Improving water productivity for smallholder rice farmers in the upper west region of Ghana: A review of sustainable approaches

Mawuli Y. Boadjo, Richard J. Culas

Research output: Book chapter/Published conference paperChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


Water productivity remains a challenge in the Upper West Region (UWR) and Ghana as a whole. Population growth and change in lifestyle of most Ghanaians, especially the city dwellers, have increased the demand for cereal foods like rice and maize. Rice production requires significant water resources. Low productivity is widespread in the production of rice and this has accentuated Ghana’s need to import this staple crop. Rice is traded internationally in the United States Dollar, and so the importation of rice to meet the nation’s rice appetite has contributed to the weakening of the Ghanaian Cedi over the years, affecting the entire economy. That is the economic context in which this study explores the complex story of Ghanaians’ relationship to rice and how rice industry stakeholders, in particular, smallholder rice growers in the UWR and beyond, see their future, a future imperiled by global climate change. What is the country to do to shape a sustainable and doable rice industry?
In this regard, this study aims to identify ways of improving water productivity within the sector to lift crop production and improve farmer livelihoods and reduce the country’s reliance on imported rice. Water resources identified in this study included rainfall, rivers, dams and dugouts. The results indicated that Ghana has abundant water resources that need to be utilized in a manner that will reduce wastage. The findings also revealed that rice production in the UWR and Ghana generally is not well organized. Supplemental irrigation (SI) was observed to be a highly efficient water use practice which, if more broadly adopted could improve water productivity in the UWR since farmers in the region rely heavily on inefficient rainfed agriculture. This study therefore recommends SI to steer agriculture towards a more sustainable future, ultimately improving rural livelihoods and communities.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationExploring synergies and trade-offs between climate change and the sustainable development goals
EditorsV Venkatramanan, Shachi Shah, Ram Prasad
Place of PublicationSingapore
Number of pages32
ISBN (Electronic)9789811573019
ISBN (Print)9789811573002
Publication statusPublished - 2021


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