Impact of roads on farm size, market participation, and forest cover change in rural Ghana

Acheampong, Emmanuel Opoku (2016) Impact of roads on farm size, market participation, and forest cover change in rural Ghana. Masters (Research) thesis, James Cook University.

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The research sought to find out: the degree to which improved roads influence farm size and market participation of different typologies of farmers; the factors that contribute to forest cover change; and the extent to which forest cover changes along roads. In answering these questions, rural areas in Ghana were used for the study.

Five districts in three regions of Ghana were mapped for the research. Ten communities from the five districts were selected for field survey; five with improved roads and five without improved roads. Thirty farmers were interviewed in each of the selected communities. Data on their farming operations, household characteristics, and other factors were sought and analysed using regression in SPSS. This provided the results for the farm size dynamics and farmers' market participation in rural Ghana. Satellite images for 1986, 2002, and 2015 were downloaded from Landsat archives, pre-processed, mosaicked, and used to analyse the contributory factors to forest cover change as well as the changing patterns of forest cover along roads in the study area. ArcGIS 10.2.1 and ENVI 5.3 software was used for the spatial analyses.

The regression results showed that improved roads reduce the rate of farm expansion net all other factors. Furthermore, improved road farmers have relatively small farm sizes than hinterland farmers. The rate of farm size reduction with time is higher at the improved road zone than in the hinterlands. Despite the relatively small farms of the improved road farmers, they sell 84% of their farm produce as compared to 31% of the hinterland farmers. The hinterland farmers grow mainly for consumption due to the challenges they face with transportation.

The spatial analysis showed that agriculture and settlements expansion were the main causes of deforestation in the study area. Within the 29-year period, more than 50% deforestation occurred along both the improved and unimproved roads. However, the extent of deforestation along the unimproved road was higher (62.8%) than along the improved road (7.5%) especially between 2002 and 2015. Deforestation along the improved road declined overtime while that along the unimproved road increased. This is because agricultural expansion was 63% higher along the unimproved road than the improved road for the 29 years and it kept on increasing overtime.

Agricultural transformation through the application of modern farm inputs should be recommended to the farmers such that they could increase their outputs on the existing farmlands without increasing their farm sizes. This would lead to surpluses beyond the consumption of farm households. To encourage commercialisation of farm produce, roads in the hinterlands should be improved to avoid post-harvest losses resulting from the surpluses.

Improving the roads would attract more farmers since they could easily connect to the markets, attract more investors to the agricultural corridor, and enhance the creation of other non-farm jobs. Although, this might exert pressure on the existing farmlands and the forest, when farm intensification is practiced and strict environmental laws are enforced, agricultural production could increase with minimal threat to forest. Livelihoods of farmers would improve through the sale of the surpluses produced as well as the other non-farm jobs they might engage in resulting from the road's improvement. Improved roads could promote agricultural transformation, transform farmers' wellbeing, enhance community development, and conserve nature when environmental measures are adhered to.

Item ID: 46192
Item Type: Thesis (Masters (Research))
Keywords: agriculture; conservation; deforestation; developing countries; farm roads; farm size; farms; forest cover; forest management; forests; Ghana; impact of roads; new roads; rural development; rural infrastructure
Copyright Information: Copyright © 2016 Emmanuel Opoku Acheampong.
Date Deposited: 27 Oct 2016 02:23
FoR Codes: 05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050299 Environmental Science and Management not elsewhere classified @ 50%
07 AGRICULTURAL AND VETERINARY SCIENCES > 0701 Agriculture, Land and Farm Management > 070199 Agriculture, Land and Farm Management not elsewhere classified @ 50%
SEO Codes: 97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970105 Expanding Knowledge in the Environmental Sciences @ 50%
97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970107 Expanding Knowledge in the Agricultural and Veterinary Sciences @ 50%
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