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Adapting to changing climate through improving adaptive capacity at the local level – The case of smallholder horticultural producers in Ghana

Williams, Portia Adade, Crespo, Olivier, Abu, Mumuni
Climate risk management 2019 v.23 pp. 124-135
agricultural machinery and equipment, climate, climate change, crop rotation, decision making, farm management, farmers, horticulture, households, intercropping, irrigation, markets, rain, risk management, small farms, soil, surveys, temperature, Ghana
The consequences of changing climate are often negatively impacting agricultural production, particularly vulnerable smallholder farmers. Smallholder systems heterogeneity requires local specific climate adaptation for reducing the negative impacts of changing climate in regions heavily relying on small farms agriculture. This study examined the trend in climate in Ghana, how smallholder horticultural farmers perceive this changing climate and how they are responding to its perceived effects. A survey of 480 resource-constrained horticultural producers was conducted in two municipalities of Ghana. Descriptive analysis and Weighted Average Index were employed to rank identified adaptation strategies and challenges. The results showed that farmers are already experiencing increasing temperature and declining rainfall patterns consistent with trends of observed climate changing in the last two decades. To reduce vulnerability and improve resilience of smallholders’ production activities, a range of farmer driven soil, water and crop conservation measures and farm management practices are being adopted. The most important adaptation practices identified include fertilization, supplementary irrigation, crop rotation, intercropping and mixed farming. Enhancing households’ climate adaptive capacity is dependent on factors such as improved access to financial resources, climate and production information, market accessibility, farm equipment, storage facilities and other institutional support. To facilitate effective and successful adaptation at the local level, government and institutional support are recommended to complement households’ autonomous strategies for improved decision-making, adaptation plans and actions.