Major activities in Agricultural sector are crop farming and livestock production employing about 70% of the active working population.
Farms in the District are, on the average, small in sizes and farm holdings are scattered. The average farm size per farmer is about 1 hectare. Agricultural production is near subsistence with very few of the farmers engaged in plantation farming. Majority of the farmers are involved in crop farming and the main crops cultivated are:
- Starchy staples like cassava, cocoyam, and plantain,
- Legumes like beans; vegetables like tomatoes, okro, garden eggs, pepper, cabbage.
- Tree crops like oil palm, cocoa, citrus, bamboo;
- Cereals like maize and rice
The predominant farm practice is mixed cropping. The crops grow in mixed stands normally inter-cropped with vegetable, and cultivated for both home consumption and or sale.
Land Tenure System
Land is a very critical ingredient in production and its ownership and use have a significant effect on agricultural production. In the District land is acquired in several ways. These include:
(i) Individual ownership or inheritance form family;
(ii) Rent or hiring from landowners;
The land tenure arrangements include:
a. Owner occupancy, where the farmer is the owner of the land on which he/she works and provides all the necessary inputs for production.
b. Share tenancy – This is the “abunu” or the “abusa” share cropping system, where the owners lease the land to the farmer, and the farm produce shared equally (abunu) or a third goes to the landlord, while two-thirds goes to the tenant (abusa).
There is no doubt that this system has all the inherent social injustice which perpetuates feudalism. There is uncertainty of duration on the lands, which appears to be disincentive among share cropping and fixed rent tenants. There appears to be little or no innovation as to the adoption of important “labour investments” as improving drainage, the use of machines, chemicals and pest control. As they may be uncertain as to the length of tenure, these tenant farmers tend to invest in assets that are easily marketable (or easily be moved to another farm) and in capital goods which have shorter gestation periods. The tenant farmer is, therefore, an inferior production function. Share-cropping tenants use fewer of the variable inputs as labour and capital than the landowners. Thus, given a land size, a tenant farmer has a lower labour-land ratio than an owner farmer.
Plots and Farm Sizes
A feature identified in the District during the baseline survey was the multiplicity of plots of land per farmer. These plots of land, all small in size, were scattered over the area, often at considerable distance from one another. A greater percentage of the farmers have 2 or more farm plots with farm sizes ranging between 1 – 5 hectares.
Such distribution of farm holdings in different places means farmers do not practice block farming. The small farm size constitutes a remarkable barrier to agriculture and makes efficient production difficult, as it does not encourage the establishment and maintenance of economic layout. Variation in the size of farms occupied by individual families at different stages in their life is also not provided for. It is, therefore, uneconomical to introduce the processes of agricultural innovations like mechanization, irrigation, etc on farms, which are small in size.
Types of Crops Cultivated
Crop production is mainly traditional and generally near subsistence level as majority of the farmers do not have access to machinery for farming. The major crops cultivated are cassava, maize, citrus fruits, cocoyam, plantain, vegetables, oil palm, cocoa, etc. Maize is planted twice during the year, i.e during the major and minor seasons.
A greater percentage of the maize cultivated are harvested when dry, stored in cribs and barns and disposed off in the lean season. The greater part of the maize cultivated is consumed with a little going for the preparation of animal feed.
The farm implements used are cutlasses, hoes, axes/mattocks, and equipment like spraying machines and prunes. Based on the survey, almost all the farmers use both cutlasses and hoes.
The use of modern agricultural technologies is very limited. Traditional practices such as bush fallowing, slash and burn etc. Are still widespread? This and many others have limited the farmer’s ability to increase the size of their operations and discourage them from adopting new and modern agricultural technology.
Another crucial farming input is labour. Considering the simple farm tools in use, there is the need for a high degree of manpower. A factor in labour is the age of the farmer. The average (modal) age of the farmers range between 40 and 72 years.
Farming in the area is, therefore, undertaken by the old people who do not have the necessary energy to work and manage the farms. They depend heavily on household and hired labour. Hired labour is, however, scarce and expensive. Farmers use a combination of household, hired and co-operative labour. The use of hired labour is evident during the peak labour period, especially during land clearing and weeding.
Labour cost is high for most farmers above their limited resources. As a result of limited financial resources, the farms are not properly maintained and these, in the long run, affect output.
Application of Seeds and Agro-Chemicals
The farmers use two types of seeds. These are local seeds and improved seeds. These seeds are acquired from three main sources, namely, form previous crop harvest, private traders and the Ministry of Food and Agriculture.
The use of organic manure, chemical fertilizers and other agro-chemicals is on a limited scale though increasing steadily. In the use of fertilizers, for example, over 50% of the farmers do not apply any kind of fertilizers. The types of fertilizers, applied are compound fertilizers (15:15:15) and Sulphate of Ammonia. The current price of fertilizer as given by the farmers for 15:15:15 is between ¢195,000.00 and ¢200,000.00 per mini bag, while Sulphate of Ammonia sells between ¢150,000.00 and ¢165,000.00 per mini bag.
The prices of fertilizers purchased from private traders are extremely high. This deters farmers from the application of fertilizers, and since the soil is cultivated continuously, the fertility of the soil is low, leading to low production.
On the use of agro-chemical, few of the farmers apply herbicides (weed killers) pesticides and fungicides. The prices of these chemicals are high, while some farmers abuse these chemicals due partly to inadequate knowledge and partly also due to mischief. The limited use of agro-chemicals and improved seeds is one of the major causes of low agricultural productivity in the District.
Capital is an important input for investing in crop farming, as without it little can be done. The principal source of funding to farming activities was from the farmers’ own savings. Other sources were private many lenders, relatives and a limited percentage from the banks.
The role of existing financial institutions and other sources of acquiring credit are minimal though increasing steadily. The limited number of credit facilities is due to the cumbersome procedures and the lack of collateral demanded by the banks and the mistrust generated by the failure of some farmers to pay back loans earlier taken. Few farmers in the district, therefore, benefit from credit facilities as most of the farmers cannot meet the requirements for obtaining loans. There is a strong desire among farmers to have access to credit facilities from sources other than money lenders as the interest rate charged by money lenders are extraordinary high. Indeed the minimal use of farmers associations in the district makes it difficult for farmers to mobilize credit.
Modern storage facilities such as silos, warehousing with dry facilities, etc, are not in existence in the district. The main types of storage facilities in use are the traditional barn, a few improved cribs and roof storage.
Maize is the only grain with an elaborate storage system. Facilities for the storage of other farm products are not available resulting in high post harvest losses. Processing as a means of conserving output is at a very low level and the traditional methods used are not efficient. These compel the farmers to sell their farm produce at low prices during the harvest.
Urban-based middlemen within and outside the district undertake marketing of farm produce. Most of the farmers sell their produce at the nearest local market to these middlemen who in turn send them to other marketing centres especially the Oda market for sale. The pricing of agricultural produce, which is determined by supply and demand but negotiated by the middlemen, is unfavourable to the farmers. Prices of farm produce are therefore, very low especially when during harvest time when there is a glut and serve as disincentive to the farmers. The poor roads to farming areas have also created for the farmers’ limited access to the bigger markets, which can offer better price for their crops.
Most of the farmers engaged in crop farming also keep livestock. The types of animals reared are sheep, goats, pigs cattle and poultry. These are reared as supplementary activities to meet part of the protein requirements and to earn additional income.
The largest animal production activity is poultry. The animals reared are kept in styles pens and hen coops. The goats, sheep and pigs are fed through the free grazing method that is grazing on the open vegetation, while the others especially poultry are fed in enclosed areas. Animal disease is an area of great concern. These include endoparasites, estoparasites, PPR, Gumboro Newcastle and coccidiossis. Veterinary Services is offered by the Ministry of Food and Agriculture in the District. Other constraints are poor breeding stock, inadequate use of extension services on animal production and the increasingly high costs of animal feed and drugs.
Agriculture mechanization is very low in the District. Farming is generally rear subsistence level as majority of the farmers do not have access to machinery for farming. Available mechanization equipments are used for rice milling, oil palm processing, cassava processing and corn milling.
Cutlasses, hoes, axes/mattock, spray machines and prunners are farm implements mostly used in the District. Traditional practices such as bush fallowing, slash and burn etc are still widespread. These have limited the farmer’s ability to increase their farm size and for that matter adopt new modern agriculture technologies.
The use of improved seedlings/hybrids with respect to maize, cocoa, oil palm, citrus is widespread in the District. However, due to issues relating to cost and availability of improve materials, some farmers are forced to use uncertified seed and sometimes local varieties of crops for planting. Agrochemical dealers of Oda and other towns provide sources for the purchase of seeds, while seedlings are purchased from nurseries ran by private individuals who also source materials from outfits such as in Kusi (oil palm) and Okumaning Agriculture station (citrus). The limited use of agro-chemical and improved seeds is therefore one of the major causes of low agricultural output in the district.
There is no major irrigation facility in the District at the moment. However efforts are being made by MOFA to promote the system in the District through various projects.
Small scale farmers on their own ways have been resorting to the use of pumping machines for irrigating their farms especially for dry season farming. The system is also further promoted by MOFA under FABS project to support farmer groups and individuals to acquire small pumping machines.
Value Added Activities or Potentials
Value addition is being pursued with the widespread processing of oil palm and kernel oil in the District. Cassava is also being processed into gari in some communities.
There are only a few known viable fish ponds in the District. The main difficulty lies with the cost of construction of ponds.
Commerce in the District is cent-red mainly on trading. This involves wholesalers and retailers in primary commodities. The commercial activities are undertaken at the markets and serve as income generating avenues of the District Assembly. These markets are trading outlets for agricultural produce and inputs.
The district has 15 daily markets and 8 periodic markets that are geographically distributed in the district. Greater volume of trade takes place at the Akim Swedru, Akim Aperade and Akim Achiase markets.
The biggest of these markets is the Akim Achiase market. It covers an area of 1.3 hectares. It has about 60% of permanent structures and 40% of temporary structures. This market is used as a daily and weekly market. The market days are Mondays and Thursday s. The estimated number of traders on market days is 751 but the market can accommodate only 500 traders. The estimated number of traders on non-market days is 320. The market is therefore, congested to the extent that traders have encroached on the only vehicular access to the market. There is also a spill over onto the adjoining lorry park. The extension of sheds into the walkways by some traders has also compounded the problem. Facilities available in the market include 2 sheds, 398 lockable stores, 353 open stalls, I butchers’ shop and a 16 seated tipping bucket toilet and urinal 20 meters away.
The area of influence of the market includes the Eastern, Brong Ahafo, Ashanti, and Greater Accra Regions. The main items of trade are agricultural and industrial produce.
Agricultural Extension Services
The main aim of the MOFA Extension Service in the district is to address the felt needs of the farmers and also to assist them to increase agricultural production through the transfer of improved production and post production technologies that would support better living standards. This is normally done through seminars and demonstrations. About 68% of farmers have access to extension services. The district is divided into four (4) sub-districts namely Oda, Achiase, Akroso and Swedru.
Each sub-district is manned by a District Development Officer (DDO). The sub-districts are also divided into operational areas, which are also manned by Agriculture Extension Agents (AEAs). Under this scheme, the AEA farmer ratio has been reduced hence the average in the district is 1:160.
Effect of human activity on farm-lands and production
Mining activities over the year has wrecked considerable havoc on farm lands by stripping the land of the topsoil and also leaving gaping holes most times filled with water and serving as death traps to unsuspecting people.
Agric production by itself has also rendered some cultivated areas grassland instead of the usual forest cover. Practices such as inappropriate land preparation and irregular use of fertilizers to sustain growth of cultivated crops have lead to a reduction of soil fertility
FACTORS AFFECTING AGRIC PRODUCTION IN THE DISTRICT
- Low agricultural production
- Low level of technology
- Inadequate use of agricultural extension services
- Aged farmers
- Shortage and high cost of labour
- High cost of farm inputs and untimely delivery
- Limited credit facilities
- Frequent land disputes
- Poor marketing network and facilities
- Low prices of farm produce.
Date Created : 11/24/2017 1:37:29 AM