Right to Sustainable Agriculture, Food and Environment
SODIA’s work has been focused on the Brong-Ahafo Region. The region has a tropical climate and a double maxima rainfall pattern. Rainfall ranges from an average of 1000 mm in the northern parts to 1400 mm in the southern parts.
The region is the third largest producer of cocoa in the country and attracts a lot of settler farmers from the three northern regions of Ghana. It has indeed one of the largest cocoa producing areas in the country in the Ahafo area. Most cashew products in Ghana are produced in the region, notably in Tain, Banda, Jaman North and South, Wenchi, Atebubu, Nkoranza, Techiman, Kintampo, Asunafo North and South Districts. Timber is also an important forest product, produced mainly in the Ahafo area around Mim, Goaso and Acherensua. Other cash crops grown in the forest area are coffee, rubber and tobacco. The main food crops are maize, cassava, plantain, yam, cocoyam, rice and tomatoes. Yam production is high in the guinea savannah zone around Techiman, Kintampo, Nkoranza, Yeji, Prang and Kwame Danso.
Agriculture in the region is mainly rain-fed therefore the growth of this sector depends on the vagaries of the weather. This makes agriculture unpredictable and risky. Even though it is clear the water stress due to climate change effects calls for the establishment of irrigation facilities in the region to promote agriculture, this has not been pursued vigorously by the government. An analysis of the yield of the major food crops between 2005 and 2009 shows a downward trend, with the exception of plantain. For instance cassava recorded a drop in yield from 15mt/hectare in 2005 to 13.57 mt/hectare in 2009 while yam had a reduction from 14.78mt/ hectare in 2005 to13.82mt per hectare in 2009. This has been attributed to a number of reasons including the depletion of soil fertility and inadequate amounts and unfavourable distribution of rainfall engendering water stress on crops as a result of climate change (MoFA, 2009).
The water stress seems to be affecting cereals like maize worst of all. For example, maize accounted for 32.1% of total area of land cultivated in 2009 and contributed only 6.5% of total food production in the region. This is in contrast to the contributions of cassava and yam to total food production in the region of 37.8% and 28.0% respectively when 26.0% and 28.0% respectively of total land cultivated area were committed to these crops in the same year (MoFA, 2009).
The agricultural sector in the region is also dominated by smallholder/subsistence farming and the use of outmoded tools and methods. They constitute about 90-95% of the number of farmers in the region (MoFA, 2009). Other challenges militating against the growth of agriculture in the region and limiting its contribution to food security and poverty reduction of the people include low agricultural extension service coverage (1:3,000); low interest of the youth in agriculture; inadequate market access and value addition to farm produce due to low investment in agro-processing and agri-business; environmental degradation, as a result of deforestation, bush fires, illegal small scale mining and misuse of agro-chemicals; and the issue of Fulani herdsmen destroying crops.
SODIA would promote the poor and marginalized right to sustainable agriculture, food and environment by working with farmers for timely and quality agricultural extension services and support from the government policies and programmes to improve food security.
Current Projects SODIA is carrying out in this area involves;
1. Partnership with Actionaid Brong-Ahafo Regional Local Rights Programme as a core Partner in DA (13) Tain to promote climate resilient sustainable agriculture (CRSA) and women secured access to and control over Land and other productive resources
2. Partnership with the Greenwich University and the University of Abeokuta with funding from Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation on the Cassava Adding Value for Africa Project II
3. Partnership with Greenwich University(Natural Resources Institute) with funding from the European Union on the Gains from Roots and Tuber Crops Project been implemented with Partners in the South ( Ghana, Nigeria, Vietnam, Thailand) and North( UK, Germany, Netherlands, Belgium)