Every country has its ecological zones and most importantly it helps to determine type of crops that can grow in the different regions of the country. Ecology is influenced by various characteristics such as weather patterns, climate, rainfall and many more. Weather is the climatic condition of an area for some time, like a day while climate is the general weather for a very long period of time like more than thirty years. Ecology focuses on the different types of climate. The ecology of a particular region determines what can grow there. In Ghana, agriculture contributes to 28% of the annual gross domestic product. The agriculture also has contributed to employment in Ghana. Ecological zones in Ghana have are different and they are five of them.
The five agro-ecological zones in Ghana are indicated by the Food and Agriculture organizations. The agro ecological zones are named depending on their rainfall, soils, and the general crops that are found in the region. Every crop is specific of the Agro ecological zone.
Characteristics of Agro ecological zones in Ghana
All the agro ecological zones in have specific characteristics that define them. A rain-forest has characteristics like high rainfall throughout the year. This depends on several factors like weather and human activities which have a direct influence on the weather changes. Generally the northern part of Ghana is characterized with less rainfall as compared to the southern part. The northern part is made of the Guinea Savannah and Sudan Savannah. The southern region is mostly made of the high rain forest and coastal Savannah. The coastal area is influenced by the wind that comes from the ocean. The most dominant type of crops is the plantain and sorghum, millet among others. Below are the various agro ecological zones in Ghana, which includes their specific characteristics;
1. High rain forests
The inter tropical convergence zone is the region responsible for the rain-forests. With about 40% of all animal species, the rain-forests play a great role in sustaining the flora and fauna. The rain-forests are home to most of the medicinal herbs that both people and animals take to heal. The rain-forests also help in oxygen turnover, by taking in the excess carbon IV oxide from the air and releasing oxygen. In most cases a rain-forest has little to no undergrowth due to the poor penetration of sunlight because of the canopy formed by the trees. The rain-forests produce high quality hardwoods that are very important in textiles.
The rain-forest in Ghana is located in the tropical parts of Ghana in the South westerns region. The rain-forest experiences high rainfall of up to 22000 mm. The rain-forest is made up of trees that are home to most wild animals. The trees are mainly hardwood and the area that surrounds the rain-forest is actually more fertile. The soils and the rains are a good combination for crops to grow such as roots and plantain. The plantain is a basic food crop in Ghana and this area supports its growth.
2. Sudan Savannah
The Savannah is tropical grassland that generally has warm temperatures all year round. The rainfall is mostly seasonal and the people at this region get the advantage of herding livestock. The Savannah has dispersed trees and there is enough sunlight for undergrowth which is mostly grass and shrubs. The Savannah is a very important part in the food web. The Sudan Savannah has all these characteristics and people herd all year round. The Sudan Savannah is one of the distinct Ghana regions that experience relatively high rainfall.
The Sudan Savannah is located on the top most north eastern area of Ghana. This region is characterized with rainfall of approximately 1000mm annually. The land is mostly used for annual food crops like maize and it is also very suitable for livestock. The grasses in the Savannah are very nutritious to the livestock. The animals, cows reared in this area are used for dairy and also beef. The main crops that grow in this region are millet, sorghum and cow-peas. This region has very rich soils that are a good base for such crops. The length of growing in this area is 150-160. The main land systems are food crops and livestock. The main crops that grow in this area are millet sorghum and also cow-peas.
3. Deciduous forest
The deciduous forest region is made up of trees that shed their leaves at particular seasons. The region that has this particular climate experiences warm and moist summers and cool winters. That aside, the deciduous forest are have diverse tree species and also soil types. The trees bloom over time and once the weather changes then the trees shed their leaves. The vegetation map of Ghana clearly shows the kind of vegetation that grows in each part of the country.
The deciduous forest receives rainfall of 1500mm annually. The deciduous region covers land of 3% of the total area. During the major season, the length of growing is 150-160 and just like the rain-forest zone, the dominant land use system is forest and plantains. Most farmers plant roots such as arrowroot and plantains. This is a very good use of land considering the climate. Deciduous forest region also has very fertile soils that favor the growth of food crops. The deciduous forest is mainly made of deciduous trees. And shrubs are part of the vegetation.
4. Transition zone
This is the zone that separates the forest and the Savannah. It is called a transition zone because it shares its climate with the Savannah. It receives an annual rainfall of 1200mm, which is quite fair as compared to the forest and the Savannah. The transition zone covers 28% of land which makes up to 180-200 days of rowing. This means that farmers have adequate time to prepare their land, and plant when there is rainfall. The transition zone mainly supports annual food crops and also crops like maize, roots and also plantain. In the transition zone, the rainfall in Ghana has shifts because of the mixed weather.
5. Guinea Savannah
The Guinea Savannah receives rainfall of 1100mm annually. This is less as compared to the transition zone. This is because the Guinea Savannah is near the coastal area. This area covers most of Ghana. It covers 63% of the total area. The Guinea Savannah is the most dominant climate in Ghana. This climate allows a growing season of 180-200 days. Actually this is the longest period of growing in the whole of Ghana’s climate. As stated earlier because weather patterns change and they are influenced by the climate of a particular place. The Guinea Savannah uses systems for annual food crops and also cash crops. The main food crops grown in this region are sorghum and maize. This is one of the ecological zones in Ghana that offer the longest growing period. Farmers in this area enjoy the benefit of planting on season and off season due to the rain patterns.
5. Coastal Savannah
The Coastal Savannah is the last agro ecological region in Ghana. This Savannah is manly characterized by convectional rainfall due to the nearness to the water body. This area is mainly characterized by warm temperatures all year round. Farmers also get to do farming because this weather has shifts such that they change over a period of time.
Like this name suggests, the coastal region generally experiences less rainfall of 800mm annually. The major season has 100-110. The minor season has 50 major days of planting. This region is mainly meant for annual food crops. The main food crops that are growing in the season are roots and maize. The staple food for most Ghanaians is plantain and even in the coastal region the roots grow very well too. The palm trees are also a defining characteristic in the coast and palm oil is also very dominant in Ghana. Most importantly, the coastal region offers sandy beaches that gives room for tourists both local and international all year round. The coastal region in Ghana is part of the capital city Accra and due to the high population in this region, agriculture is emphasized.
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The agro ecological zones in Ghana have been consistent over the years. However there has been a change in weather due to global warming as a result of human activities. This has allowed the agricultural sector to grow consistently. The staple food crop of most Ghanaians has been influenced by the climatic patterns in the country. That aside, people are in a better position to determine the soil types and also come up with different ways of ensuring that there is adequate rainfall. Movements have been established before to discourage deforestation because without trees then there is no rain. Tree planting has been encouraged in institutions like schools, and people have come together to ensure that such initiatives are followed to the letter.