A climate smart agriculture project aimed at increasing smallholder women farmers’ access to agriculture extension services to increase food productivity and mitigate climate change challenges has begun in the Bawku West District of the Upper East Region.
The one-year pilot project, to be implemented in eleven selected communities seeks to assist rural poor women who rely on farmlands for their livelihoods to have access to productive farmlands and adopt best farming technologies in response to the changing climate, to promote sustainable farming for improved yields.
The project dubbed, “Rural Extension Linkages for Enhanced Food Security (RELIEFS) for smallholder women farmers in Upper East Region, Ghana Project” is being implemented by the Ingraining Development for Empowerment and Advancement of Society (IDEAS Ghana), a Non-Governmental Organisation with funding support from the Africa Action, Germany.
As part of the implementation of the project, 10 Agriculture Extension Agents and eleven women volunteers would be trained to establish climate smart farmer field demonstrations to help provide demand driven extension services to farmers especially women, to increase food production and scale up climate smart agriculture practices to other districts.
Speaking at the training workshop in Zebilla, Dr Joseph Ayembilla, Director of IDEAS Ghana, noted that the changing climate and its effects continued to raise global concerns with increasing temperatures, erratic rainfall pattern, shifting agro ecosystems, emerging diseases and pests on crops and livestock, extreme weather conditions and reduction in crop yields, affecting livelihoods among rural poor communities.
To combat the climate change menace, he said, there was the need for an integrated approach to sustainably manage croplands, livestock, forests, and fisheries and to train more female extension officers as means of enhancing food and nutrition security.
“Therefore, embarking on climate-smart agriculture is no longer a luxury and with a gender lens would contribute to transition Upper East Region to a low-carbon economy through women’s climate smart agriculture skills and knowledge enhancement.
“Innovations using climate-smart agriculture practices can play a critical role in improving food and nutrition security and for this reason, women critical role in food ecosystem- as producers, farm labourers, processors, and traders are inevitable,” he added.
Dr Ayembilla explained that IDEAS Ghana would identify technical gaps in staff of the department of agriculture and other relevant stakeholders and build their capacities to provide appropriate climate smart agriculture interventions to farmers.
“The project theory of change is, if smallholder women farmers’ knowledge and skills in Climate smart agriculture are enhanced and are supported by timely rural extension services and they can practice climate smart agriculture on their farms and increase food production all year-round, then, they will attain food and nutrition security thereby contributing to the reduction in severe hunger and malnutrition which is advocated for in the Sustainable Development Goals one and two.
“IDEAS Ghana will facilitate with a basket of innovations on; maize, sorghum, millet, soybean and upland rice, cowpea, groundnut, orange flesh sweet potato, Frafra potato, local leafy vegetables like, Amaranthus, kenaf, bean, onion production, storage, preservation, packaging, consumption, and marketing,” he added.
Mr Elias Atimbire, the Bawku West District Director of the Department of Agriculture, commended the project and noted that it would boost the directorate’s efforts in providing extension services to smallholder farmers especially women in the district.
He said the district did not have women extension agents and that made it difficult for women farmers to access extension services to improve production.