Agriculture is the main economic activity in the district, employing nearly 68% of the population. The main occupations include farming on subsistence levels in crop production, livestock rearing and fishing. Other areas which offer employment opportunities to the populace include public service, retail/wholesale trade, food processing, textile and leather works, in that order of importance.
Under employment rather than unemployment is the main problem facing the population of the district. A substantial number of farmers in the district also become underemployed during the agricultural off-season. Tono is the site of a large irrigation dam. About 400 small scale farmers are eligible to farm to the project area.
The main crops grown through irrigation are rice, maize, tomatoes, and millet, sorghum and soya beans. The dam serves as an important protein source with its supply of fish. To produce fish all year round, significant progress must be made in the development of fish ponds, handling and preservation of fish on a more sustainable basis, improvements in accessibility to marketing, processing and storage facilities.
There is the need to teach farmers and fishermen preservation and processing techniques as a means of adding more value to the shelf-life of their produce. Storage facilities in the district are very inadequate. Farm produce continues to be stored in household barns which provide little protection against pests.
The processing of food crops is also rudimentary, particularly in the rural areas. Millet, maize, sorghum and rice are pounded in mortars or milled on grinding stones. Oil is extracted from groundnuts and shea nuts using similar rudimentary methods. Technology used for farming in the district needs to be improved upon, having been dominated by the traditional hoe and cutlass.
The use of bullock ploughs is however quite widespread in the district. A few farmers have started to use tractors. The District Assembly is making efforts to improve upon productivity as well as the actual volume of activity in the agricultural sector and these efforts have been designed to fit in with the identified investment opportunities in the sector.
Fishing and fish farming are high on the agenda, especially in the area of using improved technology and preservation processing techniques. Also, there are lots of potentials in non-traditional crop production, which in turn, provides opportunities for agro-processing and export. The District Assembly is working to unlock these potentials in harmony with private investment.
One strategy to be employed is the initiation of co-operative ventures to develop crops on commercial basis. The soil types, savannah onchrosol and ground water laterite, make the production of cereals such as maize, millet and rice; legumes like groundnuts, soya beans, cowpeas; and vegetables like tomatoes, okro, green leaves and pepper are very viable and lucrative.
Indeed, production of this wide variety of crops forms the basis for agro-processing industries to be established in the district. Here, small and medium size enterprises are already growing rapidly in areas such as groundnut oil and shea butter extraction, processing of dawadawa and pito brewing.
Beside the agricultural sector, other small and medium size industries that thrive in the district include blacksmithing, cotton spinning, pottery and bricks moulding. The terrain of the district offers a perfect base for livestock production on a large-scale, which in turn, sets up opportunities for meat processing and food canning.
Beside this, the district’s proximity to Burkina Faso offers the opportunity for lucrative marketing, trade and commerce between that country and Ghana on a more sustainable basis. There are also major investment potentials in the provision of housing.
Investing in the construction of low-cost prefabricated houses will be a scheme worth doing, considering the rate at which Bolgatanga is developing, because of the foreseeable future, workers would prefer to live in the more serene Navrongo and commute to work at Bolgatanga.
Already, the District Assembly is putting measures in place to train youths in the manufacture of stabilized soil blocks from local materials. These youths would form a ready source of skilled manpower for investors engaging in housing construction.
The district is fortunate to be blessed with numerous investment potentials embedded in its natural and man-made resources around. These immeasurable prospects exist in large-scale farming and agro-processing, small and medium scale industry development, Banking and financial services, tourism and the hospitality industry development and promotion, estate development etc.
This is the second man-made dam in the country. This is an investment opportunity for both livestock production and large scale farming in the district. One the other hand as a tourism potential with a serene environment, it can be developed into a country side shore for relaxation as well as water sports, cruising on the lake, swimming etc.
Tomatoes production and other vegetables and grains are most widely produced here and transported in their raw stage to other parts of the country for consumption. Larges scale production and processing of these produce could add value to the produce and result in higher value hence generate appreciable income for the people aside meeting the market demand for them in the dry The most common form of extractive activities in the District are sand and clay mining which are basically meant to satisfy domestic and other related informal needs such as building construction, pottery and other artifacts production.
Natural Resource Enrichment
The District soil is known to have large deposits of clay that can be exploited for the development of burnt bricks and tiles for the construction houses, pottery making, ceramic/ porcelain objects and paint industries. This is a highly potential natural resource when tapped and developed would promote enough growth for the districts and people.
The district has a lot of granitic rocks choice are found in the rock debris that can be developed into a quarrying factory for its extraction. Shale and granite covers approximately 60 per cent of the District’s land area. Currently quarrying activities are carried out on a small scale by settlements who gather especially stones and sold to contractors. These rocks can easily be quarried for road and housing construction. Some of these rocks have fine crevices and can be shaped into ornamental and design blocks. Its comparative advantage is the creation of employment for the people around and as well a boost in their income generation.
It is therefore imperative to note that a detailed mineralogical study is essential to ascertain the definite quantity and quality of the various rocks deposits in the district for industrial purposes and their development.