Agriculture is the main economic activity in Offinso Municipal. There are two dominant agricultural activities carried out in the municipality namely; crop and animal production. Fish farming is also done, but on a very limited scale, even though potential for expansion exist.
Crop production is the main farming enterprise in the municipality. Major crops grown in the municipality include maize, cassava, plantain, cocoyam, citrus, cocoa, rice, vegetables and pawpaw. Majority of these crops are cultivated on small-scale basis. However, few individual farmers are engaged in large-scale farming especially in citrus and cocoa.
However, there are inadequate processing facilities in the municipality to add value to the farm produce; as a result most of the produce go waste since the existing market is unable to absorb all the supplies especially during a season of bumper harvest. Table 9 shows the different crops and areas in which they are grown in the municipality.
The production levels of major crops grown in the municipality for 2009 and 2013 are presented in Table 10
As can be seen from the table above, 14,550 hectares, 7,645 hectares, 1,628 hectares, 5,974 hectares and 305 hectares of maize, cassava, cocoyam, plantain and rice respectively were cultivated in 2009. Production also stood at 20,370 tons, 80,578 tons, 9,717 tons, 63,982 tons and 336 tons for maize, cassava, cocoyam, plantain and rice respectively in 2009.
The production of maize, cassava and rice in 2013 increased by 138.9%, 304.6% and 207.7% respectively. However, there was a decline in the production of cocoyam and plantain in 2013.
The decline in yield of plantain is attributed to bad weather (high winds and sporadic rainfall pattern). There is the need to put in place measures to improve and sustain production of these crops, because low production levels have serious ramifications in terms of low incomes, increase poverty, food security and low revenue generation for the municipality.
Most of the livestock rearing activities are meant to supplement nutritional requirement and earn additional income. However, a few individual farmers are into commercial production of poultry and pigs. Table11 shows the livestock and poultry production areas in the municipality.
The production levels of major farm animals in the municipality for 2009 and 2013 are presented in Table11. From the table, it can be seen that the production levels of all the major farm animals increased significantly from 2009 to 2013. The increasing trend observed in the table can be attributed to the following activities carried out by the Municipal Directorate of MoFA:
• Education of farmers on good animal husbandry practices
• Training of farmers on construction of pen with local and readily available materials
• Prevention, early detection and control of diseases (regular vaccination against modifiable diseases).
Measures however need to be put in place to sustain and improve upon the production levels that were obtained. Moreover, animal farmers in the municipality are constrained by high cost of feed and inadequate credit facilities. There is the need therefore to introduce animal farmers to alternative feed formulations that reduce their cost of production. Again, banks and micro-finance institutions in the municipality should be encouraged to extend credit facilities and all forms of financial support to these farmers.
Most farmers in the municipality use cutlass and hoe for their farming activities. Labour for agricultural activities is in short supply and thus very expensive. In order to reduce the cost of labour, most farmers have adopted the use of agrochemicals. It is important that the use of agrochemicals is accompanied with intensive education on the correct application and handling of the chemicals so that our water bodies are protected from pollution and consumers from food contamination. With the shortage and high cost of farm labour in the municipality there is also the need to replace the hoe and cutlass with appropriate agricultural machinery so as to reduce production cost and increase efficiency and productivity.
Pest and Diseases
Crop pest which affect crops in the municipality, include mealy bugs, caterpillars, grass hoppers, aphids and mites. Common diseases are crop drop in citrus and black pods on cocoa. Common pest in animals include ticks, worms and lies. There is the need to control disease and pest infestation to improve yield.
The Ministry of Food and Agriculture in collaboration with many agricultural agencies have provided credit facilities to many farmers in the municipality. Farmers have been supplied with credit inputs like seed maize, fertilizers, and herbicides to boost production.
Other credit institutions like the rural banks, micro-finance institutions are available in the municipality.
However, the bureaucratic procedures one has to go through before accessing these credits, the untimely disbursement and unfavourable repayment arrangements are often disincentive to most of the farmers. There is also a general low level of banking culture, poor credit management skills among farmers and a generally low credit repayment rate of 26% in the municipality. All these need to be addressed to enable the farmers obtain and effectively utilize credit to increase production and their income levels.
Much of the food stuffs grown by the farmers go waste as a result of poor harvest management practices notably poor handling, poor storage and inadequate processing facilities. Farmers are compelled to sell their produce at very low prices due to inadequate storage facilities. This is especially so if there is a bumper harvest and also in the case of perishable crops such as tomatoes, cabbage, plantain, etc.
There are 16 functional farmer based organizations (FBOs) in the municipality. The formation of associations among farmers must be further encouraged since they have the potential to strengthen farmers bargaining power when they sell their produce, or buy their inputs, because of the opportunity to present a common position when it comes to pricing of produce, bulk purchase and access to credit. Table 13 shows the distribution of farmer based organizations by Zonal Councils. There is also the need to facilitate the formation of additional farmer groups and build capacity of the various farmer groups to practice good farm management so as to increase production and farm incomes.
There are 17 Agricultural Extension Agents (AEAs) in the municipality as against the 32 required. Table 14 shows how AEAs are distributed within the municipality. The extension agent farmer ratio is 1:1450 as compared to the national ratio of 1:1400. This slows down the dissemination of improved technology and modern methods of farming to farmers.
The extension agent to farmer ratio in the municipality improved from 1:1450 in 2009 to 1:2,060 in 2013. However this is still inadequate compared to the ideal ratio of 1:1,500, and the national ratio of 1:1670. Also the available Extension Officers in the municipality are evenly distributed. The distribution is currently skewed in favour of Offinso and Samproso Zonal Councils.
Measures are required to improve upon the municipality’s ratio and distribution, if farmers are to get and apply the right level of technology at the right time to enable them improve upon their production and income levels. Even more critical, is the need to improve the working conditions of the existing staff especially in terms of the provision of transport, skills training, communication facilities and accommodation within their operational areas to enable them give out their best.
Irrigation farming is limited to a few areas in the municipality. These areas include Kentaa, Saboa, Old Town and Bonsua. Majority of the farmers still depend on rainfall for their farming enterprise. Considering the erratic rainfall pattern in the municipality, irrigation farming provides a better alternative to sustained agricultural production and farm income. There is the need to develop and provide small scale irrigation infrastructure and equipment to promote irrigation farming in areas that are suitable, so as to promote all year round farming, increased production and sustainable employment generation.
Date Created : 4/5/2019 3:48:07 AM