Smallholder farmers’ perspectives of agroecological farming practices in Ghana
Jones Abrefa Danquah
University of Cape Coast, Department of Geography and Regional Planning, Faculty of Social Sciences, College of Hmuanities and Legal Studies, Ghana
The concerns about diminishing trends and degrading ecological features and their roles in productive smallholder agriculture have been raised in recent years. In Ghana, the use of agroecological principles embodies indigenous knowledge and other conventional methods. The dry semideciduous ecological zone is noted for its extreme climatic variability and recurrent annual bushfire due to its geographic location in the country. However, this ecological zone is considered one of the major food baskets of the country. Due to the harsh effects of these environmental stressors, the smallholder farmers in this ecological zone have developed a body of indigenous knowledge which has evolved in tandem with environmental conditions over millennia. This knowledge can be augmented with conventional farming practices to enhance the adaptive capacity of these farmers in this ecological zone. The main objectives of the study were to assess smallholder farmers’ perspectives of ecological farming practices; and to identify indigenous agroecological knowledge that is compatible with conventional farming practices, and their coping strategies to draught. The study employed a mixed-method experimental design. 600 smallholder farmers were randomly selected from 8 farming communities in two districts(Wenchi and Techiman) of the Bono-East Region of Ghana. Semi-structured questionnaires were administered to elicit information and generate both qualitative and quantitative data on smallholder farmers’ perspectives and indigenous knowledge of agroecological farming practices. Most of the questions were in Likert scale format estimation. To test for the level of reliability of the questions Cronbach alpha was used. The results indicated that the farmers view the use of herbicides as inimical to the conservation of snails and cocoyam. The agroecological practices identified include the use of bush fallowing and avoidance of litter burning to restore fertility, increasing diversity of traditional crop varieties as insurance against crop failure and pest attacks as well as the creation of mounds to conserve moisture. The planting of early maturing crops and the use of drought-tolerant varieties of crops to safeguard against drought. In conclusion, incorporating some of these traditional farming practices into conventional agriculture will ensure the ecological integrity of smallholder farming systems.
Keywords: Agroecology, climate-smart, indigenous knowledge, smallholder farmers
Contact Address: Jones Abrefa Danquah, University of Cape Coast, Department of Geography and Regional Planning, Faculty of Social Sciences, College of Hmuanities and Legal Studies, Private mailbag, Cape coast, Ghana, e-mail: jones.danquahucc.edu.gh