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University of Toronto (1998)

Environmental change and farmer response in the Forest-Savanna Transitional Zone of Ghana

Gyamfi, Matthew Kwasi

Titre : Environmental change and farmer response in the Forest-Savanna Transitional Zone of Ghana

Auteur : Gyamfi, Matthew Kwasi

Université de soutenance : University of Toronto

Grade : Doctor of Philosophy 1998

Agricultural planners are divided over whether traditional farming methods can sustain or increase food production in regions like Ghana which are doubly disadvantaged as poor, and situated in the lower latitudes where agricultural impacts of global environmental change are projected to be felt most. Using the FSTZ as a case study. this research explores the potential of the traditional farming methods to increase production vis à vis the trends of the main environmental variables - rainfall, temperature, soil, and vegetation cover-that influence agricultural productivity in the FSTZ Since 1930 the average rainfall for the region has declined by 217 mm while the average temperature has increased by l.l°C since 1953. Soil quality has not degraded significantly from their original conditions though with continuous cropping displacing the fallow system of farming, there is a felt need for fertilizers. Shortening fallow periods are causing the displacement of the forest vegetation with a drought resistant, fire climax vegetation of an impoverished nature. The capacity of the farming system to alleviate the impact of these trends is discussed within the context of famer-environment interaction. With increasing pressure on agricultural land due to rapid population growth rate, farmers have intensified land use by changing land use patterns, and adopting new farm management strategies. Farmers have also embarked on off-farm activities, and education of their children for off off-farm jobs to rninimize the pressure on agricultural land. Contrary to expectation, food production in the FSZ is increasing in the face of a rapidly growing population. Sixty-ive percent of the farmers interviewed think they are better-off as a result of these responses. Though the adaptations strategies are saddled with formidable ecological and socio-economic problems, it is argued that food production in the region could increase further if agricultural planners build on, and complement the local technologies which have been selected by farmers’ with appropriate modem technologies. Further, because socio-economic exigencies also influence farmer- environment interaction, farmers’ responses to the environmental challenges must be expanded beyond fan level strategies and be placed within the broad socio-economic context which mediates agricultural adaptation to changes in the environment.


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