Key challenges in smallholder cereal-legume-livestock systems in the Guinea savanna of Ghana
Key challenges in smallholder cereal-legume-livestock systems in the Guinea savanna of Ghana S.S. Buah (CSIR-SARI) and N. Karbo (CSIR-ARI)Africa RISING West Africa Review and Planning Meeting Tamale, Ghana, 23-25 October 2012
IntroductionRapid transformation of agricultural practices innorthern Ghana are due to: Rapid human population growth Increased pressure on land Increase in agricultural intensification Climate change Increase incidence and severity of diseases, pests and drought.
Introduction Technologies that can enhance productivity need to be developed. At the same time, the natural resource base must be preserved. Thus, an integrated crop-livestock farming system represents a key solution for enhancing livestock production and safeguarding the environment through prudent and efficient resource use.
Major challenges to agricultural production inthe Guinea savanna of Ghana Poor soil fertility and water availability Land use planning conflicts for integrated sytems Pests and diseases of crops and livestock Parasitic weeds such as Striga
Major challenges to agricultural production in theGuinea savanna of Ghana Credit and inputs Drought Competition between crops and livestock for resources Weak institutional mechanisms
Soil fertility and Water Traditional farming systems are breaking down under human and livestock population pressure. Current fallow periods are not long enough to replace exported nutrients Soil organic matter is very low Nitrogen (N) is the most limiting nutrient. Phosphorus (P) is the second most limiting nutrient
•Although mineral fertilizers can be used to replace nutrient losses, socio-economic constraints such as high prices and lack of credit limit their use.•Smallholder farmers commonly apply too little fertilizer, either because they cannot afford more or because fertilizers are not readily available. Soil fertility and Water Smallholder farmers apply too little fertilizer, either because they cannot afford more or because fertilizers are not readily available. Both mineral fertilizers and organic inputs are required to improve soil fertility
•Although mineral fertilizers can be used to replace nutrient losses, socio-economic constraints such as high prices and lack of credit limit their use.•Smallholder farmers commonly apply too little fertilizer, either because they cannot afford more or because fertilizers are not readily available. Soil fertility and Water Integrated crop-livestock systems could improve soil fertility in short fallow or continuous cropping systems. Increased use of organic and inorganic fertilizers together with diversification of cropping to include legumes are important tools in restoring or sustaining soil fertility in northern Ghana
•Although mineral fertilizers can be used to replace nutrient losses, socio-economic constraints such as high prices and lack of credit limit their use.•Smallholder farmers commonly apply too little fertilizer, either because they cannot afford more or because fertilizers are not readily available. Soil fertility and Water Problems with availability of water for all year round use for crop and livestock production Bush fires Socio-cultural problems
Land use planning conflicts Crop production vs. grazing land for livestock Urbanization Bush fires Policy void
Pests and diseases Insect pests are a major constraint to legume production, particularly cowpea. Commercial production of cowpea in northern Ghana is probably not feasible without the using insecticide. Major insects of cowpea are flower thrips [Megalurothrips sjostedti (Trybom)], the legume pod borer (Maruca vitrata) and a range of pod-feeding bugs
Pests and diseases Groundnut yields are traditionally low, due to several constraints including pests and diseases. Aphids (Aphis craccivora) are a serious pest as well as a vector of virus diseases, such as the rosette Major biotic constraint to groundnut production include groundnut rosette disease (GRD), early leaf spot (ELS), late leaf spot (LLS) and rust
Pests and diseases Livestock diseases retard the introduction of more productive breeding stock and new technologies and creating an adverse impact on crop-livestock integration The most important diseases are vector- transmitted parasitic and viral diseases.
Pests and diseases Integrated pest management (IPM) involves - integrating biological control, - cultural practices such as modified planting date, - disease- and pest-tolerant cultivars, - and pesticides where necessary This can increase the effectiveness of pest control and reduce overuse of pesticides.
Parasitic weeds Striga hermonthica on cereals Striga gesnerioides on legumes Both parasites are difficult to control because they produce large numbers of seeds and up to 75% of the crop damage is done before they emerge from the ground.
Parasitic weeds The increasing incidence of striga has been attributed to- poor soil fertility and structure- intensification of land use through continuous cultivation and- an expansion of cereal production. Striga damage can be reduced by growing tolerant or resistant varieties
Parasitic weeds Striga damage can be reduced by planting trap crops such as groundnut, soybean, cowpea and sesame that stimulate striga seed to germinate without providing a viable host Coping strategies of farmers include hand- roguing, application of inorganic fertilizer, manures, compost and crop rotations.
Credit and inputs Inadequate credit Weak seed systems Lack of implements for mechanization High cost and accessibility of fertilizers Feeds and markets Appropriate technologies
Drought Trend of decreasing rainfall and increasing temperatures Probability of drought is highest at the start and end of the growing season, Timing of deficits is unpredictable
Drought Several strategies have been developed for the conservation of soil and water to maintain productivity including- rainwater harvesting,- live barriers,- supplementary irrigation,- minimum tillage,- mulching,- bunded basins, and- tree planting
Competition between crops and livestockfor resources In smallholder farming systems there are conflicts over the use of the precious crop residues for: • soil cover and organic matter replenishment • livestock feed • housing, • craft materials and • energy source.
Competition between crops and livestock for resources Crop residues provide highly valued fodder for livestock in northern Ghana, particularly in the drier Upper East region. Feeding livestock, especially during the dry season is a major constraint to livestock development in northern Ghana
Stover removed and stored for fencing, fuel or roofing Stover removed and used for weaving baskets Stover removed and stored for feeding livestock Stover removed and used for feeding livestock
Integrating crop and livestock production offers ways to increase production whileprotecting the environment.
Cultural and economic value of livestock in in theGuinea savanna zone As an investment and insurance against risk, Used for traction Provide meat, milk, hides, and manure, Used as means of transport. can be converted into prompt cash in times of need. Used for ceremonies, paying bride price and source of savings
Advantages of the integrated system livestock and crops are produced within a coordinated framework. The waste products of one component serve as a resource for the other. Manure is used to enhance crop production; crop residues and by-products feed the animals, supplementing often inadequate feed supplies, thus contributing to improved animal nutrition and productivity.
Advantages of the integrated system Maintenance of the soil productive capacity; Product diversification and higher yields and quality at less cost; Reduction of crop pests (less pesticide use and better soil erosion control); and Reduction of rural urban migration and the creation of new job opportunities in rural areas.
Weak institutional mechanisms Weak linkages among research –extension and farmers Poor communications among farmers, extension agents, and researchers leading to low adoption of promising technologies generated by research. Extension workers do not possess adequate knowledge in all crop and livestock production issues. Weak research and extension messages towards systems
Weak institutional mechanisms Attitudes Mindsets Policy issues Institutional and technical concepts Other projects are competing for the AEA’s time
Conclusions Use of productive but more sustainable management practices can help resolve these production problems. With the majority of the population in Ghana dependant on agriculture for their livelihoods, technological options that increase agricultural productivity and help to buffer farmers against the negative impacts of climate related and other constraints should be promoted.
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