Social capital and climate change adaptation strategies : the case of smallholder farmers in the Central region of Ghana
Agriculture in Ghana is dominated by smallholder farmers who are faced with unpredictable rainfall and extreme weather events. Climate modelling forecasts that the rate at which precipitation will decrease in the country is far more than the rate at which it will increase during the wet season. It is predicted that rain-fed maize output will decrease below 25 percent in all the ten regions of the country by 2020 if nothing is done. To mitigate the effect of climate change and safeguard food security, the country must undertake measures to adapt to the changing climate. The process of adaptation, therefore, involves the interdependence of agents through their relation with each other. This includes the institution in which the agents reside and the resource based on which they depend. The resource embedded in such relationship has been termed social capital. Empirical studies on social capital and climate change adaptation is lacking, especially in Ghana. Based on this, the study assesses the influence of social capital on climate change adaptation strategies among smallholder farmers in the Central region of Ghana. Both primary and secondary data were used for the study. Primary data was collected using household questionnaires, focus group discussions, and key informant interviews. K-means cluster analysis was used to identify weak and strong ties and four individual social capital variables. Twenty-year maize and rainfall data were analysed using trend analysis. The influence of individual social capital and other controlled variables were analysed using Multinomial logit model. Using 225 sampled households the results of the study showed that all the four identified individual social capital variables differ by sex. The perceptions of climate change among smallholder farmers also differ significantly by location. The four individual social capital variables as well as other controlled variables influence at least one indigenous adaptation strategy and one introduced adaptation strategy. The study recommends, among others, that transfer of climate change adaptation techniques or technology to smallholder farmers should not be solely accomplished through the usual technology transfer network of agricultural researchers and extension agents. Rather, it will be imperative to increased contact with a wide variety of local actors who provide information and resources for agricultural production.