Effective post-harvest management is crucial to avoid food loss along the value chain. Investments in scaling technologies for improved post-harvest management have high potential for reducing crop losses, also and especially under climate change. With climate change altering growing and harvesting seasons, post-harvest management is important to cope with increased uncertainty. It is a risk-reducing strategy that lowers the vulnerability of crop production to climate impacts. Next to main staple crops such as maize and beans, post-harvest loss (PHL) of easily perishable horticulture crops could be avoided. Numerous effective and low-cost technologies exist that can prevent or reduce PHL.
Ghana’s NDC Implementation and Investment plan lists post-harvest management as a priority for adapting agriculture to climate change, with interviews confirming wide-spread interest in such strategies. A concrete post-harvest technology with promising results in the context of maize production in Ghana have been so-called PICS bags (Purdue Improved Cowpea Storage): simple and affordable yet effective hermetic storage bags originally developed for storing cowpea. Implementation of improved post-harvest management strategies can be recommended across the country as a low-hanging fruit, since better post-harvest management can increase agricultural production considerably.
Furthermore, as the economic analysis confirmed, most post-harvest management measures are rather low cost interventions, with most intervention types being “no regret” strategies because even in the absence of climate change, the improvement in crop handling will lead to lower crop losses and higher agricultural output, being economically sensible. Figure 1 shows the net value of maize production under different post-harvest management scenarios, compared to scenarios of maize production without adaptation – both with (CC) and without climate change (BAS). Except for the highest cost scenario (MAX), all other PHM scenarios do not only make up for the maize losses under climate change, but are also able to surpass maize production under the baseline scenario (without climate change and without adaptation). This shows their high economic viability.
Overall, post-harvest management strategies have considerable potential in Ghana and, being an often low-cost and no-regret strategy, can be recommended for wider implementation.
In response to increasing greenhouse gas (GHG) concentrations, air temperature over Ghana is projected to rise by 0.7 – 2.7°C (very likely range) by 2080 relative to year 2000, depending on the future GHG emissions scenario. Compared to 2000 levels, median climate model temperature increases over Ghana amount to approximately 0.8°C in 2030, 1.1°C in 2050, and 1.2°C in 2080 under the low emissions scenario RCP2.6. Under the medium/high emissions scenario RCP6.0, median climate model temperature increases amount to 1.0°C in 2030, 1.5°C in 2050, and 2.3°C in 2080.
Very hot days
In line with rising annual mean temperatures, the annual number of very hot days (days with daily maximum temperature greater than 35°C) is projected to rise substantially in particular over northern Ghana. Under the medium/high emission scenario RCP6.0, on average over all of Ghana, the median climate model projects 34 more very hot days per year in 2030 than in 2000, 55 more in 2050, and 94 more in 2080. In some parts, especially in the North of Ghana, this amounts to about 300 days per year by 2080.
Sea level rise
In response to globally increasing temperatures, the sea level off the coast of Ghana is projected to rise. Until 2050, very similar sea levels are projected under different GHG emissions scenarios. Under RCP6.0 and compared to year 2000 levels, the median climate model projects a sea level rise by 11 cm in 2030, 20 cm in 2050, and 39 cm in 2080. This threatens Ghana’s coastal communities and may cause saline intrusion in coastal waterways and groundwater reserves.
Future projections of precipitation are substantially more uncertain than projections of temperature or sea level rise. Detecting trends in annual mean precipitation projections is complicated by large natural variability at multi-decadal time scales and considerable modelling uncertainty (Figure 5). Of the four climate models underlying this analysis, one projects a decline in annual mean precipitation over Ghana. According to the other three models, there will be no change. Therefore, our best estimate is that there will be almost no change in total precipitation per year until 2080 irrespective of the emissions scenario, yet this result is highly uncertain.
Heavy precipitation events
In response to global warming, extreme precipitation events are expected to become more intense in many parts of the world due to the increased water vapor holding capacity of a warmer atmosphere. At the same time, the number of days with heavy precipitation is expected to increase. This tendency is also found in climate projections for Ghana, with climate models projecting a slight increase in the number of days with heavy precipitation events, from 7 days/year in 2000 to 8 days/year under RCP2.6 or 9 days/year under RCP6.0 by 2080. Central Ghana is subject to increased heavy precipitation, while for the far north, no change is projected by the multi-model mean.
Soil moisture is an important indicator for drought conditions. In addition to soil parameters, it depends on both precipitation and evapotranspiration and therefore also on temperature as higher temperature translates to higher potential evapotranspiration. Annual mean top 1-m soil moisture projections for Ghana show a decreasing tendency. This tendency is stronger than the corresponding precipitation change projections, which reflects the influence of temperature rise on evapotranspiration.
Potential evapotranspiration is the amount of water that would be evaporated and transpired if there were sufficient water available at and below the land surface. Since warmer air can hold more water vapor, it is expected that global warming will increase potential evapotranspiration in most regions of the world. In line with this expectation, hydrology projections for Ghana indicate a stronger rise of potential evapotranspiration under RCP6.0 than under RCP2.6. Specifically, under RCP6.0, compared to year 2000 levels, potential evapotranspiration is projected to increase by 3.2% in 2030, 4.6% in 2050, and 7.4% in 2080.
While most adaptation strategies seek to minimize risks stemming from climate change, not all risks can be eliminated. Weather perils such as droughts, storms or erratic precipitation represent so-called systemic risks that go beyond the farmers’ coping ability. Thus, mechanisms are needed that distribute residual risks to avoid that certain groups or individuals lose their livelihoods. One such risk transfer solution is crop insurance, which allows farmers to insure their crop yields against weather-induced losses. While insurance usually is based on indemnity assessment, this model is problematic for smallholder farmers due to the high transaction costs which insurance schemes usually entail. Thus, a more suitable approach for smallholder farmers are weather index-based insurances (WII), a scheme that uses a weather index, such as precipitation, to determine a payout. Alternative index-based insurance schemes can also be useful, such as area-yield index insurance.
Generally, insurance schemes are rather costly adaptation strategies, at least when considering the overall costs and with progressing climate change increasing the overall risk to the agricultural sector. However, insurance schemes have an important role to play for securing livelihoods: They can stabilize farm incomes and can prove to be very cost-effective for farmers when a hazard occurs.
According to the Ghana Agricultural Insurance Pool (GAIP), area-yield index insurance (AYII) as an alternative to WII has shown the biggest potential for smallholder farmers in Ghana as of yet. GAIP is a pioneer in implementing AYII in Ghana, insuring since 2011 successfully some 3000 – 4000 smallholder farmers’ cereal crops on over 18,000 acres of land. In 2017, GAIP made payouts to nearly half its insured parties.
Although AYII is a promising development, farmers’ uptake of AYII in Ghana remains limited. Balmalssaka et al. (2016), who examined the willingness of farmers in northern Ghana to participate in insurance schemes, found access to credit as well as education and experience with insurance to be important factors determining farmers’ engagement with crop insurance (Balmalssaka et al., 2016).
This indicates the need for additional incentives or financial support for taking out insurance, underlined also by Aidoo et al. (2014) who determined farmers’ willingness to pay for crop insurance in one municipality in Ghana. He concluded there was a need for government subsidies to implement it in the country (Aidoo et al., 2014). While subsidies are one strategy, experts also suggested to bundle insurance with inputs, where possible, to increase uptake.
Overall, crop insurance is a promising strategy for transferring climate risk also in Ghana. There is high interest in Ghana and demand-based roll-out of insurance pilots can be recommended. However, careful design is crucial to ensure affordability and financial sustainability.
 The main insured crops are: maize, sorghum, millet and groundnut.
Aidoo, R., James, O., Prosper, W., & Awunyo-Vitor, D., (2014). Prospects of crop insurance as a risk management tool among arable crop farmers in Ghana. Asian Economic and Financial Review, 4(3), 341–354.
Balmalssaka, Y., Wumbei, B. L., Buckner, J., & Nartey, R. Y., (2016). Willingness to participate in the market for crop drought index insurance among farmers in Ghana. African Journal of Agricultural Research, Vol. 11(14), 1257–1265.