Notes to broadcasters
There is often limited information available on the risks of climate change and on strategies for adapting to it, especially for small-scale farmers. It can be difficult for farmers to find reliable information about how a changing climate will impact their crops and livestock. It can be even more difficult to learn about effective strategies to adapt to the changing weather conditions.
In 2018-2019, the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and the German Corporation for International Cooperation (GIZ) conducted a study in Ghana on the predicted trends for temperature and precipitation, future water availability, and the country’s suitability to grow crops. Based on their findings, researchers identified adaptation strategies for farmers that are feasible, cost-effective, and suitable for specific local conditions.
The hosts in this script are fictional but the content is based on a real study conducted in Ghana. You could use the information in the script to inspire a radio program on adapting to climate change in any country. Speak to local researchers about the local impacts of climate change and about what farmers can do to adapt and prepare.
Some of the questions you might ask an expert are:
1. What does climate change mean for farmers in this area?
2. How will climate change affect crop and livestock production?
3. How will climate change affect food security?
4. What should farmers do to prepare?
Estimated duration of the script with intro and extro: 15 minutes.
We will be discussing a scientific study that was conducted in Ghana by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and the German Corporation for International Cooperation or GIZ. The study looked at the impact of climate change and made recommendations on what farmers can do to prepare and adapt.
That’s why the Ministry of Food and Agriculture commissioned a study to enable researchers to determine adaptation strategies that can help farmers prevent serious losses and damage to livelihoods, the economy, and the environment.
The study predicts that northern Ghana will experience the highest temperature increase in the country—up to 2.5 degrees Celsius above current temperatures by 2050. Rainfall is also expected to be more erratic throughout the country, and is expected to increase slightly in the north and decrease in the south until about mid-century.
An important thing for farmers to know is that climate change will bring an increase in extreme weather events. In Ghana, that means extremely hot temperatures, combined with heavy and prolonged rainfall or prolonged drought, depending on the region. But climate change also means gradual changes in weather and climate over time. The relative slowness of these changes can make it difficult for farmers to identify exactly how and when they start to feel the effects of climate change.
The study recommended five ways that farmers can adapt to climate change. There are a number of other useful adaptation strategies, but the study made these recommendations based on stakeholder interest and analysis. The five strategies include: improved post-harvest management activities, using irrigation, harvesting rainwater, crop insurance, and using improved crop varieties. Some of these strategies are easier to adopt than others, and the study suggests that a combination of strategies is most effective.
Over the course of today’s program, we’re going to discuss two of these strategies: post-harvest management activities and rainwater harvesting. We will discuss the problems these strategies are meant to address, and how farmers, government bodies, and others can help farmers adopt them. Stay tuned.
30-second musical break
On today’s program, we will be discussing two of the five recommendations from this study: improved post-harvest management activities, and rainwater harvesting. We chose to discuss these two in particular because they are generally easier to implement on small-scale farms across the country. These strategies also require less support from the public or private sectors than crop insurance schemes and improved seeds—which means that farmers can start making changes right away.
Let’s start by discussing improved post-harvest management. I will ask my co-host a few questions and she will provide answers based on some of the findings from the study. Please, Grace, can you start by explaining what post-harvest management means?
PICS bags—or Purdue Improved Crop Storage bags—are airtight storage bags that have been proven to reduce insect and rodent infestation while maintaining seed quality and seeds’ ability to germinate. Compared to standard woven sacks, PICS bags better maintain the weight of the grain and prevent contamination from insects, pests, and diseases, including contaminants such as aflatoxin.
Rainwater harvesting is an effective way to store water that can then be used for irrigation at critical times in the growing period. It’s also considerably cheaper than building the infrastructure needed to use groundwater for irrigation.
Rainwater harvesting is particularly effective for small-scale horticulture production. It would allow farmers to diversify their income by growing a variety of crops for sale, crops that are also full of vitamins and nutrients that contribute to a healthy diet.
Climate: The day-to-day weather conditions that prevail over a long period of time.
Irrigation: The application of controlled amounts of water to help grow agricultural crops, maintain landscapes, and revegetate disturbed soils in dry areas and during periods of low rainfall.
Rainwater harvesting: The process of collecting rainwater in tanks or reservoirs to use on crops or for other purposes.
Weather: The atmospheric conditions in a particular place at a given time.
Contributed by: Maxine Betteridge-Moes, Agricultural Knowledge Management Advisor
Reviewed by: Christoph Gornott and Lisa Murken, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK)
Murken, Lisa, et al. “Climate risk analysis for identifying and weighing adaptation Strategies in Ghana’s agriculture sector.” Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, 2019. https://www.pik-potsdam.de/research/climate-resilience/projects/project-pages/agrica