to develop two draft policies on climate Change – the National Climate Change Policy Framework (NCCPF) which provides strategic direction for coordinating issues relating to climate change, and seeks to ensure that Ghana pursues a development path that is attuned to climate change; and National Climate Change Adaptation Strategy (NCCAS) which also strives to enhance the country’s current and future response to climate change impacts by strengthening its adaptive capacity and improving social and ecosystem resilience – these policies do not adequately address the specific vulnerability of smallholder farmers. Government’s strategies have so far failed to set priorities, interventions and targets to appropriately respond to climate change, he added.

AGRA expects the research to contribute to the development and adoption of policies or their revisions for addressing the impacts of climate on smallholder farmers.

The project is also expected to enhance understanding of best practices in climate change adaptation and resilience in the breadbasket regions of Ghana, as well as to strengthen capacity of institutions which are part of the Environmental Policy Action Node to advocate for policy changes to reduce the impacts of climate change on smallholder farmers.

Credit: Myjoyonline.com
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