Tuesday 13 June 2017

Residue Retention Practises for Carbon Sequestration and Climate Change Mitigation in Ghana.

By Dr. (Mrs.) Owoade, Folasade Mary, Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, Ogbomoso, Oyo State, Nigeria.

Host Institution: Department of Soil Science, University of Ghana, Legon, Ghana

The relationship between climate change and soil carbon resources is of key concern to human society. The adverse effect of climatic warming on the global soil environment has emerged and aroused extensive attention in the world. Soils are intricately linked to the atmospheric–climate system through the carbon, nitrogen, and hydrologic cycles. Altered climate will therefore have an effect on soil processes and properties, and at the same time, the soils themselves will have an effect on climate. With proper management, soils have the potential to sequester carbon from the atmosphere. Soil’s usefulness as a carbon sink and drawdown solution is essential, based on global estimates of historic carbon stocks and projections of rising emissions. To ensure safe levels of atmospheric carbon, and to mitigate climate change, efforts to sequester carbon will be necessary.

Residue retention practices for carbon sequestration and climate change mitigation. 

Land use conversion and agricultural activities have been reported to both directly and indirectly produce 30% of total anthropogenic emissions. Therefore, conversion to a restorative land use and adoption of best management practices must be integral to any strategy of mitigating climate change. In Ghana and Africa at large, many households depend on land for their livelihoods, mostly through agriculture. Research has shown that low soil fertility is often the major constraint to crop production. Crop residues are not only a primary substrate for the replenishment of soil organic matter, but they also serve as an important source of plant nutrients. Crop residues play important roles in nutrient recycling, erosion control, and the maintenance of soil physical and chemical properties when left in the field after harvest. Many possibilities for using crop residues are ignored by farmers and not many attempt to recover from the field, store and improve the quality of these valuable resources.

Dr. (Mrs) Owoade interviewing a female maize farmer at Kotokoli village, Yilo Krobo, Eastern Region, Ghana.

Against the above background, this study attempts to provide answers to the following questions:

  • What are the management requirements to replenish the carbon stocks of the soil in Greater Accra and Eastern regions of Ghana?
  • What is the socio-economic framework within which small-scale land users could be encouraged to participate in soil carbon sequestration schemes for climate change mitigation in the area?

The carbon sequestration potential of tropical land use systems has been a subject of interest over the last decade. Estimation by the IPCC shows that a tropical forest holds about 135 t CO2e / ha in the vegetative biomass and 138 t CO2e / ha in the soil to a depth of 1m. In the case of tropical savannah, biomass carbon and soil carbon constitutes 33 and 130 t/ ha respectively. However, rapid biomass carbon loss occurs in the tropics, due to deforestation and vegetation burning. Since the turn of the last century, Africa has lost about 85% of its original forest. Nigeria has lost 4% of its forest per year while Ghana has lost 2% per year. This loss constitutes not only a loss of the photosynthetic carbon sink but also burning releases the biomas CO2 back into atmosphere. Soil degradation, also results in large CO2 emissions. Soil degradation is rapid in the tropics due to high temperature and adequate soil moisture conditions. Estimates of soil carbon storage and losses are limited in the humid and semi- humid zones of Nigeria and Ghana. Furthermore, the potential for carbon storage, loss and replenishment would depend on factors such as soil texture, residue management, land use and cropping practices among others.

Dr. (Mrs) Owoade educating farmers on residue retention for carbon sequestration in Asesewa, Upper Manya, Eastern Region, Ghana

Residue retention practices of some farmers (plantations and orchards, forests, maize and cassava farmers) with different tillage and soil management practices in Greater Accra and Eastern regions of Ghana were examined and sought to assess their willingness to adopt residue retention practices.

Dr. (Mrs) Owoade interviewing farmers before soil sampling at New Somanya, Yilo Krobo, Eastern Region, Ghana

Farmers, representing a general population sample of the Greater Accra and Eastern regions of Ghana were interviewed and soil samples collected from their farms. The survey asked a representative sample about their socio-economic characteristics, physiography, soil management practices, residue retention practices, and their willingness to participate in activities that would curb global warming.

About 30% of the respondents use inorganic fertilizer, 5% use manure, but the most common tillage practice among the farmers is slash and burn. The majority of the respondents believe that residue retention practices will increase their production cost and labour and therefore need government support to adopt any residue retention practices for climate mitigation purposes. Only 20% are willing to adopt this practice free of charge while 80% were willing if only there is external funding and until they see the benefits.
Small–scale land users should be encouraged to participate in soil carbon sequestration schemes for climate change mitigation. Stakeholders, policy makers, NGO’s and decision makers should design and implement the most feasible, cost effective and beneficial technique for exploration and possible adoption in the future. It is evident that farmers need enlightment and government support for a residue retention programme in Ghana.

Dr. (Mrs) Owoade with extension officers at Deidenma-Pokuase, Ga-West Municipal, Greater Accra, Ghana

Dr. (Mrs) Owoade, with Extension Officer, Research  and some farmers in Asesewa, Upper Manya, Eastern Region.

Monday 5 June 2017

Research Uptake Discourse on Women, Entrepreneurship Development and Climate Change

By Dr Catherine Akinbami, Obafemi Awolowo University, Nigeria

In order to have a holistic approach, the economic, social and environmental issues which are interdependent aspects of a society must be considered within a unified framework so as to promote human welfare, especially in the rural areas. The consideration of the social dimension of climate change is important in order to ensure that human rights are not compromised as climate change impacts the fundamental security, lives, health and livelihoods of people, especially the most vulnerable. Also, greater consideration of the social dimension can enhance the effectiveness of mitigation and adaptation as well as the policies needed to drive them.  

Dr Akinbami in front of the event banner

On the 20th of April, stakeholders gathered at the Centre for Sustainable Development, University of Ibadan, Nigeria for a Policy Discourse on women, entrepreneurship development and climate change. The stakeholders comprised of policy makers from ministries (such as Women Affairs, Environment and Habitat, Agriculture and Natural Resources) working directly with women, scholars from academia, Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), media practitioners and community leaders. The policy discourse was a means to disseminate my CIRCLE research findings to the policy makers and intimate them on the challenges facing the rural women livelihoods as a result of the impact of climate change, possible entrepreneurship options in climate change, challenges and the adaptive strategies to improve the socio-economic wellbeing of the women in rural areas. The event was an avenue to bring together policy makers and researchers in understanding the need for synergy. It also helped to present reality of the rural women to the policy maker as their livelihoods are being affected by climate change, in order to make them start taking necessary steps in addressing the problems.

Panellists during the discussion session

Participants at the event

The Keynote address titled ‘Bridging the Gap between Research and the Policy-making Process’ was delivered by a seasoned scientist, climate change expert, who is a fellow of the  Nigerian Academy of Science and a Pro-chancellor of a Private University in Nigeria, Prof, A.M.A. Imevbore; Prof (Mrs) J.E. Olawoye’s (Department of Rural Sociology, UI - My supervisor) presentation on ‘Women Development and Climate Change: Adaptation Strategies’ was delivered by Prof (Mrs) E.T. Owoaje, (Department of Community Health, UI) who also chaired the panel discussion. The programme was anchored by a climate change and energy management expert, Prof. J-F.K. Akinbami. Other distinguished participants came from the Ministry of Women Affairs, the Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources, the Ministry of Environment and Habitat; various NGOs, representatives from local government. Altogether, 32 participants were in attendance, including some students.
The round table discussions focused on the following questions:
  • What NGOs can do to assist in this era of climate change to aid women’s aclimitization
  • What can be done in term of modification?
  • What can be done about using hybrid seeds especially for women in primary production?
  • Based on the research discourse, what can be adopted; and how can gender issues be addressed based on climate change?
  • The next steps the researcher will take to actually affect the lives of the rural women
The keynote speaker also brought out reasons why the relationship between policy and research is not working out.

Why is Research Ignored?
According to Stone, research is often ignored because of the following reasons:
  • inadequate supply of, and access to, relevant information
  • researchers’ poor comprehension of policy process and unrealistic recommendations
  • ineffective communication of research
  • ignorance or anti-intellectualism of politicians or bureaucrats
  • inadequate capacity among policy makers
  • politicisation of research, using it selectively to legitimise decisions
  • gaps in understanding between researchers, policy makers and public
  • time lag between dissemination of research and impact on policy

Other key points raised during the course of the event included:

  • ‘It is a wonderful topic that concerns all of us, as it is going to be of benefits especially to us, the policy makers’. -  Chairman  Opening speech
  • ‘The facilitators in this forum will enlighten and broaden our minds on the issue that the researcher has researched into and it will remind us (policy makers) the need to do something fast so that the women who are in the vulnerable group would be helped’. - Chairman Opening speech
  • ‘This programme is timely and in the right direction. The Ministry has been looking for who to help the women in the field of climate change’. Chairman
  • ‘Women are more in farming, but the challenges are enormous.  As a matter of fact, the women appear to be on their own with no institutional or government support’. NGO Representative
  • ‘It must be noted that research must be aimed at improving the Human Development Index (HDI) if not it will remain purely an academic exercise’. Keynote speaker
A fact sheet on Women, Entrepreneurship Development and Climate Change was developed in both English and Yoruba languages and a radio presentation on Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (Amuludun FM 99.1) was also made in Yoruba language which is the indigenous language of the study areas. The purpose was to create awareness about the impact of climate change and educate women in general, and rural women in particular, about the challenges and entrepreneurship opportunities in climate change impact.

A major follow-on activity under development from the discussions is for the women in the communities to initiate a kick-off project which is climate smart. This will open and expose the women to the opportunities in climate change challenges and the use of resources around them. The project will also accommodate provision of some equipment that will assist to practice livelihoods in an ecofriendly manner and training which will be an avenue to train on the use of the equipment, hybrid seedlings and other entrepreneurship options. Outcome of the proposed project: help to engage the women more in various entrepreneurial activities; reducing their idle moments and poverty rate. Above all, this proposed ‘Research Uptake Climate Entrepreneurship Project’ will be a model for policy makers to adopt in rural areas.

I use this medium to acknowledge the Department for International Development (DfID) and Association of commonwealth Universities (ACU) under the Climate Impact Research Capacity and Leadership Enhancement (CIRCLE) programme for funding and necessary support.

For further details on the discussions that took place during the event or the proposed follow-on project, please contact Dr Akinbami at Obafemi Awolowo University, Nigeria.