Smallholder Farmers' Climate Adaptation Practices and the Digitalization of Climate-Smart Agriculture in Ghana, Sub-Saharan Africa

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University of Guelph

This thesis investigates the complexities of Ghana's rural farmers' climate adaptation practices and the prospect of digitalization of climate-smart agriculture practices in smallholding agriculture. Specifically, I asked five critical research questions, i.e., (I) How is Place conceptualized in farmers' climate adaptation practices in rural Ghana? (II) What is the reality of farmers' current adaptation strategies to climate change in rural Ghana? (III) How can we know if Climate-smart Agriculture practices promote sustainable food system outcomes? (IV) What is the reality of farmers' perception of climate-smart agriculture practices within the context of sustainable food systems? and (V) How are digital tools used in climate adaptation practices, and how can their efficiency be enhanced? The research adopted the mixed-method case study approach involving (critical) literature reviews and participatory learning methods, including expert interviews, farmer-focused group discussion, large-scale household surveys, and farmer practices observation to investigate lived experiences and the dynamics of farmers' climate adaptation practices. I expend this work using the development studies research approach while viewing these research questions through the analytic lens of Geography Place Concepts, 'Everyday Adaptation and interrupted Agency' Concepts, Agency Theory, Sustainable livelihood, and Climate-Smart Agriculture for Climate-Smart Village frameworks. The study drew four significant conclusions, i.e.; (I) The "Sense of Place" of smallholder farmers influences them to choose multi-diverse and complementary place-based climate adaptation strategies, (II) Government and (i)NGOs promoted climate adaptation strategies that interrupt farmer's Agency, ultimately undermines farmers interest and Sense of Place, (III) The prospect for climate-smart agriculture practices and interventions to promote sustainable food systems outcomes in smallholding agriculture is bleak, and (IV) Digitalization of climate-smart agriculture practices in smallholding agriculture is sounding brass and tinkling cymbal. The study calls for urgent investment in basic interventions supporting thriving smallholding agriculture, such as assets, markets, infrastructure, capacity building, etc. Furthermore, a 'glocal' effort is needed to support climate adaptation practices which promote the sense of place and Agency of farmers. Finally, expanding critical drivers of rural non-farm economic activities through effective policy frameworks is crucial in opening opportunities for diverse adaptation options for Ghana and Africa's rural farmers.

Climate Change Adaptation, Climate-Smart Agriculture, Digital Agriculture Technologies, Smallholder Farmers, Sub-Saharan Africa, Sustainable Food Systems
Quarshie, P.T (2021): Exploring the concept of place in the literature on smallholder farmers and climate change adaptation in Sub-Saharan Africa, South African Geographical Journal, DOI: 10.1080/03736245.2021.1963316
Quarshie, P. T., Abdulai., A-R., Abdulai, S., Antwi-Agyei, P., Fraser D.G. E., (2023) Why 'Formal' Climate Adaptation Strategies Fails in Sub-Saharan Africa: Ignoring Adapters' Agency in the Case of Smallholding Agriculture Farming Practices in Bono East Region of Ghana. DOI: 10.1002/cli2.53
Quarshie, P.T., Abdulai, S., Fraser, E.D.G., (2023). (Re)Assessing Climate-Smart Agriculture Practices for Sustainable Food Systems Outcomes in Sub-Saharan Africa: The case of Bono East Region, Ghana.
Quarshie, P. T., Abdulai, A.-R., Duncan, E., Bahadur KC, K., Roth, R., Sneyd, A., & D.G Fraser, E. (2023). Myth or reality? The Digitalization of Climate-Smart Agriculture (DCSA) practices in smallholding agriculture in the Bono East Region of Ghana. Climate Risk Management, 42, 100553.