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Climate Expert Plays Down Effects of Climate Change on Ghanaian Agriculture

Executive Director for the Center for Climate Change and Food Security, Mr. Nurudeen Mahamudu Mohammed, has allayed fears of serious climatic effects on Ghana.  Mr. Nurudeen’s assertions arise out of his belief that the effect of the phenomenon on Ghana is not as severe as in other parts of the globe.

He was however quick to add that the effects on farming activities though minimal, could have significant effects on post-harvest periods where losses could be made. This is due to the unpredictability of the weather when farmers sometimes harvested their crops but suffered losses due to the absence of sunlight to dry them coupled with its resultant damages.

Climate change is projected to have serious environmental, economic, and social impacts on Ghana, particularly on rural farmers whose livelihoods depend largely on rainfall. The extent of these impacts depends largely on awareness and the level of adaptation in response to climate change.

Delving into the general climatic effects on the environment, Mr. Nurudeen Mahamadu attributed the phenomenon to the infestation or invasion of pests and diseases like the fall armyworm where such pests migrate to neighboring countries and affects farmers in their new environment.

He therefore plead with MOFA to put in place concrete measures to avoid such invasions in the country in the future.

He disclosed that Researchers and Climate Experts would soon partner the Ministry of Food and Agriculture to introduce modern agriculture into the country to aid farmers to successfully grow all year round irrespective of the climatic conditions.

Climate change and land degradation result in decreasing yields and crop failures and cause further impoverishment. Farmers have diversified their livelihoods to adapt to uncertain environmental conditions in various ways.

While most farmers are expecting rains around this time, Mr. Mahamadu observed that the rains were delaying, cautioning however that growing vegetables during the impending rainy season is not prudent since vegetables are best planted during the harmattan season.

The other risk farmers stand to suffer after harvest, as explained by the Executive Director is the risk of rains beating the harvested crops.

In respect of the impending rainy season, the climate expert advised farmers to instead focus on the growing of cassava, yam, maize, etc. since the season will aid the proper growth of those crops.

Mr. Mahamadu however disclosed that a research was currently underway to study the effects of present weather conditions on farmers and affected crops and estimate losses made on particular crops.

While traditionally a diversification of the production and migration are the prime means of adaptation, many farmers have started to intensify their production by adopting shallow groundwater irrigation for vegetable gardening for Ghana’s urban markets.

This has helped to cope with a changing environment, improved poverty and reversed rural–urban migration, while the local hydrology curbed an over-exploitation of groundwater resources, commonly associated with an uncontrolled farmer-driven expansion of groundwater irrigation.

This research confirms that farmer-driven small-scale irrigation can play an important role in the process of climate change adaptation.

On the way forward to check climate change, Mr. Mahamadu advised individuals to avoid acts that contribute to the phenomenon.

“The way forward to check climate change is for individuals to avoid acts that contribute to these changes such as methane emission, to forestall a disastrous effect on the country,” he cautioned.

Major adaptation strategies identified towards ameliorating the effects of climate change include crop diversification, planting of short season varieties, change in crops species, and a shift in planting date, among others.

Implications for policymaking will be to make credit facilities more flexible, to invest in training more extension officers and more education on climate change and adaptation strategies.

The Ghanaian government in a bid to tackle climate change has produced a National Climate Change Policy, National Climate Change Adaption Strategy, National Climate Change and Green Economy Learning Strategy.

Source: Joyce Bedeley/ritefmonline.org/jbedeley9357@gmail.com

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