Agricultural land in Ghana is used mainly for production of cereal, cocoa, oil palm, root vegetables, tubers, livestock raising, and irrigated farming in conjunction with shallot farming.
Root crops are critical to local livelihoods and the Ghanaian economy. At present, they account for roughly 58% of per capita food consumption and about 40% of GDP. The role of cocoa in the Ghanaian economy is also substantial, particularly as a commodity export. Cacao is highly sensitive to changes in climate. Ill-adapted farming practices, more than any other factor, result in current high levels of vulnerability to climate change effects.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) commissioned an analysis of climate change on cereal production and an assessment of potential adaptation strategies. Using the climate change scenarios developed at the time and certain impact models (i.e., the CERES maize model of the CERES family of models), it was projected that maize yields would decline by about 7% by the year 2020 whilst millet, being more drought sensitive, would be largely unaffected.
The overriding discovery from the assessment is that effective policies could minimize adverse impacts on food security. Several adaptation options would be instrumental in facilitating Ghanaian communities in adapting their agricultural activities to climatic change.
- Rehabilitate inactive cocoa farms. Restoring degraded lands to sustainable production would build resilience in the face of climate change. Many degraded cocoa farms and forests that were once cultivated played important roles in reducing deforestation and migration rates, both of which actually exacerbate local vulnerability. Policies to promote irrigation systems in rehabilitated farms would help farmers cope with climate change.
- Reform financial and institutional framework for agricultural production. The agricultural sector needs to provide incentives for the adoption of new, more efficient farming practices through enhanced farmer access to credit, stabilization of farmers’ incomes, and the development of more effective land tenure systems.
- Promote shaded cocoa farming. Policies should be established to encourage tree planting and maintenance of shade on cocoa farms. Shaded cocoa cropping systems can provide substantial environmental benefits including habitat conservation, climate change mitigation, hydrological cycling and watershed protection.
- Develop drought contingency plans. A drought management policy should be established that makes use of information systems about changing climate conditions and patterns, advance preparatory practices, and post-drought options to deal with impacts, including insurance.