The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations has developed climate-resilient agriculture and food systems for some local communities to help mitigate losses in times of natural disaster.
According to the FAO, this technical cooperation project is designed to build the capacity of local government authorities and agriculture extension officers from selected communities of the Bawku West and Anloga districts in disaster risk management.
The project is also expected to introduce best practices in land and water management to farmers, as well as the use of climate-smart seed varieties to build farmers’ resilience to disasters including climate variability.
FAO Representative to Ghana, Ndiaga Gueye, in explaining the project’s concept stated it remains a fact that climate impact continues to be devastating – leading to increased impact on the global economy, agricultural production and livelihoods. Therefore, the project is aimed at enhancing the resilience of vulnerable farming and fishing communities against disasters including floods, drought and fires; emergency preparedness, adaptation and mitigation strategies as well as Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR).
“FAO works to increase the resilience of agricultural livelihoods at risk of disasters and crises. People with resilient livelihoods are better able to withstand damage, recover and adapt when disasters cannot be avoided. The increasing frequency and intensity of disasters caused by climate change reinforces the urgency to build the resilience of agricultural livelihoods for vulnerable communities. The FAO and government of Ghana have designed this project – Enhanced Resilience and Emergency Preparedness among Rural Dwellers,” he said.
In Ghana, rural populations are among the most badly hit by climate change-related disasters – such as drought, floods, sea-level rise, rising temperatures, and increased pests and diseases. And particularly for coastal communities, rising sea levels coupled with dwindling mangroves along the coast have exacerbated the vulnerability of coastal communities to flooding and reduced reproduction of fisheries.
Deputy Minister for Food and Agriculture (Crops), Yaw Frimpong Addo, commended the FAO for this initiative and indicated that the project is well-aligned to the ‘Investing for Food and Jobs’ implementation plan of MoFA – which seeks to strengthen agri-food systems with an emphasis on the seed supply chain and strengthening the resilience of rural communities and vulnerable farming populations.
The beneficiary local communities
Director of Agriculture-Directorate of Crop Service, Ministry of Food and Agriculture, Dr. Solomon Gyan Ansah, indicated that this programme will help equip farmers with emergency preparedness to be enabled in tackling unforeseen disasters identified with Bawku West and Anloga district.
The specific tools with which these local communities will be empowered include climate-smart seed varieties of tomatoes and rice. These varieties are fast-growing and early maturing, and so when used they can grow and be harvested before the drought, flood, bushfire or other disaster sets in.
“When you take Bawku West, for instance, their challenges are drought, floods from Bagri Dam, and poor agronomic practices, and so they are only living on hand-to-mouth production basis – to which we want to effect change.
“Secondly, if you pick Anloga as the second community, for instance, they are close to the shore and so are affected by floods and tidal waves. However, they have mangroves that could serve as barriers to mitigate the waves – but they use them as firewood and so we want to help grow more mangroves for this purpose and sensitise them on the importance of preserving them,” he said.
He further indicated that the soft skills part of the programme will train officials of the National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO) so far as disaster risk management is concerned.
Beyond the training, he emphasised, the related institutions and agencies to implement the initiative will also be retooled and enabled to execute the project.
The workshop was attended by representatives from the National Directorates of MoFA, Regional and District Directors of Agriculture, NADMO Officials, EPA and the Forestry Commission.