Climate & Agriculture

Farming across three regions

Farming

FarmingIn this video… Audrey visits a plantain farm. She meets the owner, who explains how the crop is grown and its importance.

Ghana has three main geographic regions:

  1. The coastal belt is traditionally a region of fishing and small-scale farming.
  2. The forest zone occupies around a third of the country and is the main agricultural area. Cocoa beans are grown as the major export crop. Farmers also grow rubber, sugar cane and palm oil, as well as foods for local consumption.
  3. The northern savannah is suitable for livestock rearing, as well as for crops such as yams, rice and millet. Shea and kola nuts are also harvested here.

Improving yields and livelihoods

Cacao trees were introduced in the late 19th century and are grown on more than half of arable land.

The top export

Cocoa beans are the top-earning agricultural export for Ghana, which was the third largest producer in 2010 (according to the UN's Food & Agriculture Organisation).

In the past, much was done to improve roads for transporting the beans and farmers received state help to replace trees lost to droughts. However, today small-scale farmers struggle to keep yields high. Plots of land are generally only two hectares in size and annual earnings as little as 750 dollars (though Ghana’s sun-dried beans do command a slightly higher price).

Since Ghana is such a vital cocoa supplier, one large food company is supplying 1.6 million dollars to farmers for investment in seedlings and fertilisers. The money will also be used to introduce extra crops such as red peppers and mangoes. These can be planted beneath cocoa trees and coconuts, which can grow above them.

Hot and tropical

Mahogany tree

Mahogany treeIn this video...Audrey talks about the mahogany tree, which is sold all over the world to make furniture.

Ghana experiences a hot tropical climate. During the day, temperatures average between 26 to 29°C (often exceeding 30°C) and humidity can be high.

Rainfall is greatest in the southwest of the country, with some areas receiving over 2,000mm annually. To the south, there are two rainy seasons, from April to July and a shorter one in September and November.

The more arid north typically receives between 1,000–1,400mm. Here there is one rainy season which peaks in August and September.

Ghana’s rains occur when the humid maritime air from the Atlantic Ocean moves north. When hot, dry air moves down from the continent, Ghana has its dry spells.

During the winter months (from late November to early March), winds from the northeast bring dust from the Sahara. Known as the Harmattan, these can reduce visibility to just one kilometre.