MEST, MOFA mount strategies to assist farmers adapt to climate change
By: Stephen Odoi-Larbi
The ever-increasing threat of climate change on the environment, especially, on food security and other key-resource dependant sectors, has become a worry to nations around the globe.
In Ghana, an increased body of evidence shows that climatic variability is adversely affecting the country’s natural resources such as land, water, forests and vegetation, as well as human capital.
Its rippling effect on the country’s agriculture sector is enormous, as recent statistics show that a total of 1.2 million Ghanaians are with limited access to sufficient and nutritious food throughout the year, while a further two million are at risk of becoming food insecure during the lean season, or at the onset of natural or man-made disasters.
“Climate change is not solely an environmental issue. It is a risk to the hard-won development gains made by Ghana since independence. It is a development issue, a financial issue, a social issue. It is a challenge to food security, water security, and future development,” noted Madam Sherry Ayittey at a workshop organised to upgrade the skills of journalists in 2009.
To avert this, the Ministry of Environment, Science and Technology (MEST), through its Africa Adaptation Programme (AAP), in collaboration with the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA), has mounted community-based strategies and other supporting initiatives to assist local farmers adapt to climate change.
Areas being tackled by the two government institutions include bush or wildfire prevention and control in farming communities in the country, as well as the use of non-hazardous pesticides and insecticides to help increase yield. The farmers are also taught and guided to select drought resistant seedlings during the growing season, as well as modern methods and technologies in farming.
The farmers are also provided with early warning systems, early warning information on pest infestations, disease outbreak, and rainfall patterns.
Much of these activities, according to the Minister, who appeared in Parliament yesterday to answer questions relating to her ministry, are done hand-in-hand with the traditional authorities, through community durbars, focal group discussions, stakeholder meetings at the local level, community radio broadcasts, and local information vans.
Currently, five districts in Ghana are benefiting from the joint initiatives of the MOFA and MEST. They include Aowin Suaman in the Western Region, Keta in the Volta Region, Fanteakwa in the Eastern Region, Sissala East in the Upper West Region and West Mamprusi in the Northern Region.
To further prepare the country to adapt to climate change, MEST is implementing the Ghana Sustainable Land and Water Management Project (GSLWMP). The GSLWMP is funded by a Global Environment Facility (GEF) Grant to support the Government of Ghana to (a) improve land management of selected micro-watersheds in northern parts of the country to reverse land degradation and enhance agricultural productivity; (b) improve spatial planning through the integration of watersheds management plans.
The five-year project aims at supporting the Sustainable Development Initiative for the Northern Savanna to realise the vision of a diversified and resilient economic zone in the north, with significant regional environmental benefits.