Climate change and land degradation have considerably altered the conditions for rain-fed agriculture in Northern Ghana. Furthermore, population pressure has led to continuous farming of available agricultural lands and thus caused land degradation. Crop failure and decreasing yields that result from these environmental changes have caused further impoverishment of what was already Ghana's poorest region. In the past, youth often opted for migration to Ghana's wealthier south, in order to supplement meagre agricultural livelihoods. However, since the mid-1990s many farmers have started to develop the shallow groundwater irrigation (SGI) capacities of their home region for vegetable gardening. This development has helped a great deal to ameliorate poverty and to reverse rural-urban migration. However, while the irrigators were initially able to profit from the development of good road access to northern Ghana and an increasing demand for vegetables in Ghana's south, many now frequently meet with market failure. While the sale of fresh tomatoes is met with stiff competition from small-scale farmers from neighbouring Burkina Faso, Ghana's market is flooded with cheap tomato paste from countries where the production of tomatoes is highly subsidised. Global and regional competition has started to render SGI, developed as a means to locally adapt to environmental change, increasingly risky. As markets become as unreliable as the rains, Ghanaian farmers now face the uphill task of dealing simultaneously with global climate change and globalisation.
climate change economic globalisation market failure local adaptation