LOCATION AND SIZE
The District lies between latitude 7º 19´N and 7º 35´N and longitudes 2º 08´ W and 2º 31´ W. It shares boundaries with Wenchi Municipality to the north-east, Tain District to the north, Berekum and Dormaa East to the west, Sunyani Municipality to the south-east and to the eastern boundaries of the District are Tano North and Ofinso North districts.
Sunyani West District has a total land area of 1,658.7 square kilometers. Below is a map showing the Sunyani West in the District context.
The climatic zone of Sunyani West District falls within the Wet Semi-Equatorial region and therefore has two rainy seasons in a year. The major rains begin in April and end in July and the minor rainy season is from September to October. Average annual rainfall is 170cm. The dry season often lasts for five months (between November and mid-March) each year. The abundance of rainfall offers the District a comparative advantage in agricultural production and forestry.
Sunyani West falls within the moist-semi deciduous forest vegetation zones of Ghana. The District is blessed with forest reserves including the Tain I and II Forest Reserves, and the Yaya Forest Reserve which contain most of the country’s valuable timber resources. About 32% of the total land area of the District is made up of these forest reserves.
Timber can be found throughout the district especially around Chiraa, Odomase, and Boffourkrom. Some popular timber species in the district are Odum, Mahogany, Wawa, Oframo, Teak, Kyenkyen, Sapele, Emire, Asanfina and Onyina among others. Crops that are cultivated in the District include cassava, plantain, cashew nut, oil palm, cocoyam, maize, etc.
However, the forest is being depleted through human activities such as agricultural activities, bush fires, indiscriminate felling of trees, settlement expansion and the approaching Sahara Desert. Figure 1.2 below depicts the vegetation and crop cover of the District.
Geology and Soil Type
The Sunyani West District is underlined by the Precambrian formation of rock believed to be rich in mineral deposits. Soils in the district fall into the Ochrosols group which is generally fertile and therefore supports the cultivation of cocoyam, maize, cassava, cocoa, plantain and yam. Indeed the District is one of the major maize producing districts in the region.
Relief and Drainage
The topography of the District is generally undulating and has heights ranging from 700 feet (213.36 meters) along River Bisi basin to 1100 feet (335.28 meters) above sea level.
The drainage is dendritic with several streams and rivers being seasonal. The River Tano is the most reliable source of water for both domestic and agricultural purposes. Other rivers in the District include River Abisu, River Sise, River Nyinahini, River Ahunyan, River Bisi and River Bore.
Population Size and Growth Rate
The population of the District has been growing steadily since 1970 with the population of the District as a percentage of the regional population also increasing from 3.8% in 1970 to 4.9% in 2010. The 2000 Population and Housing Census put the population of the District at 78,020 with a growth rate of 3.5%. Currently, the population is estimated to be 114,081 with a growth rate of 3.8%. In comparing the current growth rate of 3.8% with the national and regional growth rate of 2.7% and 2.5% respectively, it can be implied that the population of the District is increasing steadily. Table 1.1 below shows the population size and growth rate from 1970-2010. Apart from the natural growth rate we can also attribute the migration of settler farmers into the District as a contributing factor to the current population of the District.
Spatial Distribution of Population/ Rural-Urban Split
Nsoatre, Chiraa, Odumase and Fiapre which are the urban settlements in the district, have 40.76% of the population with 59.24% distributed among the other settlements. The concentration of population in the four major settlements has increased demand for utility services such as water and electricity, with social services such as education and health facilities also in high demand. Equally, there is pressure on accommodation and waste generation has also increased.
However, the first four settlements are found at the southern part of the district with majority of the rural settlements scattered around the northern part. Comparing the percentage of people in urban to that of the nation of 43.8%, it can be concluded the district is rural in nature.
The population density of the district is 68.8 persons per square kilometers. In comparing this to the national population density of 79.3/sq.km, the district is sparsely populated. This can be attributed to the fact that the district has much arable land with about 32% of the total land area made up of forest reserves hence uninhabited.
The District has been technically and agriculturally divided into three zones, namely
Chiraa, Nsoatre and Odumase. The zones have an average of about 350-400 communities, with many rural dispersed settlements. 95% of the communities are in farming. Food crop production breakdown is maize 70%; cocoyam 17%; cassava 50%; plantain 3%; yam 2%. Cash crops grown include cocoa, oil palm, citrus and lately mango. Maize production has given rise to maize markets in all the zones in the District with the main markets at Odumase and Chiraa. Sunyani West district is one of the bread baskets of Ghana as it produces all farm commodities. Some commodities are market specific as indicated below:
a. Chiraa: – maize, cocoyam, cassava, plantain, pineapple, rice, mango, tiger-nuts, grasscutter, poultry and livestock
b. Odumase – Maize, cocoyam, cassava, plantain, yam, poultry and livestock products, and
c. Nsoatre – Maize, cocoyam, cassava, plantain, poultry and livestock
Poultry and livestock sector is also very prominent in the District especially the poultry industry. The poultry industry in particular provides a large and reliable market for the large quantities of maize produced in the District. There are processing plants set up to process cassava into various products. The district produces fish for the general market through aquaculture which has contributed to improve the nutritional needs of the communities.
MAJOR CROP PERFORMANCE
There are three projects in the District that are promoting the production of cassava. These are Cassava Adding Value for Africa (C:AVA), Root and Tubers Improvement and Marketing Programme (RTIMP) and West African Agricultural Productivity Programme (WAAPP).
Cassava Value Adding for Africa (CAVA) Project
With the main objective to add value to cassava through processing C:AVA Project encourages farmers to produce cassava in large quantities to feed the processing plants on continuous basis. This provides employment and a regular source of income to farmers thereby reducing poverty.
The project started in 2009 and a series of trainings has been done for farmers. These include, among others,
• Good agronomic practices (GAPs) to increase production and
• Group Dynamics.
Root and Tuber Improvement and Marketing Project (RTIMP)
The project is designed to add value to roots and tubers. This will provide ready market for producers thereby improving the purchasing power of the farmers and ultimately reducing poverty. Various varieties of cassava have been introduced to farmers for production.
As a result of the high level of cassava production in the District, there is the need to process the cassava into various products such as starch, cassava flour, gari and a host of others. There are two main agro processing companies working in this regard. These are:
Cassacoxa: They process cassava into starch, cassava flour which can be used in various ways like baking and preparing kokontey.
St Baasa Company: This Company, in addition to process cassava products, is also into the processing various products such as palm oil.
Village Mango Project:
This project is meant to improve environmental conditions – to green the environment and also serve as alternate livelihood for farmers to increase income. It started in 2010 where seedlings were supplied to farmers to grow both around their households and also in their farms. This will provide income for farmers as well as improving upon the environment
In order to sustain the programme and to see to the up keep of the mango seedlings, farmers were trained on how to care for the seedling through.
• Protecting the seedling by the use of wire mesh, blocks among others.
• Regular watering.
Block Farm Programme
This programme seeks to cultivate maize and other cereals on large tracks of land belonging to a group of farmers. These farmers are given inputs such as fertilizers, agro chemicals, and seed. They are also provided with services like tractor services. All these inputs and services given are cost against the farmer. At harvest, the farmer is expected to pay back in kind at the prevailing market price.
1. Large tracts of land for agriculture,
2. Good soils that support agriculture, and
3. Farmers ready to adopt new technologies