The Economy and Agriculture

The economy of a country is driven by a series of large sector contributors such as agriculture, industry, and service sector. In Ghana, these three sectors contribute in the percentage 18.24, 34.6, and 42.63 respectively as of 2020 (O’Niel, 2021), with the service sector holding the highest percentile contribution to the entire national GDP. The country’s economy was recorded to have a 0.64% increase between the years of 1990s and 0.4 during the mid-2000s (Global Employment Trends, 2012). There was however an increase in economic growth up to 13.5% in 2011 due to the trade of oil in the country, and current economic growth at 3.9% (Trading Economist, 2021). These statistics show the unstable rise and fall in the economy, with higher growth being associated with oil production and not agriculture.

For a country that has 20.7% of its land been arable (The World Bank, 2021), with 51.5% of its population working in the agricultural sector (Oxford Business Group,2021), how would the economy be affected differently if the agriculture sector was prioritized and upscaled? Land tilling, burning of bushes on farmland, fertilizer application, seed implantation, nurturing, and harvesting are the basic flow of farm work in native Ghanaian communities. These activities are mostly done over small-scale farmlands, mostly in Northern Ghana, with low modern technology use and self-sourced sales route after harvesting. These basic agricultural activities, which are considered standard and harmless are seen to have diverse effects on wildlife on or close to the farmlands, some effects stretching back to forest reserves that harbor good counts of wildlife in Ghana. If agriculture does not experience a thorough sector reformation and healthy integration with other sectors such as industry, farmers will continue to gain less economically, more jobs will not be created and the wildlife in Ghana will continue to see a great decline due to habitat disruption.

What Does Current Agriculture Look Like?

The Brong Ahafo region in Ghana cultivates the highest amount of food crops annually due to its great soil and temperate climate that suits crop growth (Boafo & Lyons, 2021). This region in effect harbors virgin forests that gradually face high deforestation due to local farmers’ need for new lands to farm on. This is mostly done when farmlands are categorized as overused and hold not much nutrient to support high yield, hence, land rotation. Northern Ghana covers about half of the total land space of Ghana, with high agricultural production in cereal crops and tuber foods. This is followed by the Ashanti, Volta, and subsequent regions. The typical system of farming goes in the cycle;

Land clearing → Land tilling →  Seed sowing →  Farm Nurturing →  Harvest  → Distribution

Each of these steps in crop production takes place with activities that counter affects wildlife on or close to these farmlands. From the first step through to the last, post-harvest sales and distribution is another face of agriculture that has remained inefficiently explored. Farmers are left to self source buyers and route of distribution, as compared to cocoa farmers who get direct patronage from government cocoa schemes (Fairafric, 2020). This is where agricultural industrialization can be discussed, but first, how does agriculture affect wildlife and its conservation?

Assessing The Effects of Local Agriculture on Wildlife.

The major forms the Ghanaian wildlife is been affected by agriculture are habitat loss, disruption of homes, and loss of wildlife. Each of these is caused by specific factors;

Land Rotation: This type of farming in Ghana requires local farmers to cut down trees, clear bushes, and forest plantations, with the goal of making it suitable for planting. This act causes animals that were living on these parts of forest land to escape for shelter. In the process of escaping or relocation, these animals fall prey to bigger carnivores that feed on them. 

Tree Logging: A common act in the forests of Ghana is tree felling that is mostly used for woodwork, poles, or charcoal production. Due to the act of land rotation, some local farmers find excuses to engage in deforestation, with the justification of engaging in land rotation. Farmers who do not make much from their farm produce also turn to deliberately cut down trees for charcoal production, This is exemplarily seen at the Zabzugu-Tatale district where yam is mostly farmed, but meets great post-harvest losses due to inefficient transportation and distribution.

Bush burning: Once a new land has been cultivated for farming, one of the prominent acts following is bush burning. This is done to clear bushes, transform some plant bodies into effective nutrients, and ashes from the fire are believed to add nutrients to the soil. What the farmers fail to notice is that this also causes loss of habitat and death to soil burrowing animals such as the aardvark, soil worms, and some insects. High flame stretch also affects some butterflies, birds, and forestland snakes. 

Fertilizer application: This act mostly affects soil burrowing animals. With constant rains and soil moisture due to irrigation or farm watering, some chemicals from the different fertilizers used on farms pose health hazards to these animals. This phenomenon goes unnoticed in Ghanaian agriculture but is a viable contributor to wildlife decline.

Some Wild Species In Ghana

Species such as the soil burrowing Aardvark are most affected by Ghana’s agricultural activities. Their habitats are mostly attacked by the farm/ forest fires set up by farmers before planting season or for bushmeat hunting.

How Can Wildlife be Intervened For?

The discussed effects emerge from different social, environmental, and economical plights of the farmers. Typically, the form of agricultural practice in local communities remains archaic. These farmers receive very less modern technique training and education, as compared to advanced regions across the globe (Agri Farming, 2021). To reduce the impact of farming practices on wildlife, agriculture and industrialization can be productively integrated into a direct network system. This is a system that will require farmers to adopt modern farming methods, which reduce or eliminate all four mentioned practices that affect wildlife while increasing the level of income on their annual harvest. This is discussed below:

How Do We Make Millions Now?

With the efforts to mitigate wildlife conservation and agricultural impacts, the recommended system of action is pictured below;

Industry Creation → Direct Deals with Farmers → Raw Products to Industries → In-country Tertiary Goods Production → Local Distribution and International Export 

This recommendation requires the direct involvement of the government to set up industries, invite industrial investors to set up their firms in the country rather than export the raw products. These industries’ locations should be built close to agricultural sites where the specific raw material is utilized. This will allow short transportation and ease in partnering with the local farmers. Part of the industrial reformation policy should include mandatory modern farming methods training offered by these industries to the farmers, with the government meeting their side of the effort by availing modern technologies at subsidized rates. This will ensure that a healthier farming practice is adopted, post-harvest losses are radically reduced and farmers make more income annually, with a halt in the decline of wildlife. The country will as well make higher revenue from the agricultural sector, which will raise the national GDP.

Other Alternative Methods

Vertical Farming Systems


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