Despite the important role information plays in ensuring that farmers are abreast with innovative farming practices, access to Climate smart Agricultural (CSA) information is low in rural areas in Ghana. However, in the Pru District, an essential area of concern that has not been given due exploration is a comparison of rural female and male farmers' access to information in order to ascertain whether they have equal access to CSA information or there is a gender differential in this regard. Using a mixed method approach, the study sought to analyse rural farmers' access to CSA information in the Pru District of Ghana and ascertain whether there are gender differences in access to CSA information and the factors accounting for that. Both quantitative and qualitative data were collected from 133 male and 139 female farmers for the study. Using the Statistical package for Social Sciences (SPSS) software, both inferential and descriptive statistics were used to analyse the quantitative data while the qualitative data was analysed by employing Dey's (1993) three steps processes of qualitative data analysis.
The study revealed that the major source of CSA information for both male and female farmers is government extension officers. The major channel through which the extension officers transfer CSA information to female farmers is farm visit by the extension officers. The major channel for male farmers is farmers' visit to the extension officers' office. However, both male and female farmers preferred extension officers to transfer CSA information to them through farm visit by extension officers. The study also revealed that there is a poor level of CSA information dissemination in the Pru District. However, there is a gender differential in access to CSA information among farmers in the Pru District, which is biased towards men. Male farmers have more access to CSA information than female farmers because female farmers are not involved in deciding meeting schedules with extension officers, female farmers miss extension
programs because of their numerous farm and off-farm duties, cultural norms that limit female farmers from interacting with strangers for information, and female farmers could not afford to regularly visit extension officers' office for CSA information.
The study therefore recommends that extension officers should involve female farmers in deciding meeting schedules, there should be social and economic empowerment programs to help female farmers access CSA information through diverse means such as radio and television, and there should be campaigns by the government and NGOs to eradicate cultural norms that limit women's mobility as they make efforts to access CSA information. The study again recommends that the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) must strengthen its extension department by increasing the number of extension officers and logistics so that the officers can regularly and easily visit farmers on their farms to deliver information on CSA practices.
Agriculture is currently undergoing significant transformation to meet food demands under the realities of climate change. Without doubt, this effort will bring into focus the important role that information plays in creating awareness and enabling farmers to adopt innovative practices for increasing production levels. Based on food consumption patterns and population growth, food production needs to increase by 70% or more in order for food demands to be met by 2050 (Ashish et al., 2017). This is a huge task as climate change is expected to reduce food production and therefore threaten the capacity of agriculture to feed the ever increasing population of the globe, especially in developing countries where additional 2.4 billion people are expected by 2050, concentrated in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia (Leslie et al., 2014). Climate change has already reduced global yields of maize by 3.8% and wheat by 5.5% (Leslie et al., 2014). Across Africa, wheat yields are estimated to drop by 17% and maize by 5% before 2050 (Knox et al., 2012).
The devastating impacts of climate change have necessitated agriculture to depend more on the transfer of information regarding weather trends and best farm practices. Information dissemination regarding these areas aids farmers to plan their farm activities in order to adapt to the devastating effects of climate change on crop yield. For instance, farmers' access to information regarding rainfall and temperature patterns, crops to plant, market price of farm produce, where to buy farm inputs, where to get credit, how to operate farm tools, how to apply
fertilizer etc. are very crucial in enhancing the farmer's output levels and resilience to climate change.
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