DRY yearly forecast is provided and supplemented with

DRYSEASON MANAGEMENT PROCESS IN GHANA Ghanarelies mainly on rain fed agriculture in all the major farming areas. Rain ishowever not available throughout the year and this affects agriculturalproduction having an effect on food security. The two seasons present in thecountry are the wet season (rainy season) and the dry season.

These seasons arenot same for all the parts of the country at the same time periods. For theNorthern part of Ghana, the dry season lasts between November to April and thewet season spans from May to October. There is therefore one planting seasonfor the regions of upper Ghana. For the Southern part of Ghana, there is amajor raining season, minor raining season and the dry season. This allows for2 cropping regimes. There is therefore a need to manage the dry season whenthere are no rains to ensure agricultural production.

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This part of the documentconsiders the measures in place to ensure management of the dry season as aNation. From the information gathered from the various institutions, thefollowing came out clear as existing approaches for dry season management1.     InformationDelivery and Transfer – Relying on information from the designated agencies(GMet, HSD), end users (Farmers) are informed of the expected periods for thedifferent seasons and their intensities.

The Ghana Meteorological Agency,Hydrological Services Department, Volta River Authority and other institutionsgenerate forecast information from the various systems available andcrosschecks such information with information from other countries in theregion especially neighboring countries. This information is passed on from theNational offices of the various institutions to the District offices and to theExtension officers who further inform the farmers and other stakeholders. Themode of transfer include announcement on radios in specific communitylanguages, printed materials, toll free service with pre-recorded messages. Theyearly forecast is provided and supplemented with updated information as theseasons gets closer. This allows the farmers to prepare in anticipation for theseasons to ensure efficient and effective farm returns. Preparation for some ofthe commonly adverse effect of the dry season including hunger, wildfires arealso put in place. This involves the training of fire volunteers, securityagencies and NADMO to meet the challenges that come with the season.

This ishowever insufficient because there is mostly a long period of inactivity on thefarm lands. 2.     Theinformation received from the agencies allows the farmers to engage in otherlivelihood activities in the dry season. There is a major migration to otherparts of the country especially people leaving in the three (3) Northernregions to partake in service activities and raise money to use during theplanting season. Most of the farming communities use the dry season as a periodto prepare their farms and market the harvested produce.  3.     Duringthe dry season, the Water Resource Commission and other agencies allows for farmingactivities in the buffer zone (the no go areas) around water bodies forecosystem preservation.

Certain Agricultural practices are also allowed on thebuffer zones of some rivers in the dry season to ensure the availability offood. During the dry season the water recedes and part of the water banks –high quality soil becomes available for such agricultural activities.  4.     Thegovernment as part of its agenda to encourage year round agriculturalactivities is embarking on a one village one dam project. This is to ensureavailability of water for agricultural processes in order to sustain livelihoodand food security. This will act as a storage point for water and supply suchto the farms in the dry season for agricultural activities.

This project is yetto take full effect though. As part of the agenda, the government is targetingrehabilitation of old dams. A DAM safety Act has also been put in place tosafeguard dam operations and all these policies are meant to make wateravailable for active production in the dry season. Itcan therefore be concluded that the country rely majorly on the informationreceived from the agencies in planning its agricultural activities, thusgrowing when there are rains and using the dry season to plan farmingactivities. There are however no management plans and policies for the dryseason that ensure food security.  HOWTHE SYSTEM CAN BE UP SCALED AND EMBEDDED INTO THE CURRENT WORKFLOW ANDPROCESSES IN GHANA SCOPE OF THE SYSTEM, GAPS THAT REMAINSAND SUGGESTIONS FOR UPSCALE Thecurrent drought forecasting portal has a nationwide coverage. Most of the dataand information retrieved refers to data averaged over a particular area mostoften missing the occurrence of events at specific locations. It is importantto obtain farm specific measurement to enhance productivity and action.

These pointspecific data on drought should be related to specific GPS Location linked toregistered farmers. This will ensure that the farmers who are the end usersdevelop trust for the system, own it and also use common tools to obtain grounddata for input into the system. This farm specific ground data coupled withsatellite data will enhance forecasting Theonline drought forecasting portal uses to a large extent satellite data, thereis the need however for the incorporations of ground data for the validation ofrecords from the satellites especially when the different satellite productshave some huge differences between them.

This is a big challenge which needs tobe mitigated. The system with the use of satellite data also aggregates dataand averages them over some spatial resolution. The averaging affects thepresentation of data for specific location and sites. It is important to havepoint values to be able to evaluate the effect of drought on small localities.With the wide distance between the few measuring stations available in thecountry, it is important to establish more ground stations with better and sharpersensors to capture ground data for use in validation. Limited stations in thecountry possess a great challenge for advanced analysis. The satellite datacovers a grid and may overstate quantity at specific locations because of theaveraging factor. Asidethe online system, it will be productive to have a stand-alone system to besynchronized intermittently with the online system so that provided network/internet failure, we can still rely on the standalone system for accurateinformation.

Internet disturbance is a common occurrence and affects systems ofsuch nature. Anotheraddition to making the portal more useful and portable is to develop a smartdevice compactible version for handheld devices and smart phone to enable dataview and the not so resource consuming activities.  Mobile phone and smart devices have become adaily equipment used by individuals including the farmers who are the endbeneficiaries of the system. Providing an app for them will relief the burdenand long procedure in sending information to them.

This will allow the farmersto have accurate and timely data to assist in their work. With constantly use,the system will be appreciated. It is also fairly cheaper acquiring thehandheld devices. Developing a mobile application that works hand in hand withthe system and linking it to the telecommunication networks will help overcomethe challenges of delays in getting timely and accurate information to the endusers. Such delays occurs and often action are not taken at the most importanttimes rendering the effect of the action less than it could have been.

Thereporting mechanism of the system also requires an improvement. It should bepossible for a user to select the information he/she requires which can bedifferent from the report template included in the system. Different users havedifferent needs and it should be possible for each user to obtain reportspecific to the need. Develop different reporting templates for the varioususers of the systemCurrently,the server is hosted in Denmark. Relocating it to Ghana and hosting it withinthe government offices (Water Resources Commission) will help build capacityfor the local working force. Also the provision of administrative rights to thecountry officer registered as users of the system will be a step in the rightdirection. They should be able to add users, should be trained to make changesto some extent, update some information when necessary, restrict users, etc.

This will help build capacity. Furthermore,there is the need for linking the current system to other systems already inexistence to coordinate the information from all these systems. This will offerbetter support to the farmers and work flow in general. There is a majorchallenge in Ghana where each project develops a system without consideringwhat already exists and how they can be improved to enhance the workflowwithout duplicating. Also,when these intelligent systems were not available, the local communities had away of forecasting some of these environmental phenomenon.

It will also serve agreater good to incorporate such knowledge into the developments of systems.This will increase the acceptability of the packages and systems that aredeveloped.   HOW THE SYSTEM CAN BE INTEGRATED INTO THE WORKFLOW 1.     Thesystem stands to benefit organizations and individuals working in the area offorecasting agricultural productivity in terms of efficiency and effectivefarming practices, disaster prevention organizations, non-governmentalorganizations because they will be privilege to quality and readily availabledata as and when needed. It will also help to know when signs of disaster dueto environmental factors becomes glaring and how to mitigate them or perhapsreduce to a minimum the effect it can have. It does not however remove therigorous effort required to analysis and process data for better management.

Garbage in Garbage out, a phenomenon of all systems is still at play in thisregards. The system can be incorporated into the work flow of many organizationssuch as the Water Resources Commission, Ministry of Food and Agriculture(especially the work of the extension offices in the various districts),Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Meteorological Services, HydrologicalServices Department, Ghana Irrigation development Authorities (GIDA), GhanaMeteorological Services (GMet), NGO’s etc. 2.     Thesystem will also be beneficial to research work in the country. Access to datarequired for investigation will be made less stressful and easily available forall. The additional charts and plots will help to enhance and speed up thedecision making process. Verification and validation of the data with grounddata will however be necessarily and even for this, the present work confirmsthat the satellite data represents fairly the observed ground data.

Thesatellite data can also help fill in the gaps of missing data a phenomenoncommon to the manual collection of data and also the gaps created byinsufficient ground stations. 3.     GISlayers in both vector and raster files formats are also available for easydownloading to be used in other GIS software (ArcGIS, QGIS) for furtheranalysis and the provisioning of further informative maps. This is howeverlimited to advance users of the portal.

 RELEVANCE OF THE SYSTEM TO THE CURRENTINSTITUTIONS Majorinstitutions stands to benefit from the full operation of the online portal. Itcan be incorporated into the workflow of most institutions for decision makingand actions.Firstly,it is accessible to all provided individuals apply for accounts, a very easyprocess. Its online nature allows for accessibility from all over the countrywhen the necessary internet infrastructure is available.TheWRC can generate information and disseminate it to the other agencies.

They canas well verify the information with the tools available and further push theinformation to the end users. There can be the provision of information screensin the various administrative units that are in direct contact with the usersof these information.Itcan be used to certify other products that are already in the system, providingadditional support for areas that are not mostly covered in such developmentsbecause they do not fall directly in the basin.Thewater resource commission can use the reports generated in the system ininforming institutions of impending drought events.

NADMO and MOFA can thenfurther inform farmers on the best resistant crops to grow in other to minimizethe lost and make the most of the environmental conditions available. NADMO canalso evaluate and encourage relocation of the farmers to suitable sites. Someagriculture activities can be allowed in the designated buffer zones when theworse conditions present itself all because information is made known ahead ofthe events.GMETand HSD can use the tool to also evaluate results from other products andsupplement the data they receive from the limited available stations. TheMinistry of Finance can rely on data from the system in taking decisions whilesigning unto the ARC project.