Dr Samuel Asuming-Brempong, Senior Lecturer at the Department of Agricultural Economics and Agribusiness, University of Ghana has called on policy makers to develop mechanisms to enable smallholder farmers to tap into the global carbon market.
This, he said, would help Ghana reduce the risk of carbon leakage and encourage other developing economies to adopt climate change policies.
He said contract farming could be used as one way of mobilising smallholder farmers to benefit from carbon markets.
Dr Asuming-Brempong made the call during a workshop on Mitigation of Climate Change in Agriculture on the theme: “Understanding Climate Change Mitigation in Agriculture: Challenges and Opportunities,” in Accra.
The initiative was organised by the Soil Research Institute of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) in partnership with the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) to provide the necessary background information on climate change issues pertaining to mitigation in agriculture.
Carbon trading has raised $14 billion renewable energy investment in developing countries between 2002 and 2006. The global carbon trading market was worth an estimated $30 billion in 2006 which was a 200 per cent increase in 2005.
The European Union is currently responsible for more than 80 per cent of the global market. As at mid 2007, it has driven approximately $13 billion investments in 60 carbon funds, up from around $5 billion invested in 40 carbon funds at May 2006.
Consensus forecasts are for carbon prices to reach $54 by 2020.
Dr Asuming-Brempong said the global population swells by about 146 people per minute adding that human strain on terrestrial, marine and freshwater ecosystems is causing some of nature’s life support services to falter.
“The major issue now is the global thermostat fuelling extreme weather events as the ability of forests and oceans to absorb heat-trapping gases are depleted,” he said.
He said an ecosystem marketplace had been created to enlighten the story of ecosystem services needed to build a new economy that would pay for and invest in the services.
He expressed dissatisfaction about the lack of legal mandate of Ghana’s environmental regulation institutions to address issues concerning ecosystem services.
Dr Beatrice Darko Obiri, Head of Division, Forest Products and Marketing Division, Forestry Research Institute of the CSIR said it was very critical to motivate farmers to adopt high productive mitigation practices to enable them to curb problems such as scattered and resources poor farms, complex tenure arrangement, unstable production and fluctuating seasonal prices on domestic market and limited infrastructure.
She mentioned some of the incentives such as planting material support, marketing, labour and finance, long term access to land and building local capacity for access to information.
She called for effective structures to ensure standards in production, monitoring and reporting to attain the required carbon benefits.
Dr Edward Yeboah, Head of Soil Microbiology Division of the Soil Research Institute of the CSIR urged farmers to embrace biochar to retain soil nutrients, increase soil aggregate stability and increase grain yield.
Dr Alex De Pinto, Senior Research Staff of IFPRI said lack of credit, investments costs and risk aversion was a substantial barrier to adoption of mitigation practices.
He called for increased understanding of social, technical and economic factors that support and hinder adaptations.
IFPRI is one of 15 centres supported by the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research, an alliance of 64 governments, private foundations, and international and regional organisations to seek for sustainable solutions for ending hunger and poverty.
It aimed at identifying and analysing alternative international, national, and local policies in support of improved food security and nutrition.
It emphasised low-income countries and poor people and the sound management of the natural resource base that supports agriculture and contributing to capacity strengthening of people and institutions in developing countries that conduct research on food, agriculture, and nutrition policies.
In carrying out its activities, IFPRI seeks to focus on vulnerable groups, as influenced by class, religion, ethnicity, agro-ecological location, and gender.