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- Name: The Adaptive Capacity Of Smallholder Farmers To Climate Change In The Northern Region Of Ghana
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Over the past few decades, climate change has adversely affected both physical and biological systems in most continents across the globe (Rosenzweig et al., 2007). According to Porter et al. (2014), in the past 30 years climate change has contributed to global agricultural production declining by 1–5% per decade. Its effects are also predicted to manifest in severe consequences for the global agricultural sector, especially in tropical and sub-tropical regions (Dewi, 2009, Thornton, 2012).
Where the economies of a majority of countries are largely driven by the agricultural sector, such as in sub-Saharan Africa, the impacts of climate change are particularly severe. The rapid and uncertain changes in temperature and rainfall pattern in the subcontinent deepens the vulnerability of the agricultural systems, especially food production already today (AGRA, 2014). This trend is expected to intensify in the future with the predicted climate change in tropical regions as it is expected to cause a significant decline in the production of important and staple food crops in such regions (Nelson et al., 2009, Porter et al., 2014). In response to expected changes, governments supported by international cooperation have intensified their efforts to empower the agricultural sector to effectively adapt to climate change at both national and local levels.
This holds particularly true for the Northern region of Ghana, one of the driest savannah regions of Ghana, where an increasing number of droughts, floods and bushfires heavily affect nature and humans (Dazé, 2013, Akudugu and Alhassan, 2012). It is found to be one of the most vulnerable and exposed regions to climate change and variability in Ghana (Etwire et al., 2013, Stanturf et al., 2011). At the receiving end of these impacts are millions of poor smallholder farmers with minimal livelihood alternatives who are already marginalised, poor and largely rely on nature for food and income (Frank and Penrose Buckley, 2012, Morton, 2007). Their rain-fed agriculture, forming the dominant economic activity in the region (Antwi-Agyei et al., 2012), relies heavily on a single and already modified rainy season. Over the past decade, there have been growing number of studies on possible ways of increasing the resilience of these farmers against climate change impacts in the region. Most of these studies are largely centred on farm-level adaptation methods and strategies (Wossen et al., 2014, Al-Hassan et al., 2013, Kuwornu et al., 2013, Laube et al., 2012, Armah et al., 2011). There are only a few studies on the adaptive capacity of smallholder farmers towards the new climate variabilities in the region (Nantui et al., 2012). However, knowing who among those we expect to be the most vulnerable to climate change have a higher respective lower adaptive capacity to climate change and what the relevant determinants for these capacities are provides a basis to find more effective ways for supporting smallholder farmers in the Northern region of Ghana in their attempt to sustain their agricultural production and consequently the basis of their livelihoods and urban centres in the region. Therefore, the adaptive capacity assessments bring to the decision table fundamental information for the development of climate change adaptation policy (Adger et al., 2007, Juhola and Kruse, 2015). Thus, specific assessments focussing on the adaptive capacities of smallholder farmers deliver critical information in relation to key strengths and weaknesses and help to inform policy development and interventions on climate change adaptation.