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Climate Change Adaptation: Illiterate Farmers Go Back to School

some community farmers learning basic numerals, modern agric practices, picture Francis Npong

Francis Npong, Gushiegu, Ghana, Farmers in some communities in the Gushiegu District are learning basic agriculture and climate science which also include learning to write and read basic numerals to help them cope with the impacts of climate change. The department of Agriculture in Gushiegu District integrated farmer education as part of the District’s strategic food security plan.

Adult learning programme is the government of Ghana’s initiative introduced to offer opportunity to those who could not have access to formal education to learn basic reading and writing.

Intensifying adult education among illiterate farming communities is necessary for climate change adaptation, according to the Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) officer of CARE Ghana, Thomas Ayamga.

Climate Change Adaptation is simply adopting or devising practical means to sustain one’s livelihood in the face of changing weather conditions. Adaptation however is different from mitigation which involves taking action to reduce the activities that impact negatively on the climate conditions.

Mr. Imoro Ahamed Tijani, Senior Production Manager of the Department of Agriculture in Gushiegu said the farmer education programme is under the auspices of Non-formal Education Division of the Ghana Education Service (GES) and was integrated into the agriculture practices two years ago by the Ministry of Agriculture (Department of agriculture) to give farmers basic science lessons on farming and climate science to enable them adapt to climate change and improve crop production. ‘This is part of efforts to make sure the country is food secured”, he said.

He disclosed this during the farmers’ engagement meeting facilitated by the Community Life Improvement Programme (CLIP) held in Gushiegu.

He observed that introducing adult education to illiterate farming communities would aid adoption and utilization of new technologies among farmers thereby increase food production of food.

Northern Ghana over the year now has witnessed deteriorating food security due to long droughts and excessive flooding. In 2011, more than one thousand farmers lost their farms to floods, and hundred thousand people displaced. This prompted the government and international organizations to support in the form of relief items.

The Manager said food security in the District (Northern Ghana) is under threat because of the impact of climate change and that farmers need to learn basic agricultural science to be able to understand and devise coping mechanisms to produce enough food for the family sustenance.

The rainfall pattern he observed has become un-predictable and erratic making farming one of the difficult livelihood activities to undertake. “It will be important if all our farmers could read and analyze rain gauge data. CARE has established a number of rain gauges in some communities which are helping in weather forecasting and planning of farming activities. Farmers need education more than any other person”, say Community Adaptation Expert, Thomas Ayamga.

He collaborated the Department of Agriculture official statement that there was the need to prioritize farm education, improved seed supply, and agronomic services to farmers to achieve food security.

Mr Imoro Ahamed Tijani who took the farmers through their strategic food security plan said food security existed when people have access to quality and nutritious food to maintain quality health.

However, he said farmers in Gushiegu are being provided with agriculture extension services including the introduction of improved crop varieties such as upland rice, soy beans to not only improve their nutrition needs but also give them income.

He commanded CLIP for the support being given to the department and hoped other organizations would learn to collaborate with government institutions to avoid duplication of efforts.

The Manager of CLIP Mr Nashiru Bawa said efforts duplication does not give the clear picture of gains made in community development and must be looked at again by the development of partners.

He said that institutions could not continue to do things the same way that never realized positive results and that collaboration and support was best option to harnessing efforts in development.

He urged other stakeholders working in the area of food security, climate change and capacity building to collaborate with other organizations to ensure that food security and development are achieved in the District.

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