Poor irrigation increasing poverty among smallholder farmers – PFAG

smallholder farmers

Government’s ineffective agricultural policies in the area of irrigation are impacting negatively on smallholder farmers – leading to high levels of poverty among them, Executive Director of the Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana (PFAG), Dr. Charles Nyaaba, has said.

Dr. Nyaaba noted that government’s initiatives aimed at addressing food security in an environmentally friendly manner through the Planting for Food and Jobs and One Village, One Dam programmes have not helped to reduce the vulnerability of Ghanaian smallholder farmers to the vagaries of climate change.

“The One Village One Dam programme – aimed at providing all year-round water for farmers especially in the Northern parts of the country – has become a fiasco as the dams are unusable in dry seasons.

“The Pwalugu multi-purpose dam has also not received the needed funding, leading to the project being stalled 35 months after sod-cutting. This approach to agricultural investment has impacted negatively on the environment, agroforestry and reduced agricultural contribution to GDP, which led to high level of poverty among smallholder farmers in the country,” he stated.

Dr. Nyaaba was speaking during the National Caravan on Climate Change March for Climate Action ahead of the United Nations Conference of Parties (COP27) scheduled from November 6-18, 2022 in Egypt.

The National Caravan

The National Caravan is meant to draw government and other actors’ attention to the effects of climate change on food security and the overall economic stability of Ghana.

The United Nations Foundation predicted that in the absence of any effective adaptation, global yields of staple crops could decline up to 30 percent by 2050; and currently more than 750 million people are experiencing severe food insecurity issues globally as a result of climate change effects and other factors.

And in Ghana the average temperature increase per decade stands at 0.21°C – and this is expected to rise within the range of 1.7°C to about 2.04°C by 2030, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a United Nations body responsible for advancing knowledge on human-induced climate change, has stated.

The Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation (MESTI), further added that rainfall declined over the past four decades in all the agro-ecological zones in Ghana, and sea-level is also expected to rise from 5.8 cm in 2020 to 16.5 cm by 2050. “Since climate change directly influences temperature and precipitation trends as well as extreme events such as drought and flooding, the agriculture sector is unambiguously the most vulnerable sector,” Dr. Nyaaba stated, as the sector mostly depends on rainfall.

He said despite the Paris Agreement on climate change in which goal 13 emphasise the need to take urgent action to combat climate change, and government’s own Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC), government has not demonstrated much commitment toward achieving this goal.

The proposals

As Ghana joins the world at COP 27 in Egypt, and given the impact of climate change on food security worldwide, PFAG through its Executive Director has made proposals for immediate action by government.

Dr. Nyaaba called on government to as a matter of urgency implement the revised Land Use and Spatial Planning Act, 2016 (No. 925 of 2016) to regulate the use of lands for agriculture, domestic and industrial activities.

He also called for an immediate ban on the activities of all illegal mining in the country to safeguard lands, forestry and the environment.

With less than 2 percent of the country’s agricultural lands using irrigation, Dr. Nyaaba further urged government to revisit the One Village, One Dam initiative and also seek alternative funding arrangements for construction of the Pwalugu Multi-purpose Dam – including the option for Public Private Partnership arrangements.

“Government should commit budget allocation for rigorous mitigation and adaptation measures to be adopted to avert further effects of climate change on smallholder farmers, especially women and young people in the country. We also call on government to protect (through a legislative and/or regulatory framework) and support (through innovative and inclusive financing mechanisms) agro-ecological practices that guarantee the preservation of ecosystems, food/nutritional sovereignty, and livelihoods for people in the rural communities,” he added.

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