The agricultural sector is the single most important sector of the district’s economy. This is because it is the sector which employs more than half of the district’s labour force. The agriculture sector alone employed about 65.4 % of the labour force with 34.6 % female participation in the year 2000 (source: population and housing census report) and 61% of the labour force with 34% female participation in the year 2005(Bibiani-Anhwiaso-Bekwai District survey, 2005).
Type of Agricultural Activities
The major agricultural activities undertaken in the district include animal husbandry, crop farming and mixed farming. Crop farming has been identified to be dominating in the district with a percentage of 59.1 whilst animal husbandry seems to be the least practiced (14.7%). This distribution is shown in the table in pdf file below;
Smallholder farms seem to be dominant in the district. The survey results revealed that 42% of the farmers cultivate less than an acre of land, 31.1% cultivate between one and three acres, 17.8% cultivates between three and five acres and only 9.1% cultivate a little over six acres of land. These findings imply that most of these farmers farm on subsistence level (in the case of food crops). The use of traditional farm implements for farming is also very common among the farmers. The table below shows the size of farm under cultivation. The average farm size in the district is 3.75 acres. This smallholder farms do not encourage large scale production.
Major Food Crops Cultivated.
Almost all the tropical food crops are cultivated in the district. The table below gives a summary of the major food crops cultivated. Plantain is the highest produced food crop in terms of quantum. Cassava yields the highest output in tones per hectare (9.6%)
in the year 2002 and (11.04%) in the year 2004.
Major cash crops produced
Climatic conditions favour the production of such tropical cash crops as cocoa, coffee, oil palm, black pepper and citrus. The table below gives details of the production volumes and areas under cultivation for the major cash crops identified.
Major crops and their production zones
The table below gives the distribution of the major crops and some communities that fall within some of these production zones.
Access to extension services by farmers in the district is very limited. Response from the survey indicated that only 34.6% of the farmers have access to the extension officers with a higher percentage of 65.4% not having access. Limited access to extension services is largely due to the relatively small number of the officers with respect to the farmers available in the district. According to the department of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA) report for the district in 2005, there are only 17 extension officers in the district. These numbers against the farmers’ population of 58,617 give extension officer-farmers ratio of 1:3,412. This is higher than the national average of 1: 2,500 (GPRS, 2002-2004).
Regarding the number of times that these extension officers visit the farmers, the responses are as follows; 35.4% of those who have access are on monthly basis, 61.6% on annual basis and 3% have access occasionally. It can therefore be deduced that extension services to farmers are mainly hampered by the little number of officers available in the entire district. The implication of this is that most of the farmers could not have the opportunity of knowing better farm management practices and improved farming techniques to enable them enhance their production. These responses on frequency of accessibility to extension officers are summarized in the table below;
Only a few farmers (32.9%) have access to storage facilities of any kind in the district. The remaining 67.1% do not have access. Most of these farmers are therefore compelled to sell their produce at low prices to avoid wastage through post harvest loses. The major types of storage facilities used in the district are as follows; cribarns 46% and store rooms 54%. The fact that most of the materials used in the construction of the barns are from local sources and because little or no insecticides are applied most of the crops stored are easily susceptible pest and insects’ infestation.
Post Harvest Loses
There is the incidence of post harvest loses mainly resulting from storage loses in the district and this can largely be attributed the nature and type of storage facilities that were identified to be commonly used by the farmers to store their farm produce. According to the Ministry of Food and Agriculture report for the District in the year 2005, post harvest loses of some produce resulting from lack of access to and poor storage facilities are given as follows; vegetables, 20% and cassava 10%. These storage loses in the District are slightly lower than the national storage loses estimated to be ranging from 8% to 20% (GPRS, 2002-2004). The table below give the post harvest loses of some food crops in the region.
Marketing of Farm Produce
Access to ready market is very crucial as far as the distribution of farm produce from the producing centers to the consuming areas is concerned. A greater percentage of farmers in the district (72.1%) are able to have ready access to their produce whilst only 27.9% are unable to have ready market. The survey result also reveals that most of the farmers are able to find market for their produce in the district with only a few selling theirs outside the district. These farmers who find market within the district will save the trouble of having to incur a lot of cost and spend ample time to look for means of transport to convey their produce from the producing centers to the market areas. The fact that most farmers find market in the district also means that the District Assembly is able to generate substantial amount of money from these market women in the form of market tolls. The availability of ready market for farm produce within the district will also go a long way to enhance food security in the district.
According to the MOFA report for the district in 2005, all the major food crops such as cassava, maize, yam, cocoyam, plantain and palm oil are produce in sufficient quantities in the district. Also the vibrant markets in the district like the Bibiani, Bekwai and Pataboso junction markets contribute considerably to the effective distribution of these farm produce. Moreover, since the district is mainly an agrarian economy most households get access to food from their various farms. The table shows the food security of the district.
The proportion of farmers engaged in the production of livestock (animal husbandry) is only 14.7 %. Most of the domestic animals like goats and sheep are usually kept on small scales (subsistence level).The level of livestock production in are as follows; refer to pdf file below.
Pest and Diseases
All the major crops grown in the District as well as livestock have pest and disease that attack them. In light of this it becomes very imperative for farmers to have increase access to extension and vetinary services so that they can be given new ideas on how to deal with these pest and diseases.
Major Co-operative Societies.
Co-operative societies play a vital role by promoting the interest and welfare of their members. These cooperative societies can form a united front to determine the prices of their farm produce as well as enhance the chances of members contracting loans from the banks which would not have been possible with the individual farmers.
Major Agriculture Projects
In order to help improve upon the quality and quantity of agricultural output which has been the overall aim of government, a number of agricultural projects are currently being undertaken in the district. It is important to identify these projects so as to avoid duplication of efforts by proposing the same project for the same area.
For tables refer to pdf file