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Understanding the Nexus between Climate Change, the Shift in Land Use toward Cashew Production and Rural Food Security in Ghana; the Experiences of Farmers in the Transition Zone of Ghana

Victor Adjei, Moses Ackah Anlimachie, Eunice Elorm Ativi

Abstract: This study summarises the findings from a study investigating rural small-holding farmers’ experiences on the shift from food crop to cashew in the forest/savanna transitional agro-ecological zone of Ghana and its impact on rural food security. Using a mix method approach, the study sampled the views of 400 farmers from 9 farming communities in the Wenchi Municipality of Ghana via questionnaire and semi-structured interview and collated statistical data on crop production to trace the nexus between climate change, agrarian land-use decisions and food security. The study found evidence of increasing shift from food crop to cashew production. This was evidenced by increasing cashew cultivation and cashew output and decreasing total land acreage for food crops and increasing food insecurity of farmers. The findings revealed that about 71% of farmers had expanded their cashew farms and another 41.0% have turned their food crops’ lands to cashew production. Besides cashew production, (57.0%) has overtaken the traditional food crop -maize (25.5%) production in terms of output. Instructively, the study found that the main motivation for the shift from food crop to cashew production is not only to maximise income in bulk, but also climate change adaptability issues. The study found that the cashew crop is resilient in adapting to the changing climate and less prone to pests’ invasion compared to maize in the study District. The study found that food security among rural folks had been seriously compromised by the conversion of farmlands from food crop to cashew farming. Although, the study found that female farmers have higher consciousness to food security yet less motivated to shift from food crop to cashew crop production compared to men. Worryingly, females are the hardest hit group because of their low ownership of or access to farmlands and low voices of women in farmland use decision making in a men-dominant rural extended family setting of the study District. The study concludes that climate change adaptability concern has introduced a new set of risks including crop failure due to changing rainfall pattern and increasing incidence of pest invasions forcing the rural folks to compromise innovative indigenous farming focus and practices that have helped them to navigate extreme food poverty. This study, therefore, argues for improved food crop seeds tailored to the specific climatic context and innovative farming practices that beef-up small-holding farmers’ capacity to navigate climate change to continually produce food crop to ensure rural food security and sustainability.
Keywords: food security / land use / cashew / decision making / shift / food crop / climate / crop production / use decision

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