Farmers’ Perceptions of Climate Change and Variability and Existing Opportunities for Adaptation in Wenchi Area of Ghana

By S. Adjei-Nsiah, R. N. Issaka, J. O. Fening, P. Mapfumo, V. Anchirina and K. E. Giller.

Published by The International Journal of Climate Change: Impacts and Responses

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Climate change is increasingly emerging as the most significant environmental threat to sustainability of human livelihoods in Ghana, as in many parts of sub-Saharan Africa. A participatory research study initiated in 2007 in Wenchi, Ghana, shows that farmers consider poor rainfall distribution and frequent droughts as the most commonly observed indicators of climatic variability in recent times. About 55% of the farmers considered 1980s as the decade of worst observed adverse weather events, and poor rainfall distribution was mentioned as the most observed adverse weather event by about 70% of the respondents. Farmers have responded to these adverse weather events by making changes in their farming practices. These changes included increased crop diversification such as planting of early maturing crops, use of drought tolerant crop varieties and planting of different crop varieties as well as escaping sensitive crop stages through crop management practices that ensure that critical crop growth stages do not coincide with harsh climatic conditions in the growing season. Early planting was the strategy frequently used by majority (34%) of the farmers, followed by the use of agro-chemicals (18%) and planting of early maturing crops (16%). Emerging priority areas for research include development of appropriate cropping systems to improve soil fertility and enhance sustainable production, and to develop appropriate soil and crop management practices for cassava-based cropping systems in order to improve yields and cooking quality of cassava, a major staple food for the people of Wenchi. Poor access to climate information and knowledge on crop management technologies is a major factor influencing the responsiveness of farmers to any externally introduced adaptation options.

Keywords: Adverse Weather, Coping Strategies, Land Tenure, Migrants, Rainfall Distribution, Vulnerability

International Journal of Climate Change: Impacts and Responses, Volume 2, Issue 2, pp.49-60. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 948.888KB).

Dr. S. Adjei-Nsiah

Senior Research Fellow, Agricultural Research Centre-Kade, University of Ghana, Legon, Accra, Ghana

Dr. S. Adjei-Nsiah holds a PhD degree in Production Ecology and Resource Conservation from Wageningen University and Research Centre. He is currently a Senior Research Fellow at the University Of Ghana Agricultural Research Centre-Kade of the Institute of Agricultural Research, College of Agriculture and Consumer Sciences, University of Ghana where He works as a Farming System Agronomist. He also teaches at the Crop Science Department of the College of Agriculture and Consumer Sciences at the University of Ghana, Legon. His research interest is in the area of facilitating smallholder farmers to address the problem of soil fertiity decline to increase their resilience to climate change and variabilty through Participatory Action Research.

Dr. R. N. Issaka

Soil Research Institute, Ghana

R.N. Issaka holds PhD degree in Soil Fertility. He is a Senior Research Scientist at the Soil Research Institute, Ghana. His research focuses on soil fertility and plant nutrition and climate change adaptation.

Dr. J. O. Fening

Soil Research Institute, Ghana

J.O. Fening is a Principal Scientist and the Director of the Soil Research Institute, Ghana. He holds a PhD degree in Soil Science. His research area includes organic matter dynamics, reclaimation of degraded lands and rhizobiology.

Dr. P. Mapfumo

University of Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe

Paul Mapfumo is a Lecturer in Soil Fertility and Applied Ecology and Sustainable Natural Resource Management at the University of Zimbabwe. His research focuses on Integrated Soil Fertility Management (ISFM) in Tropical Agro-Eco System to address challenges of food and nutritional insecurity. Paul Mapfumo is currently the Principal Investigator and the Team Leader for a University of Zimbabwe-led climate change adaptation in Africa (CCAA) program.

V. Anchirina

Cocoa Research Institute, Ghana

Vincent Anchirina is a Socio-Economist at the Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana. He holds an MSc Agricultural Economics.

Prof. K. E. Giller

Wageningen University and Research Centre, Netherlands

K.E. Giller is professor of Plant Production Systems at Wageningen University in The Netherlands. He holds a PhD in Plant Ecology. His research focuses on (1) the temporal and spatial dynamics of natural resources within African farming systems (including common property) and their interactions and (2) the role of nitrogen fixation by food, forage and tree legumes in tropical cropping systems.

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