Trends in Agriculturally-Relevant Rainfall Characteristics for Small-scale Agriculture in Northern Ghana

  •  Genesis Yengoh    
  •  Frederick Armah    
  •  Edward Onumah    
  •  Justice Odoi    


This study set out to investigate the trends of agriculturally-relevant rainfall characteristics among small-scale farmers in the rainfall-sensitive dry savanna agro ecological zone of northern Ghana.  Interviews are used to identify characteristics of rainfall which are deemed by the farmers as important in their food production. Time series daily rainfall data from 1960-2007 is then used to identify trends in these variables which include the amount and temporal distribution of rainfall, occurrence of extreme daily rainfall events, the onset of rains, risk of dry spells and coefficient of variability of rains. The risk of dry spells for varying number of days following the planting period is computed using first-order Markov chain modeling. We find that there is a significant increase in mean rainfall per rain day and the coefficient of variation or summer rainfall amounts. No significant change in the onset of rains, the annual rainfall amount and maximum rainfall days are established. However, a significant decrease in the number of rain days and the probability of dry spells of up to seven and eleven days in the first four weeks of the planting season is revealed. There is need for development of an agricultural policy framework designed to understand the growing risks associated with agricultural production among small-scale farmers, and to improve management practices to accommodate and adapt to the new challenges of varying rainfall.

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