Modernizing agricultural practices to ensure food security

In the Northern region of Ghana, 30% of the population lives in poverty. Working hand in hand with the governement, Ghanaian scientist Anita Takura will conduct quantitative and qualitative interviews with local population to establish the remaining progresses that can be made to modernize agricultural practices.

Anita Takura aims to establish how the challenges of ensuring long-term food security in rural areas of Ghana can be achieved without causing irreversible environmental damage.

Food security is a major problem in the northern region of Ghana where over 30% of the population lives in poverty. Children are particularly affected, with 12% considered to be undernourished. Whilst nearly two-thirds of Ghanaians in the northern regions work in agriculture, growing crops such as maize, groundnut and yam, the arid savannah conditions and the increasing impact of climate change make it difficult to ensure that sufficient food is available all year round. In Ghana, as in many other African countries, the government response to this situation has been to accelerate development by modernizing agricultural practices, transforming the current smallholder activity into commercial scale agriculture, with the aim of increasing employment, income generation and nutritional security.

As part of her PhD research, Anita will look at both the environmental and social impact of this transformation with the aim of informing investment decisions based on sound impact data. Using questionnaires and focus group interviews across Northern Ghana, she will collect quantitative and qualitative data from the local population to help her document how land use and agricultural practice is changing as a result of agricultural commercialization. She will take into account factors such as the use of water for irrigation, pesticides and fertilizers, as well as the social impact on the daily lives of the agricultural workers and their families. Anita will use statistical software during her stay at the University of Nottingham to analyze the data objectively, so that she can get a clear picture of the trade-off, between different stakeholder objectives, that is necessary to improve the lives of vulnerable and impoverished households whilst preserving her country’s fragile ecosystem.

On completion of her PhD, Anita will be well equipped to play a role as advisor to donors and commercial investors planning new agricultural initiatives in Northern Ghana. She will be able to recommend appropriate intervention strategies and help design environmental impact studies and monitoring programs, thus contributing to a more sustainable framework for the future of agriculture in Ghana.

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