PRIMUKYEAE, Ghana — A new eight-month radio program focused on helping farmers adapt to climate change began in this agricultural community last month.
The program was created through an international partnership between the Ghanaian Ministry of Food and Agriculture, the German Technical Cooperation and Farm Radio International (FRI). It will broadcast throughout the district of Kintampo, in Brong Ahafo, a region of Ghana that accounts for 75 percent of the country’s agricultural production. The program focuses on providing climate-smart agriculture tips, market information and weather forecasts.
FRI will draw on its experience with a similar program, CHANGE (Climate Change Adaptation in Northern Ghana Enhanced), to support farmers cultivating fields along the savannah’s edge.
“Farmers need to be supported in terms of how they will adapt to climate change in this particular zone,” said Benjamin Fiafor, FRI’s regional field manager in Ghana, referring to the semi-arid land on the savannah’s edge that Primukyeae occupies.
Each week, the FRI program will address topics of immediate importance, providing continual instruction to farmers throughout an entire growing season. In the last weeks of April, farmers in the Brong Ahafo region were preparing their land and selecting seeds.
“If you have climate change, how do you select the land you want to cultivate, the seeds you want to grow?” Fiafor asked. “How do you prepare your land to conserve water?”
The radio show’s launch comes on the heels of the most recent report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which recently highlighted the threat of climate change to global food security. According to the report, shifting weather patterns that result from a warming climate are already having an adverse effect on yields.
The IPCC report highlights the vulnerability of farmers in transitional zones, noting the “risk of loss of rural livelihoods and income of rural residents due to … reduced agricultural productivity, as well as risk of food insecurity, particularly for farmers and pastoralists with minimal capital in semi-arid regions.”
Countries in sub-Saharan Africa are particularly susceptible to climate change effects because of their reliance on rain-fed agriculture and the relatively large percentage of the population engaged in subsistence farming. While increasing the risk of drought and crop failure, rising heat and rainfall variability can also heighten pest problems and lead to land degradation. Half of Ghana’s population practices farming and, as such, is vulnerable to these pressures.
To ensure maximum reach, FRI is encouraging women farmers to organize listener groups. Each group will receive a radio set capable of recording and playing back the program. Based on research into listening habits, FRI discovered that women face some challenges in getting access to radio.
FRI will meet with the groups to get feedback and improve coverage throughout the eight-month program. Program producers will work to continually improve their programming and to incorporate voices from the field.
“Farm Radio International is different from conventional radio because it is very interactive,” Fiafor said.