Climate change is a serious threat to Ghana's ambition of becoming a fully fledged middle income country by 2020 as the country’s emissions of Green House Gases (GHG) had increased since 2004.
Professor Chris Gordon, the Director of Institute of Environment and Sanitation Studies, College of Basic and Applied Sciences, University of Ghana, said this when speaking on the topic; "ICT, Climate Change and Agricultural Production," at the 68th Annual New Year School and Conference at the University of Ghana.
"It is already affecting economic output, livelihoods and, therefore, long-term development prospects, even though Ghana’s own contribution to global climate change has been negligible," Prof Gordon said.
Prof. Gordon said in 2014, which is the official latest reporting year to United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Ghana’s total GHG emissions, excluding the agriculture, forestry and other land use sectors, were estimated to be 16.51 MtCO2e.
He said carbon dioxide had increased by 82 per cent, nitrous oxide by 22 per cent and Methane by 16 per cent; adding that the mean annual temperature had risen by 1.0 °C since 1960.
"The number of 'hot' days per year has increased by 13.2 per cent, while the number of 'hot' nights per year has increased by 20 per cent," Prof Gordon stated. "Cold days and nights per year have decreased by 3.3 and 5.1 per cent respectively," he added. He said in 2005 – 2010, the period between start and end of rains varied by as much as 30 per cent from year to year.
"The reason for Ghana’s vulnerability is the reliance on sectors that are sensitive to climate change such as agriculture, forestry and energy production," he said. "Evidence already shows the impact of climate change on our national economy, with clear signs that the coastal zone, agriculture and water resources are all negatively affected, with consequent impacts on poverty, health and women’s livelihoods," Prof. Gordon said.
He said at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Policy Dialogue with Political Parties on the Paris Climate Change Agreement held in October 2016, prior to the December 7 general election, it was very clear that not one of the multitude of political parties had factored in or mainstreamed the effects or response needed to deal with climate change appropriately in their manifestoes.
"The question we have before us is how can we turn the negatives of climate change into positives so that we can sustainably increase agricultural production using ICT," he said. He cited better acquisition of weather data, early warning systems for farmers and better marketing of produce that impacts the lives of the small holder farmers who make up the bulk of the agriculture sector in Ghana as means of increasing agriculture production.
The 68th Annual New Year School and Conference is on the theme: "Promoting National Development through Agriculture Modernisation: The Role of ICT".It aims at creating the forum for passionate discussions on how ICT could be integrated into agriculture to modernise the sector for sustainable national development.
It is being organised by the School of Continuing and Distance Education, University of Ghana, under the auspices of the MTN, Eximbank Ghana, and Kosmos Innovation Centre.