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The performance of agroecological farming systems under extreme climatic events in northern Ghana

Authors: Hanson Nyantakyi-Frimpong*, University of Denver
Topics: Cultural and Political Ecology, Africa, Food Systems
Keywords: Agroecology, Diversified farming systems, Political Ecology, Critical Physical Geography
Session Type: Paper
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There is a long-standing debate on the best approach to improve agriculture and food security in Africa, especially given persistent climatic changes. Some analysts have called for the use of ‘New Green Revolution’ methods, including biotechnology, fertilizers, hybrid seeds, and pesticides to address hunger, food insecurity, and climate change impacts. Other scholars have suggested that more diversified farming systems, combined with attention to inequality at multiple scales, could be effective ways to address food security and attain positive environmental benefits. This paper presents a case study evidence to support the latter approach. The paper uses insights from political ecology and critical physical geography, with data collected from 122 smallholder farm plots in northern Ghana. Fieldwork techniques included in-depth interviews and biophysical assessments. These datasets were visualized on a risk triangle, with agricultural fields plotted along a gradient of vulnerability and response capacity. Fields that exhibited ‘strong’ and ‘less’ vulnerability were visited for additional fieldwork, involving farm management oral history, as well as participatory farm art and exhibition. Overall, the findings demonstrate that under consecutive years of extreme droughts, diversified farming systems are highly resilient than simplified, monoculture fields. The paper concludes by discussing how agroecological farming systems could be scaled up in Africa’s drylands. It also discusses how participatory art could be deployed not only in farming systems research but also in political ecology and critical physical geography.

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