Indigenous knowledge and adaptations to climate change: a case study of agriculture in selected communities in the Bosomtwe District

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Climate change impacts are being felt the world over and most vulnerable to these impacts are the indigenous people whose source of livelihood depends solely on natural resources especially farmers and fisher folks. The agricultural sector is highly threatened as the EPA of Ghana predicts that the country would lose about 81.3 square metres of arable land every year and yields of maize and other cereal crops will reduce by 7 percent by 2050 and this could result in unsustainable livelihoods. This creates an urgency to know how the most vulnerable people, on whom the whole country depends for food, adapt to the changes they experience using their local knowledge. The study therefore seeks to investigate and document the knowledge and adaptations of indigenous people to climate change impacts in order to draw support from the Ministry of Food and Agriculture- Bosomtwe and the Bosomtwe District Assembly to their needs and challenges. This will contribute to reducing their vulnerabilities, help build their resilience and help achieve sustainable livelihoods. Two farming communities; Nyameani and Yaase, and two fishing communities: Abono and Adwafo were purposively selected for the study. Indigenes within these communities were reached through the snowballing sampling technique and they provided the needed primary data through the use of structure interviews and focus group discussions. Staff of MoFA also provided information through a face-to-face interview. Secondary data included meteorological data, literature from books, journals, articles and reports. Quantitative data were analyzed with SPSS-version 16 and Microsoft Excel, and meteorological data was plotted into graphs using Repeated Running Median. Results were presented in tables, graphs and charts. Qualitative data v were however analyzed through a logical reasoning process and results were presented as written descriptions and reports. The study revealed that knowledge on climate change exhibited by farmers and fisher folks were based mainly on changes in temperature and rainfall patterns within their communities. Though their views were not always in line with meteorological data, these changes impacted negatively on their occupations and worsened their standard of living. As such majority (82 percent) of these respondents were engaged in other sources of livelihood that were not nature-dependent such as trading, hairdressing, driving and tailoring to support their incomes. Nonetheless, these farmers and fisher folks adopted methods such as cultivating different crops, practicing irrigation, using agrochemicals, using more fishing nets and spending more fishing hours as means of adapting to climate change impacts on their respective occupations. Unfortunately their adaptation methods are not sustainable and have minimal support from MoFA as the institutio n itself is inadequately equipped to support such indigenous adaptation strategies. In order to improve these adaptation methods and make them sustainable, the study suggests that MoFA researches and documents all methods practiced by these farmers and fisher folks, assess them critically and give advice on the pros and cons related to each and how to get the best out of each method. Also, that central government should strengthen MoFA’s capacity to provide the needed support for all indigenous adaptations within the district
A thesis submitted to the Department of Geography and Rural Development, Kwame Nkrumah University Of Science and Technology in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the Degree of Master of Philosophy Department of Geography and Rural Development Faculty of Social Sciences College of Humanities and Social Sciences.