Thursday, October 8, 2015

The place of agriculture in Ghana’s climate adaptation actions

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By Kofi Adu Domfeh

KUMASI, Ghana (PAMACC Newas) - Ghana’s agricultural sector, the largest employer of the economy, has been the hardest hit this year by unfavorable weather.

Farmers across the country have recorded poor crop production because the rains failed them.

Without access to irrigation facilities, the local farmers are at the mercy of the weather to till and manage their farm lands for food production.

The extreme climate variability therefore means agriculturists can no longer plan the cropping season with the weather, a situation that threatens food security.

The changing climate is a reality to these farmers; not only in Ghana but across Africa.

At the continental level, the NEPAD Agency of the African Union is spearheading the Africa Climate-Smart Agriculture Alliance (CSA), with a goal of reaching 25million farm households by 2025.

“For many years now we’ve heard voices and witnessed the effects of climate change on agriculture in our continent; crop failures and death of livestock have become more frequent, leading to economic losses, undermining food security and contributing to higher food prices,” observed Estherine Fotabong, NEPAD Programmes Director.

She added that “In order to make rural transformation attainable, climate change needs to be also mainstreamed in the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP), Africa’s instrument for agricultural growth and economic development”.

Climate Smart Agriculture – a system that produces more food on less land, while being weather resistant and absorbing carbon – is being pushed by the World Bank and the Global Alliance for Climate Smart Agriculture.

Ghana’s economy relies heavily on climate sensitive sectors mainly on agriculture, energy and forestry. With less than one percent of cultivated land under irrigation, farmers are vulnerable to unfavourable climatic conditions.

“Total rainfall amounts are projected to fall or experience great variability which will impact crop production and the livelihoods of many in rural areas,” as stated in the National Climate Change Adaptation Strategy.

Strategies under agriculture include goals to “build and strengthen capacity of local farmers to increase agricultural productivity and awareness of climate issues” and to “build and strengthen capacity of extension officers in new farming technologies in order to enhance their support for farmers”.

Ghana’s actions for climate mitigation and adaptation are contained in the country’s Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) submitted to the United Nation’s climate change negotiation process.

Sustainable land use, including food security, is among the seven priority economic sectors being proposed for implementation in the 10-year period (2020-2030).

The INDC Adaptation Policy Actions focus on “Agriculture resilience building in climate vulnerable landscapes” to be implemented along the lines of the country’s Food and Agriculture Sector Development Policy, Ghana’s Medium-term Agriculture Sector Investment Plan and the Ghana Agriculture Investment Programme.

A total investment of $3.18billion is needed to implement agriculture-related programmes of action – representing about 14% of the total $22.6billion climate implementation investment.

The three areas of investments include: scale up penetration of climate smart technologies to increase livestock and fisheries productivity by 10%; promote innovations in post-harvest storage and food processing and forest products in 43 administrative districts; and modify community-based conservation agriculture adopted in 43 administrative districts.

For the local farmer, the December 2015 Climate Talks in Paris should produce valuable outcomes to deliver interventions under national and international policies.

Such interventions must come in fast and flexible to enable farmers quickly adapt to the changing climate to protect their livelihoods and sustain economic development.

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