This study aims to undertake an economic analysis of technological, institutional and policy strategies for managing the effects of climatic variability and market risks in smallholder maize-legume systems in the northern regions of Ghana. The overall goal is to design appropriate adaptation strategies that would assist farmers to cope with climate change and variability and thereby increase their productivity. A key hypothesis to be tested in the research is that cultivation of legumes is a viable option to address the perennial problem of low soil fertility and could also be used as a hedge against climate and market risk. Various models will be developed/adapted and used to evaluate the tradeoffs and effects of technological and institutional innovations on farm household resource use, agro-ecosystem sustainability and welfare. The modelling results will be used to suggest policy instruments that can enhance adaptive capacity and mitigate the negative impacts of climate change.
Climate change is likely to affect (and is already affecting) the livelihoods of smallholder farmers in many parts of Africa in a negative way. African smallholders are particularly vulnerable to adverse changes in agro-climatic conditions due to low technological and economic capabilities and an unfavourable institutional and economic environment. This five-year study sought to identify and analyse technological, institutional and policy strategies that affect the capability of smallholders in northern Ghana to manage climate-change induced risks threatening their livelihoods. This objective was achieved by analysing the impacts of climate change on cereal-based farming systems and food markets in northern Ghana. Biophysical and economic models were developed and used to evaluate the trade-offs and effects of technological and market changes or innovations on farm household resource use, agro-ecosystem sustainability, and household welfare.
The following key findings were made in respect of maize farming systems:
• Faced with the effects of climate change, small holder farmers can improve their grain yields and profitability by using improved varieties and chemical fertilizers.
• Grain yield and profitability can also be improved by timely sowing decisions.
• Although the farmers are aware of the value of using improved maize varieties, the use of local varieties is still prevalent.
• Use of chemical fertilizers and drought-resistant seed varieties is highly valued by the farmers.
• From the marketing perspective, it was found that improved (paved) road condition from the farm-gate to the nearest local market, access to market information, seasonality, produce quality and increase in output minimise spatial price differentials and significantly improves farm-gate prices.