The economy of Suaman District is largely agrarian, of which about 79.2% of the labour force are engaged in agriculture and its related activities. Out of the said percentage nearly 44.7% are females.
Different varieties of crops thrive well in the Suaman District due to its favourable temperature and rainfall pattern. Notable among the crops grown by farmers are: Cocoa, Cassava, Plantain Maize, Oil palm, Citrus, Rice, Cocoyam and Vegetables. Whereas rice cultivation takes place on wetlands, vegetables are cultivated at the fringes of the wetlands and parcels of land between cocoa and food crop farms. Though rice production is new in the district, it is gradually gaining ground. Cocoa is the major cash crop grown on large scales in the district while cassava is the major food crop but usually cultivated on small scales.
Methods of Farming and Farming systems
The main methods of farming are: sedentary farming and land rotation with short fallow period. The major farming practices are slashed and burn, or slash and spray with herbicides. The farming systems include mono-cropping in the case of cocoa, rice and oil palm, while mixed cropping include maize, cassava and plantain intercrop. Many of the farmers practice mixed farming involving the cultivation of food and cash crops together with rearing of poultry and small ruminants. The main farming inputs and tools used are local and hybrid seeds as well as traditional or rudimentary implements such as cutlass and hoe. Mechanized and irrigation farming are not available.
Land Tenure System and Ownership
Land in the Suaman district is owned by the traditional authorities (i.e. Nananom or Chiefs) and the natives who obtained parcels of lands from the chiefs. In the case of farm land, it is either self-owned, family owned or cultivated for share cropping. Land is also obtained for agricultural purposes through leasehold arrangements. However, few of the farmers cultivate parcels of land that they purchased outright.
Suaman district experiences two farming seasons which usually appear as one continuous season. That is, Major and Minor seasons which are determined by the rainfall pattern which is bimodal, with June and October being the peak seasons. The annual rainfall average ranges between 1500mm and 1800mm. Meteorological data from 1990 to 2009 however points to an increase in both the intensity and average annual rainfall volume in the district for the past 18 years. This situation has often led to rising volumes of water bodies in the district with the resultant effects of periodic flooding of farms and settlements along rivers with huge social cost arising from loss of lives and properties and disruption of economic activities for days.
The climatic condition is Wet-Semi Equatorial type with an annual average temperature of 26°C. March and April are the hottest months, i.e. before the onset of the early rains. The district is getting warmer and warmer during the days and nights presumably due to climatic changes and global warming effects. Relative humidity is between 75% and 80% during the wet season and decreases to about 70% for the rest of the year.
The Agricultural Department of the Suaman District Assembly has 5 staffs that provide agricultural extension services to farmers instead of 16 staffs as at May 2014. The extension agent-farmer ratio in the district is high (i.e. more than the national figure of 1:2,000). COCOBOD also has staffs that provide agricultural services to cocoa farmers. The high number of farmers to an Agricultural Extension Agents (AEAs) limited contact hours and days between farmers and the AEAs and has made the adoption of modern technologies very sluggish and low.
Access to Farm Credit and Farm Inputs
There is a branch of Ghana Commercial Bank and a Rural Bank at Dadieso that provide credit facilities to farmers. Some individuals also provide soft loans to farmers and made it payable on mutually agreed terms. In the case of farm inputs, they are readily available in farming communities for sale to farmers by private companies.
Crop yields in the Suaman district are quite low but specific data on yield figures for the various crops were not available as at May 2014.
Storage of farm produce such as maize is traditional in nature involving the use of facilities such as hanging of harvested maize crops on roofs in the kitchen over fire-sight and the use of traditional barns. Some farmers also use improved narrow cribs but on a smaller scale. The perishable nature of the farm produce compels food crop farmers to sell most of their crops immediately after harvest and store a little mainly for home consumption. This situation reduces the value of farm produce and financial rewards to the farmers. Post-harvest losses are therefore quite high in the district varying from 20 to about 35%.
Marketing of Produce
Food crop farmers in the Suaman district have access to two major markets. These are Dadieso and Kwasuo markets though scattered mini farm-gate markets exist in the district. Access to markets in the nearby districts such as Enchi, Asankragua and Juaboso are available. Some of the farmers do travel as far as Kumasi to sell and also purchase other farm and non-farm related items. In the case of cocoa, many Private Licensed Buying Companies are operating in the district with Produce Buying Company (PBC) being the major buyer. The Quality Control Division, an agency of COCOBOD, is responsible for quality assurance at the district level. Bags of cocoa beans which have been inspected and passed are evacuated to Takoradi harbour for export. Cocoa has guaranteed market price and so cocoa farmers always have the assurance of selling their produce to COCOBOD through Licensed Buying Companies in the district.
Small-scale livestock production takes place in the Suaman District. Common among them are: sheep, goats, domestic birds, cattle and pigs. Some level of commercial poultry is undertaken near Dadieso. Meat is therefore relatively expensive and so most of the inhabitants consequently depend on frozen fish and chicken to meet their animal protein requirements.
Problems Facing the Agricultural Sector
Farmers in the Suaman district cultivate cash and food crops, rear animals and perform other agriculture related activities including processing. Even so, they are faced with numerous agriculture problems such as: declining soil fertility, low crop yield, pest attack, livestock & poultry mortality, low technology adoption, inadequate extension service, and poor farm maintenance. A significant proportion of agricultural land is under cocoa cultivation, and so the outputs of traditional food staples are low paving way for food insecurity in the district. Many people therefore depend on imported rice supplemented by some locally produced rice in the district. The Department of Agriculture of the Suaman District Assembly having identified the said problems prepared Annual Action Plan to address them. This Action Plan is subject to yearly review to mitigate emerging challenges as and when necessary.
Fish farming is undertaken on a very small scale in the Suaman district. Though the Department of Agriculture in the district is expected to participate in the education of fish farmers, Ministry of Fishery has the mandate to educate, promote and support fish farmers in the district. This is due to the fact that Ministry of Fishery has been carved out of Ministry of Food and Agriculture to oversee fishery activities in Ghana.
Source of Farm Labour
The sources of farm labour in the Suaman district are: family labour, hired labour and sometimes through importation of farm workers from the northern regions of Ghana. Community communal labour pool popularly known as “Nnoboa kuo’’ also serves as a sources of farm labour but on a minimal scale.
Date Created : 11/18/2017 12:16:27 PM