Climate-smart agricultural technologies are significantly improving crop yields and the lives of farmers and communities in West Mamprusi Municipality, Ghana. In doing so, the technologies are addressing issues that have plagued this part of the country for more than a decade.
Mr Emmanuel Anaba, a Master of Sustainable Agriculture from the Charles Sturt University, Orange NSW, introduced the technologies to deal with the extremely high temperatures, droughts and floods the Northern Region of Ghana has suffered since 2009.
The climate change variabilities substantially reduced farmer’s crop yields from an average of 10 bags to 4 for maize per acre and from 15 bags to 8 for rice. Today, yields are much stronger with a record 33 bags of rice per acre achieved just one year after the technologies were implemented.
On his return to Ghana after completing his Australia Awards studies, Emmanuel was promoted to Head of the Department of Agriculture, West Mamprusi Municipality, in recognition of the valuable knowledge and skills he developed. This included valuable knowledge in sustainable agricultural practices, including counteracting climate change, managing agro-ecosystems and applying techniques in permaculture and organic agriculture.
Emmanuel incorporated climate-smart agricultural technologies into the Municipal Agricultural Sector Plan.
Through the plan, he trained 12 professionals in his department (including three women), and 20 smallholder farmers (including nine women) to become Agricultural Extension Agents, specialising in soil moisture conservation techniques. Such techniques included using earth bunds and sand-filled bags to conserve moisture for crops during dry spells and identifying contours to plough to reduce soil erosion.
Other new techniques Emmanuel introduced based on his learnings in Australia included strip cropping to improve soil fertility, green manuring (using legumes) and organic farming to incorporate nitrogen into the soil to improve its structure.
‘The results are remarkable,’ says Emmanuel. ‘Yields have improved significantly, to an average of 9 bags for maize per acre and an average of 15 bags for rice. This turnaround is improving food security, increasing farmers’ incomes and, in turn, enriching the lives of their communities.’
Seeing the major positive impact, Emmanuel led a tour of 15 district and municipal directors from the Northern Region at the demonstration site at West Mamprusi Municipality. ‘They saw first-hand how the new climate-smart agricultural technologies were working and producing results and they learned a great deal about how to replicate the technologies in their areas.’
Emmanuel is excited about his work and the tangible results achieved. He is also highly motivated to continuing sharing his skills and working with others to support them to transfer the innovative climate-smart agricultural technologies.
‘We’re confident other municipalities will reap similar rewards and are confident we’ll continue to improve life in West Mamprusi Municipality,’ says Emmanuel.
Photo: Emmanuel Anaba (orang shirt) supervising a farmer on making drills for rice cultivation using simple tools.