Climate Smart Village: Agricultural and digital technologies approach

Integrating climate information and eco-conservation technologies

Faced with frequent unpredictable dry spells, farmers rely on mobile climate advisories for critical and timely information to decide when to sow crops and when to store or release harvested rainwater in a village in Ghana.

The challenge

In Jirapa district, the distribution of rain within the season is so erratic that it is difficult to predict for any cropping year.

Farmers often plant seeds two or three times before rains set in reliably.

Long spells of drought often punctuate the wet season, leading to partial or total crop failures. When this happens, it causes severe household food shortages and therefore acute malnutrition among children and women.

The region has extremely challenging conditions for farmers with high temperatures, erratic rainfall and eroded soils resulting in lower crop yields.

Climate change in Ghana is expected to take the form of more frequent and intense drought, increasing rainfall variability, and higher temperatures - from between 2°C to 4°C by 2100, or about 1.5 times higher than the global average (Nii et al. 2011). These changes are expected to affect crop yields and resource availability in a region already characterized by scarcity.

To address the problem the following interventions were made -


The development of the Climate Smart Village (CSV) starts with participatory diagnosis using a Toolkit for Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation on Climate Change Adaptive capacities (TOP-MECCA) developed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) to analyze and perform monitoring and evaluation of the adaptive capacity to climate change (Somda et al., 2011).

The project team

  • Assessed the vulnerability and adaptation strategies in the Doggoh community in Jirapa district using the sustainable livelihoods, multi-scale and integrated monitoring and evaluation frameworks;
  • Defined a vision in the community which was then validated by actors during the Jirapa district workshop involving various stakeholders identified by Doggoh community members;
  • Based on the vision developed by the community, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research - Savanna Agricultural Research Institute (CSIR-SARI) team and its partners developed a CSV prototype with the below components.

Climate information services

Ghana Meteorological Agency (GMET) provides information on

  • Length of the cropping season
  • Starting and ending of rains
  • Periods of dry spells

From this information, farmers in the region –

  • Prepare land in time for planting depending on the prediction for onset of rains
  • Harvest water for use in anticipation of prolonged dry spells in the months of June and July
  • Prepare for heavy rain risk by adopting dam management – release harvested water if needed well before the peak of rainy season.

In 2015, an agreement was signed with Esoko a private mobile service provider for disseminating climate information and answering farmers’ queries.

Doggoh farmer Mampong Naa, who grows maize and millet, says he has benefitted from the farmer helpline.

Climate Smart Agriculture technologies

The community tested the following:

  • Crop rotation (maize and cowpea) to increase maize production and income;
  • Water conservation techniques (tie ridge, bunding, zai pits) to increase rainwater productivity and soil amendment;
  • Minimum or no tillage (with soybean and maize) to increase soil productivity;
  • Application of mineral and organic fertilizer;
  • Use of drought tolerant varieties (maize), to increase crop productivity;
  • Tree planting and intercropping of jatropha with cowpea to i) improve rural incomes (ii) diversify and intensify farming systems; (iii) support farmers to add value through carbon credits; (iv) improve access to rural renewable energy
  • Some of these technologies were combined for integrated soil fertility management.

Capacity building trainings included

  • Integrated water management options  (100 farmers)
  • Anti-bushfire squads (146 farmers)
  • Compost preparation (146 farmers)
  • Land reclamation and soil fertility management practices (234 farmers)
  • Women Climate Smart Groups were trained in soybean production and post-harvest losses reduction.

Local institutions and knowledge

With the support of CCAFS, International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and in partnership with local partners in Ghana like Council for Scientific and Industrial Research - Savanna Agricultural Research Institute (CSIR/SARI), Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA), CSIR-Forestry Research Institute of Ghana (CSIR-FORIG) and Langmaal Centre for Rural Development Initiatives (LACERD) efforts were made to develop capacity of national institutions and community organizations in the region.

Village development plan

The plan reflects the vision of the community for CSV. The CSV is connected to platforms to catalyze the development plan at the district level. One of the specific objectives of these platforms is to advocate for policy and budgetary support for climate change, agriculture and food security adaptation and mitigation action.