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Efforts needed to measure greenhouse gas emission in rice production

By: By Ama Amankwah Baafi
Participants at the workshop
Participants at the workshop

A SURVEY’s findings of selected rice fields has recommended for more support to be directed to correctly measuring Greenhouse Gas emission (GHG) in the different rice production systems in Ghana.

The survey pointed out that available data on GHG measurement was very scanty, generally, especially as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) tasked with GHG emission inventory preparation relied largely on indirect methods to estimate GHG from agricultural sources.

The study on 'Agricultural Management Practices to Reduce GHG emissions in Rice Cultivation in Ghana', was commissioned by the United Nations University Institute for Natural Resources in Africa (UNU-INRA).

The aim was to identify a set of recommended management practices for the rice sector in Ghana that potentially reduces GHG emission and concurrently achieve high crop productivity.

Some findings
The survey of the rice fields conducted in three production systems — irrigated rice at Asutsuare, and its environs, rain-fed low land rice production systems at Hohoe and its environs in Volta and Oti regions and rain-fed upland-lowland production systems in the Northern, North East and Savannah regions, where fertiliser application were highest (160 kg) at Asutsuare, resulting in high average yield of 4,300kg/ha.

Fertiliser application in the rain-fed lowland rice systems was moderate and was low in the rain-fed upland/lowland systems in northern Ghana resulting in average yield.

Presenting the findings at a workshop in Accra, a Senior Research Fellow at the University of Ghana’s Soil and Irrigation Research Centre, Kpong, Dr Dilys MacCarthy, said the differences in fertiliser application and water management systems might have implications for GHG emissions from the different rice production systems.

"Rice biomass burning was a common practice within the production systems and there was little extension officer and farmer literacy regarding the linkages between management and GHG emission and climate change in general,'' she stated.

She said there was an urgent need for the establishment of a dedicated functioning laboratory for GHG emissions measurement in the country.

In the interim, a Professor at the Department of Soil Science at the UGL, Prof. Samuel Adiku, said the adoption of GHG emission lowering rice variety should be encouraged.

"In terms of residue management, the development of a biochar industry that subsists on the rice residue biomass from farmers' fields as feedstock and supplies charred residue to farmers' plots is a likely major way to reduce GHG emissions from rice fields,'' he said.

The UNU-INRA noted that rice was the second most important staple in Ghana with more than half of the rice consumed imported.

It said a marginal increase in local rice production observed in 2017 was attributed to improved yield and increased area put under cultivation under the planting for food and jobs initiative.

Thus, as efforts were being made to intensify rice production across the country for food security it was important to build a sound scientific knowledge of best agricultural management practices that enhanced agricultural production at a minimal cost to the environment and society.