Vincent Avornyo, Iowa State University, Ames, IA and Osamu Ito, Institute for the Advanced Study of Sustainability (UNU - IAS), United Nations University, Tokyo, Japan
A household and field survey was conducted in six communities [Fihini (F), Cheshegu (C), Dabogushei (D), Kpalgum (K), Zergua (Z), and Yoggu (Y)], of the Tolon district in northern Ghana in order to identify the spatial characteristics of the cropping system that mitigate against adverse events. GPS coordinates taken from farmers’ fields were plotted on Google Earth Pro, converted to layer files and then exported as Shapefiles. Maize, Groundnut, rice, and yam were found to be the four major crops grown in the communities. Communities were observed to be clusters of rounded huts numbering from as low as 15 in C to as high as 120 in Y. Rice fields occupied the lowest elevations on the landscape and always located along the valley bottoms of the watersheds, whereas the fields for the other three crops appeared scattered spatially but occupying similar elevation.While maize was dominant in terms of total cultivated area, Groundnut ranked number one in terms of average (7,812m2 or < 2 acres) land size per community. Groundnut is grown on such large scale because it is a major cash crop in the area and a major source of protein in the diet of the community. Yam farms were the smallest in terms of total land area and average (<½ acre) land size. The four major crops are usually grown on distinct parcels of land that are far apart This cropping system which is perceived as a mitigating strategy against adverse events could best be described as “spatial multiple cropping.” This cropping system enables the farmer to diversify land utilization by planting different crops on different plots of land. Farm households are therefore able to plant various crops that have different levels of tolerance and resistance to adverse events.