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GhanaWeb Special: Farmers attribute recent low yields to the impact of climate change

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Mon, 22 May 2023 Source:

Correspondence from Eastern Region:

Farming and agriculture and its value chain remain important sectors of any country’s economy, including Ghana where crops, livestock, and seafood produced feed the people and contribute significantly to the economy.

However, these are exceedingly dependent on the climate where changes in the weather pattern, frequency and severity of the rains and droughts could pose challenges to farmers of all kinds and their activities and threaten global food safety.

Many farmers have expressed concern over the changing pattern, adaptation, yield, lack of sensitization and government support towards their businesses over the years.

57-year-old Daniel Teye Doku, a Kpong-based farmer in the Eastern Region cultivates 23 acres of mangoes, cassava, cocoyam, beans, maize and yam and vegetables. The veteran farmer with over four decades of experience in interaction with GhanaWeb’s Michael Oberteye on his farm in the Lower Manya Krobo Municipal expressed a fair knowledge of the topic while attributing its causes to deforestation, rampant use of chemicals and wars.

Asked about his knowledge of the impact of the phenomenon on his farming activities, Mr. Doku said the situation compels farmers like him to resort to irrigation for short term farming activities which limits his productivity and income.

“Where I’m standing now was formerly a forest area where we harvest a lot of things, but now the rainfall pattern or the climate change, we only have to irrigate and do farms [for] very short times not like the olden days so it affects our income and our yield.”

Comparing farming of previous years to current times, Mr. Doku noted that though he and his father farmed on a much smaller scale than today, the yield was much bigger.

“When I was farming with my dad, we couldn’t farm more than two acres and when we farmed one acre, we harvested about fifteen, twenty bags of maize…but today, the yield has gone down to an extent that the whole acre you cannot get 300 tons of cassava out of it.”

Furthering, he disclosed that farmers now depended on heavy fertilizer to increase their yield.

To adapt to the changes, Mr. Doku said he has adopted planting of legumes, use of fertilizer and poultry manure application to replenish the soil and nourish it to ensure bountiful yield.

Farmers previously depended on some natural phenomena to determine when the rainy season or drought was approaching. These, as mentioned by Mr. Doku included the migration of swarms of butterflies from one direction to the other, changing of leaves by the silk cotton and baobab trees to announce the onset of the rains.

Now, farmers rely on weather forecasters and apps to stay up to date with the weather.

David Ocansey Landies and Kisseh Simon, who have engaged in active crop production for the past eighteen years, shared similar views.

Mr. Kisseh who cultivates maize and vegetables including okro, cucumber, garden eggs and onion blames deforestation for the phenomenon, leading to unpredictable rainfall patterns. He said, “you can’t predict whether it’ll rain this season or not.”

The farmer who said he reaped bountifully in the past without the application of fertilizer said the current climatic conditions led to a reduction in their planting season and reduced food production. “It affects us in so many ways,” he noted.

For Mr. Doku and Mr. Kisseh, self-initiated irrigation systems on their farms have helped to maintain crop yield, for others like David Ocansey however, their appeal is to government to assist them construct dug-outs in their farms to irrigate their farms to enable them engage in longer planting seasons.

Though government support for farmers is crucial in lessening the impact of the phenomenon on food production, the farmers say this has not been the case.

David Ocansey Landies lamenting over the lack of interventions for them tasked government to step in with concrete measures to support them.

He requested: “I personally would be happy if government would support every farmer with a borehole or a means of irrigation so that the farmer would not solely rely on natural rainfall.”

What the Municipal Crop Officer for Lower Manya Krobo had to say?

Municipal Crop Officer for Lower Manya Krobo, Mr. Eric Agbemale describing the situation as a serious concern to farmers and other stakeholders in the agric value chain, expressed regret that his department was not adequately resourced to pursue a rigorous sensitization and offer support for food producers.

He noted that the department periodically offers some training to the farmers on proper farming methods, including using special hybrid seeds to control the impact of climate change on their farms and improve crop yield.

Mr. Eric Agbemale observed that food insecurity was a threat in the municipality owing to the rising cost of farm produce.

To help farmers overcome the problem, the Municipal Crop Officer urged farmers to construct small dugouts in their farms to harvest water to supply their crops with.

This report was completed as part of the Centre for Journalism Innovation and Development‘s 2023 Climate Change Fellowship with funding support from the Centre for Investigative Journalism’s Climate Change in News Media project.

Watch the full GhanaWeb Special below:

Writer: Michael Oberteye

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