Postcards from the field: Helping Ghana’s small-scale farmers fight climate change

Photo: Osmal Fulailu interviews a cocoa farmer.

By: Margaret Arwari

4 November 2020

Osman Fulailu is a field enumerator with the Forest and Horticultural Crops Research Center (FOHCREC) of the University of Ghana – an important partner of the EU-funded Governing Multifunctional Landscapes in sub-Saharan Africa (GML) project, which is coordinated by the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR).

After five years working in the field with the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) and Ghana’s Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA), Fulailu is now pursuing a MPhil degree in agricultural extension at the University of Ghana.

“I wish to contribute to agricultural growth and sustainable development of small-scale farmers through my profession,” said the 34-year-old student, whose job is to interview small-scale cocoa farmers to learn more on their perceptions on climate change and climate-smart agriculture.

Fulailu comes from Bawku, a town in Ghana’s Upper East Region, near to the border with Burkina Faso. “As I was growing up, I noticed that rural dwellers depended largely on agriculture for their livelihoods. In my region, agriculture plays an important role in food security, rural development and environmental conservation,” said Fulailu. This is why he chose to pursue a BSc degree in Agriculture Technology from the University for Development Studies in Tamale, and later on to pursue a career on this field.

His current research focuses on small-scale cocoa farmers in the Kwaebibirem Municipality, located in Ghana’s Eastern Region – an upcoming area for cocoa production, which is the country’s main cash crop. However, the tangible effects of climate change threaten the livelihoods of cocoa farmers.

“The farmers I have interviewed acknowledge feeling the effects of climate change, such as declining rainfall, poor rainfall distribution and increase in temperatures,” said Fulailu. “However, only some of them are aware of the possible causes, for example agricultural expansion into the nearby Atewa forest range.

“I am interested in sustainable agriculture so we can protect the environment and save our forests for a better world now and for future generations,” said Fulailu. “My professional goal is to advise farmers on undertaking good agricultural practices and climate-smart agriculture,” he added.

Photo: Mr Osman Fulailu in a cocoa farm