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Opinions of Saturday, 19 September 2015

Columnist: Abubakari, Farida

How Ghana can help her worried Farmers on Climate Change

The raining season has started but I am not sure whether I would be able to farm this year, said Hajia, a rural farmer in the northern region of Ghana.
Why? Asked Fali, a colleague farmer from a neighboring town-“Last year, my farm got flooded and I lost all my crops. I have nothing left to sell and pay the Banks for the loan I collected “, Hajia added.

“Hmm, you know I cultivate vegetables during the dry season, but there was a sudden drought last year too in my town. For that matter, I couldn’t sow anything. My children are now at home because I cannot afford to pay their school fees”, replied Fali.

“I even heard Mr. Agriculture has committed suicide due to his inability to pay his loans to Agricultural Development Bank (ADB) because his ten acreage farmland was burnt by fire. He lost everything. Mr. Agriculture became frustrated thinking he might be jailed in prison”, Fali reported.
The two vulnerable women farmers took a deep sigh and said, “When will we get a solution to this, and what is causing this?

For years, we have heard voices and witnessed the effects of climate change on agriculture in Ghana; crop failures and death of livestock have become more frequent, leading to economic losses, undermining food security and contributing to higher food prices.

Our climate is changing and all over the world, we are experiencing more unpredictable and uncertain weather than in the past. Farmers and farm workers depend on the weather for their daily bread and are feeling the impact of climate change and will continue to feel if measures are not put in place to prevent suicide among farmers, bankruptcy, food insecurity, hunger and poverty.

If farmers continue to commit suicide, who will be available to farm and how can farming be attractive to others? There is an African proverb that says “If the last tree dies, the last man dies. We can’t let that happen.
Ghana has firsthand experience in Climate change. It is predicted that long rains will decrease and droughts will be more common resulting in food insecurity in the country.

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the three main causes of the increase in greenhouse gases observed over the past 250 years have been fossil fuels, land use, and agriculture. Ploughing field’s releases carbon dioxide (CO2) in the soil, and rice cultivation and livestock breeding both emit large quantities of methane (CH4). Farming uses fossil fuels and fertilizers which also releases GHG.

Climate smart agriculture can help reduce emission in Agriculture as well as increase productivity. Climate Smart Solutions-Such as the use of drought-and heat tolerant crops and improved irrigation systems- are critical for food and nutrition security, farming resilience and higher productivity.
According to FAO, Climate Smart Agriculture is defined as agriculture that sustainably increases productivity, resilience and adaptation, as well as contributes towards reducing the emission of greenhouse gases-leading to overall food security and nutrition in the face of climate change.

Finally, the research institutions and the ministry of food and agriculture need to collaborate to work hand in hand in order to make their findings known to farmers with the help of the extension officers-after all that is the essence of research. But if the research conducted is only documented on paper or published online, how can the vulnerable that needed it most have access to it since over 50% of the populated farmers in the country are illiterates.

By
Farida Abubakari,
Global Ambassador for Youth and Enlightenment and Welfare (YEW) Ghana
and Climate Tracker for the Adopt a Negotiator program. Email: uniquefarida@live.com