Life in Northern Ghana

Climate

The climate in the Northern part of Ghana has three outstanding sorts of climatical conditions:
  • The raining season in July, August and September
  • The Harmattan season (the cold season with wind and dust) in November till middle of February
  • The hot dry season beginning in February with its peak in March and April.

Trees

Trees in the area perform important functions to provide food (leaves and seeds) animal fodder, firewood, medicine, pesticides. Trees are important means to of control soil erosion, increase soil fertility and provide shade for humans and animals. 
Trees are spread over the savannah landscape and gives it its special enhancement. The biodiversity in tree vegetation used to be high, but is decreasing due to over exploitation by people in search for firewood and by animals who damage trees during the dry season in search for fodder. Also sacred shrines and groves exist and are traditional nature reserves protected by the traditional taboos and norms. In Sirigu they are widely spread e.g. Agunwoko, Afobnini. Treeplanting projects try to link to these groves and shrines while traditionally they endure the protection of the society. The characteristic trees are: 
Toa (baobab), tanga (sheabuttertree), zaanka (accacia albida), dua (dawadawa), neem, gea (ebony), mango and aarga (blackfruit). Species under the threat of extinction include the baobab, acacia albida and dawadawa.

Wildlife

The savannah landscape harbours several birds, reptiles and mammals. The hawk, vulture, hornbill, weaver bird and cattle egret are common birds. Lizards and snakes (pythons) and crocodiles are the main reptiles. Elephants are very rare in the region.

Agricultural system

All people in the rural areas practice agriculture, it is a combination of growing food products and keeping animals (agriculture and animal-husbandry). It is a subsistance activity, mainly to serve the need for home consumption. Only small quantities of foodproduction is marketed. The hoe is the most important tool for the work on the field.

However, those who can afford it may use a pair of bullocks and plough for landpreparation. Typical crops grown are:

  • Sorghum (kemolga) is used for brewing local beer (pito) and porridge (TZ).
  • Early millet (naara) is used for TZ and other food items, it is the main staple food.
  • Groundnuts (sinkaam); groundnuts are eaten raw, roasted or boiled and groundnutsoup is one of the most popular dishes.
  • Okra: rich of vitamins used in various meals and soup.
  • Beans (tea) is used to provide the main proteins in the diet.
  • Frafra potato (peesa) and sweet potato (nanugla) are both traditional root crops and provide carbohydrate.
  • Neri (sama), a calabash seed crop for soup.
  • Kenaf (berisi); for vegetable soup with groundnuts. The stalk is used for fibers to weave baskets, mats aand rope making.

Domestic animals

Cows, goats, sheep, fowls, guinea fowls and donkeys are held on every farm. To possess a lot of animals, specially cows, is an expression of wealth. 
Animals provide food, serve as savings and as buffer for the lean seasons. They are also used for traditional sacrifices and paying dowries. For the ones who can afford the cowa (bullocks) are also used for animal traction. A horse is hardly seen in these environments. Village chiefs may have a horse and when he rides it the horse is covered with decorations of leather. The expected or unexpected visitor will often leave the compound with eggs, a chicken or guinea fowl.

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