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Small-holder farmers’ climate change adaptation practices in the Upper East Region of Ghana

Kumasi, Tyhra Carolyn, Antwi-Agyei, Philip, Obiri-Danso, Kwasi
Environment, development and sustainability 2019 v.21 no.2 pp. 745-762
agricultural land, charcoal, climate change, credit, dryland farming, employment, extension education, farmers, focus groups, fuelwood, households, income, insurance, interviews, irrigation, labor, livelihood, males, ownership, planting, property rights, questionnaires, sales, seeds, surveys, urban areas, water management, women in agriculture, Ghana
The paper assessed the existing adaptation strategies implemented by farmers in the Upper East Region of Ghana to reduce the adverse impacts of climate change and variability. The paper used data collected through a series of participatory methods including focus group discussions, questionnaire surveys and key informant interviews in 4 farming communities with different socioeconomic backgrounds in the Bongo and Talensi-Nabdam Districts of the Upper East Region. Results showed that farmers’ adaptation to climate change and variability may be categorized under agricultural, water management, communal pooling and livelihood diversification techniques. Specific livelihood diversification adaptation practices identified in the study communities include charcoal or fuel wood sales, temporal and permanent migration to urban areas in search of non-existing jobs. Communal pooling, involving joint ownership and sharing of wealth, labor or incomes across households, is not widely practiced and should be enhanced. The findings showed that male and female farmers may engage in different set of adaptation practices to cope with climate change. Further, the results showed that farmers, especially female farmers, were constrained by a lack of property rights of farmlands, lack of credit facilities and lack of access to irrigation facilities, inadequate climate change information and inadequate seeds for planting. The paper recommends that farmers should be encouraged to form farmer-based associations to network socially, access credit facilities, land, insurance products, extension services and training to empower communities and women. Fostering peer exchange of information between communities will ensure best practices, and lessons learnt are shared and scaled-up. This paper contributes to the literature on mechanisms employed by farmers in dryland farming systems to cope with climate change and variability.