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Home > Phase 1 > Phase 1 Volta > Dryland Farming in Northern Ghana (PN06)

Full Project Title: Empowering farming communities in Northern Ghana with strategic innovations and productive resources in dryland farming (PN06)


The mostly rural inhabitants of the Volta Basin in Northern Ghana inhabit one of the most food insecure areas in Ghana due to the relatively short rainy season and longer intervening dry period. Productivity constraints include farming methods incompatible with a fragile soil environment and lack of opportunities for income generation that result in reduced crop yields and water productivity.

The project aimed to improve household food security, ensure sustainable use of the soil resource base and of small reservoirs, and reduce household vulnerability to the frequent droughts. The project aimed to improve income while conserving and regenerating the natural resource base by empowering rural farming communities to exploit the productive potential of rain-fed drylands.

Research Highlights

Research highlights

  • Developed improved staple crop varieties for cassava, cowpea, maize and sorghum, and techniques to sustain soil water and improve fertility of  degraded soils
  • Introduced low-cost roof-top water harvesting for increasing domestic water availability and alleviate household water insecurity; rehabilitate and maintain community dugouts for increased water intake and fish production
  • Generated a dry spell distribution map for Northern Ghana based on analyses of long-term rainfall data. The map is now the basis for commendations on choice of crop for specific regions, and for advice on planting dates.
Project Outcomes

Project outcomes

  • Four early maturing cowpea varieties suitable for pre-cereal (rice and maize) cultivation were released and immediately adopted by farmers who obtained up to 25% yield increments over earlier types; varieties of sorghum and cassava with proven high yields under conditions of drought have enjoyed patronage from farmers over a two-year period
  • Farmers adopted an appropriate soil moisture retention and organic matter build-up technique through approaches including field micro-catchment and external water harvesting techniques, and use of several legume species as cover crops.
  • Adoption and impact studies have shown an 11% increase (over farmers in non-beneficiary communities) in the number of farmers that have access, knowledge and make use of strategic innovations to improve dryland farming
  • The acute household water insecurity situation and its associated negative effects on female income generation were demonstrated to policymakers; practical options for increasing domestic water availability have engendered female empowerment in income generation, by relieving women from the burden of water sourcing for domestic needs
  • At the community level, training on dugout maintenance and fish culture techniques have improved fish harvests by 40% in 22 target dugouts with associated increases in water retention
Publications and Outputs

To view all outputs from project PN06 visit our document repository.

Selected publications and outputs

  1. Padi, F.K. Early generation selection for high yielding cowpea genotypes in additive series intercropping systems with sorghum. Annals of Applied Biology 151: 391-400.
  2. Padi, F.K. Response to selection for grain yield and correlated response for grain size and earliness in cowpea based on early generation testing. Annals of Applied Biology 152 (2008) 361–368.
  3. Padi, F.K., J.D. Ehlers. Effectiveness of Early Generation Selection in Cowpea for Grain Yield and Agronomic Characteristics in Semiarid West Africa. Crop Science 48:533–540 (2008).
  4. Padi F.K., Cecil O., Hash C.T., Atokple I.D.K., Fosu M., Abunyewa A.A. and Asante S.K. Improving Staple Crops for Drought Escape and Tolerance in a Semi-arid Environment. Paper presented at the African Project Leaders workshop of the Challenge Program on Water and Food. 28 November – December 1 2005, Entebbe, Uganda.
  5. Strategic Innovations in Dryland Farming in Northern Ghana. PN 6 of the Challenge Program on Water and Food. Technical Report 2005. Edited by Stephen K. Asante and Francis K. Padi.
Final Report
Project Partners

Project partners


Project Lead

Project lead


For more information on Phase 1 outputs please contact Udana Ariyawansa.