Erratic rainfall reducing crop yields in Ghana

Poverty in Ghana

PikuLaar, 35, is a farmer and petty trader from Farfar community in Garu-Tempane District in the Upper East Region of Ghana. His livelihood is being affected by increasingly erratic rainfall brought on by climate change. Piku is worried about the knock on effects that reduced crop yields will have on his children.

Piku plants different crops for the dry and rainy seasons like most farmers in the region. This is becoming more difficult due to observed changes in the seasonal weather cycle. There has been a shift in the rainfall pattern; the rainy season is starting later.It used to start in April and now it begins in May or June.

This is having a direct impact on farmers. ‘We used to get better yields, but because of the shift in the raining seasons and late planting, we have a reduction of yields,’ says Piku.

Poorly timed rainfall that comes in insufficient or excessive bursts can reduce plant health and the ability to produce a high yield. Crops are also more likely to suffer from insect and disease damage under these conditions.

Of the crops he grows, Piku keeps some and sells the rest. Last year, he harvested 20 bags of rice and 25 bags of maize, worth USD 2250 on the market, but this is less than in previous years.

‘With smaller yields, I have to sell less. One of the effects of this is that I cannot expand my farm. I really want to harvest more,’ he explains.

Piku is particularly concerned how the loss of income will effect his family. ‘I might start having more difficulty paying school and health care fees. I might have to take my 11 and 9 year-old children out of school if I can’t afford the fees,’ he says.

The Farfar community is experiencing an increasing number of floods, especially in July and August. This is making it even more difficult for farmers to time when they plant and harvest to best avoid losses.

Piku and the other farmers in his region are vulnerable to extreme weather events that are bigger and more frequent due to climate change. Charles Yorke, head of the research department at the Ghana Meteorological Agency explains that ‘particularly in the North, we have extreme conditions of flood events and droughts.’

The Farfar community is working with CARE’s Adaptation Learning Programmein order to adjust to the deteriorating farming conditions. They have installed a number of rain gauges so farmers can better predict when and how much rain is likely to fall so they can plant crops appropriately.

Piku hopes that in time the rain gauge information will help to make farms across his community more productive despite the erratic weather and increased flooding.

The feedback information from the rain figures will be useful for us in planning in regards to climate change,’ he says.‘It will also guide us in planning for the season with what crops to plant and when to plant them.’

Source: CARE


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