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University of Denver (2020)

Climate Change and Seed Security Among Smallholder Farmers in Northern Ghana

Madin, Michael Biwalib

Titre : Climate Change and Seed Security Among Smallholder Farmers in Northern Ghana

Auteur : Madin, Michael Biwalib,

Université de soutenance : University of Denver

Grade : Master of Arts (MA) 2020

Smallholder agriculture is highly susceptible to climate variability and change. According to recent projections by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, this sensitivity would likely increase in the coming decades, with more erratic rainfall, prolonged dry periods, shorter growing seasons, and seed germination failures. In the African context, the mechanisms through which these ecological stressors would affect seed security are poorly understood. Drawing upon a case study of semi-arid Ghana, this study examines climate change impacts on seed security among smallholder farmers. It adopts a mixed-methods approach with intensive fieldwork in two farming communities. Conceptually, the study uses a political ecology framework to understand the environmental, historical, and political factors that shape seed systems under changing climatic conditions. Methods of data collection included a household survey (n=429), focus group discussions (n=2), and in-depth interviews integrated with human-environment timelines (n=20). Overall, the findings show that the significant determinants of seed security in semi-arid Ghana include village remoteness, mobile phone ownership, accessibility to credit, and access to tractor plowing services. The results further show that seed security is often disrupted by factors other than climate change, including ethnic conflicts, farmer-herder conflicts, and the use of synthetic farming inputs. Other non-climatic factors include the lingering impacts of neoliberal policies such as structural adjustment programs. In terms of adaptation to seed insecurity, farmers adopt a variety of measures, including the geographical expansion of their seed networks during times of stress. This adaptation strategy was however gendered. More specifically, female-headed households were less willing to procure seeds beyond a distance of 60 km. Ultimately, the study argues that in the quest to enhance seed security, an overemphasis on climate change impacts alone may be inadequate. Such an approach could detract attention from equally important socio-political factors that reinforce farmers’ struggle to access healthy and desirable seeds


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