Location and Size

Builsa District is one of the nine districts in the Upper East Region. It is located in the south-western part of the region and lies roughly between latitudes 100 15’N and 100 20’N and between longitudes 10 05’W and 10 35’W.  It is bounded to the North by Kassena Nankana West Distirct, to the East by Kassena Nankana East District, to the West by the Sissala East District and to the South by West Mamprusi District. The District capital is Sandema with major towns being Chuchuliga, Fumbisi, Wiaga, Kanjarga, Gbedema, Wiesi, Gbedembilisi, Siniensi, Kadema, Doninga, Bachonsa and Uwasi,

With a total land area of 2,220 square kilometres, the district accounts for over a quarter of the total land area of the Upper East Region thereby making it the largest district in the Region.

The district capital is Sandema.


The demographic characteristics of Builsa District have some common features with other rural Districts in Ghana.  The major demographic indicators and their implications for development are discussed below:

Size And Density: Builsa District had a population of 66,357 in 1984.  This increased to 75,375 in the year 2000 showing an average annual growth rate of about 0.82% over the 16-year inter censual period.
The total population consists of 51.8% (or 39,996) females and 48.2% (38,379) males. The sex ratio, defined as the ratio of males to females, is 93.2.  The population density based on the land surface is presently about 33.94 or 34 persons per square kilometer as against 30 persons per sq km in 1984.  The population density of the Upper East Region in year 2000 was relatively higher, about 104 persons per sq km.


The Builsa District, which is one of the eight districts of the Upper East Region, has a total land area of 2,220km2 with a current population of 80,035 projected from the 2000 Population and Housing Census figure of 75375. It has a population density of 36 persons per km2.

Total cultivable area is 37,000ha. The people are predominantly small holders growing a range of rain-fed food crops.  The main food crops are cereals (maize, rice, sorghum, millet) and pulses (cowpea and groundnuts). The people are also engaged in livestock and poultry production.

The vegetation is guinea savannah.  The soils are degraded, low in organic matter content and nutrients due to continuous cropping and other land degradation activities such as bush burning. The methods of cultivation are the hand hoe, animal traction and tractor; however the predominant method is the hand hoe. The District has a single maximum rainfall regime expanding over a period of 5 months with annual totals ranging between 700-1,000mm (Uni modal).  The dry period extends for 7 months with a mean temperature of 25-30°C.

There are four main forest reserves and several woodlots in the district. The forest reserves can be found around Kandema, Bachonsa, Wiaga and Kadema. These reserves are rich in flora and fauna. The Bachonsa Forest Reserve is an extension of the Gbelle Game Reserve in Tumu. Several game can be found in this reserve.

Shea nut and dawadawa are the economic trees found in the district as in other parts of the region. These trees grow widely in the bush and those found on farms are protected by the farmers. Shea and dawadawa picking and subsequent processing to shea butter and dawadawa are the main off-season activities of most rural women. Cashew and mango are grown to a limited extent in the district but huge potential exists for promoting and increasing their production.

Major Agricultural Stakeholders

The District Agricultural Development Unit is solely responsible for delivery of extension messages/agricultural technologies and sound innovations to farmers for sustainable agricultural production to ensure food security.  The DADU does this in collaboration with all the relevant stakeholders such as the District Assembly, ACDEP, Presby Agric, CRS, SARI and BUCO Bank.


Land Use Specific to Agriculture

Land Use Ha %
Total Land Area (TLA) 153,400 73.4
Agricultural Land Area (ALA) 104,400 50.0
Area under cultivation (2010) 48,819 46.8
Total area under irrigation (2010) 37,000 17.7
Area under inlands 18,000
Other forest reserves, savannah woodlands, etc.

Agro-Ecological Zones

Lying within the northern savanna zone, the District is characterized by a short rainy season and prolonged dry season. The rainy season lasts from May to October. Rainfall is inadequate and unreliable coupled with periodic dry spells of drought and high temperatures which offset the amount of rainfall. Total rainfall is between 800mm to 1,200mm per annum. The activities of man over the years have affected the original vegetation cover. Exploitation of tree cover for fuel wood, bad conservatory practices as well as drought has promoted environmental degradation.

Soils are generally poor with little organic matter content and poor nutritional status. They are coarse textured with loosely packed stones and concretion. In the dry season, rivers and streams generally dry up. Most of the trees cover being deciduous shed off their leaves in the dry season. The effects of the agro-ecological conditions affect cultivation of crops and rearing of animals.

The major crops grown in the rainy season include rice, sorghum, millet, groundnuts, cowpea, soya beans, maize and okra among others. In the dry season, onions, tomatoes, maize, watermelon, okra, pepper and other vegetables are cultivated along the Tono Dam around Chuchuliga and at other irrigable dam sites in Wiaga and Kunkwah. There are other dam sites which are not utilized due to some challenges such as unfenced irrigable area, broken dam wall, damaged valves etc. It is expected that these challenges would be addressed in the future in order to increase dry season farming and consequently increase food production in the district.

Apart from crop farming, livestock rearing is a major economic activity. Livestock reared in the district include cattle, sheep, goats, guinea fowls and fowls, turkeys, ducks, pigs and donkeys. There are a number of dug-outs in the districts for livestock watering. However these are inadequate and therefore affect livestock rearing in the lean season. As a result, most animals especially cattle stray into the bush in such of water and food, resulting in theft and loss of animals during the dry season. Construction of more dug-outs in the district would be a step in the right direction to boost animal production.

Rainfall Distribution by Agro-Ecological Zone

The District has a single rainy season (unimodal) starting from May to October where the monthly totals increase gradually from April/May until a maximum is reached in July to September. Monthly totals then fall sharply with a prolonged dry season which occurs from November till April. The area experiences a mean annual rainfall varying from 800mm to 1,200mm. A feature of the rainfall pattern is its variation and unreliability.

Agro-Ecological Zone Mean Annual Rainfall (mm) Growing Period (Days)
Major Season Minor Season
Guinea Savanna 800 – 1,200 May – October Nil

Climate (Annual Average Temperature Distribution)

Climatic conditions in the District remain normal over the past years.  Dry and hazy harmattan winds are usually experienced during the first quarter of the year especially in January. The harmattan air is warm, dry and dusty. Dry and sunny weather conditions are also experienced in the district.

Average maximum temperatures are highest in March and April and lowest in December and January. The highest temperature may occur at any time just before the onset of the rains in March, April or May.  Available records indicate that mean monthly temperatures vary from 21.9oC to 34.1oC. The temperature in March can rise up to 450C.


The relief of the District is related to its geology. The topography of the area is undulating and sloppy ranging from 200m to 300m. These are found in the northern part of the district particularly around Bachonsa and Chuchuliga areas. At the southern portion of the district slopes range from 150m to 200m in the valleys.

Sissili, Kulpawn, Besibeli, Tono, Asibelika and the Azimzim are major drainage points in the district. However, there are other dams and dug-outs for drainage. Floods, sheet and gully erosions are widespread in the area especially near the banks of the rivers and in the intensively farmed areas due to the terrain and soft surface soils of the district. This makes most roads inaccessible during the rainy season.

All the small streams dry up in the dry season but as regards the main river (Sissili), there is continuous flow of water.

Soil Types

The soils of the District have less accumulation of organic material in the surface horizons. This feature which is common in the interior savanna zone of Ghana is mainly due to high temperatures and the rapid rate of decomposition. Annual burning of the vegetation cover at the onset of the farming season and after harvesting reduces the amount of the soil organic content.

The predominant soil types of the Builsa District are those associated with ground water laterite developed over granite formation. Generally, soils developed over granites and sandstones have in the main light top soil varying in texture from coarse sandy, clay, and loam to silty clay in the valley bottoms with variable amounts of gravel.

The soils are loose, porous coarse textured and easy to cultivate. They are however easily eroded and poorly supplied with nutrients. The soil has a low moisture retention capacity due to its sandy nature. Internal drainage is relatively excessive but dies out rapidly during drought periods with adverse effects on crop growth.

Farming System

The main farming systems are mixed farming and mixed cropping. Farming households have an average of 1ha around the dwelling places and with 2ha of bush farms which can be up to 6km from dwelling house. Though there is only one rainy season in a year, most of the farmers also engage in dry season farming. Crops mostly grown in the main season are millet, sorghum, groundnuts, rice, maize, soya beans and cowpea. Those cultivated in the dry season include onions, watermelon, tomatoes, pepper, okra, and other vegetables. These crops form major cash crops for these farmers.

The methods of cultivation are the hand hoe, animal traction and tractor tillage. The most predominant is the hand hoe.

Livestock reared in the district include cattle, sheep, goats, guinea fowls and fowls, turkeys, ducks, pigs and donkeys.

Most rural dwellers depend mainly on agriculture and agriculture related activities for their livelihood. Incomes from these crops are spent on school fees, hospital bills and family upkeep, funerals and other festivities.

Land Tenure Systems

Land owners title arrangement amongst the people is in the form of family ownership or clan ownership. This means that land is either owned by families or by clans. No individual per se has complete right to ownership of land. On the other hand, it is the use of the land that an individual can claim ownership of. This means that an individual from his/her family or from elsewhere can be given right to the temporary use of a particular piece of land. Whiles legal control of land in the district is vested in Chiefs ritual control is in the hand of Tindanas (priests) who perform rituals and sacrifices as and when necessary for the prosperity of the land.

Women do not own land but can have access, negotiating through a man to cultivate what is often referred to as women crops (groundnuts, vegetables).

Farm Population

The District had a farming population of 31, 562 farmers made up of 15,761 males and 15,801 females in 2010 who engaged in agricultural production based on Multi-Round Agricultural and Livestock Survey conducted in 2010.

Labour Force

The Builsa District has a total labour force of 81,785 based on a projection of 0.82% growth rate of the figure obtained in the Population and Housing Census conducted in 2000. The labour force is engaged in both agricultural and non-agricultural activities. Of this population 38.59% were actively involved in agricultural production in 2010 with the remaining engaged in other activities.

Labour Distribution

Labour distribution in the district is summarized in the table below.

Economically Active Population

District Total Labour Force Agricultural (farming, forestry, fishing & Hunting) Non-agriculture (mining, manufacturing, services, etc.)
Count Share of Labour Force % M % F
Builsa 81,785 31, 562 15,761 males

15,801 females

19.27 19.32


Crop Sub-Sector

  • Principal Agricultural Produce

Tree Crops

–          Mangoes

–          Cashew

–          Teak

Roots & Tubers

–          Frafra potatoes

–          Sweet potatoes

–          Yam


–          Millet

–          Sorghum

–          Maize

–          Rice

Fruits & Vegetables

–          Onions

–          Tomatoes

–          Pepper

–          Okra

–          Leafy vegetables


–          Cowpea

–          Soya beans

–          Bambara nuts

Area Planted to Selected Food Crops (Ha)

Year Crops
Millet Sorghum Rice Groundnuts Maize Sweet potato
2001 8,587 20,843 11,313 18,269 1,046 102
2002 15,530 36,150 3,200 40,950 4,575
2003 15,940 34,804 3,136 37,471 3,750 182
2004 15,300 35,400 9,500 38,000 3,750 2,450
2005 18,735 34,800 21,772 42,676 2,205 1,090
2006 14,237 33,198 9,829 34,415 3,285 2,555
2007 11,893 13,153 4,345 13,366 1,253 172
2008 3,511 19,232 3,072 24,088 1,438
2009 8,349 10,213 8,975 9,027 3,068
2010 9,250 11,720 9,190 9,910 3,171 1,200

Frequency of Cropping for Annual Crops

Crops such as millet, sorghum, rice, maize, soya beans, groundnuts are cultivated once in the district since the district has a unimodal rainfall regime.

Production of Selected Food Crops (MT)

Year Crops
Millet Sorghum Rice Groundnuts Maize Sweet potato
2001 7,429 23,969 22,625 23,969 1,569 715
2002 6,540 25,720 9,600 19,700 1,730
2003 9,564 27,843 13,171 30,726 1,688 1,680
2004 14,229 53,100 16,625 31,160 1,688 25,823
2005 15,737 44,685 31,569 33,287 1,411 11,270
2006 7,119 16,599 11,795 20,649 1,643 27,594
2007 2,973 6,971 3,085 7,752 414 1,849
2008 5,837 42,310 5,837 45,767 3,307
2009 12,024 18,385 21,536 11,735 4,909
2010 12,025 16,408 22,975 11,694 4,439 12,000

Average Yield (Ha) of Selected Food Crop Rainfed (2010)

Millet Sorghum Rice Groundnuts Maize Sweet potato Soya bean Cowpea
1.3 1.4 2.5 1.18 1.4 10.0 1.0 1.14

Livestock Sub-Sector

Apart from crop farming, livestock rearing is a major economic activity in the Builsa district. Below is a table indicating livestock numbers from 2004-2010.

Livestock Population

Year Cattle Sheep Goats Pigs Poultry Donkeys
2004 26,502 20,575 22,076 1,576 72307
2005 27,709 24,346 24,034 1,884 72505
2006 28,154 24,966 25,687 1,946 75898
2007 29,947 22,221 23,974 1,310 79364
2008 30,845 22,887 24,693 1,349 81743
2009 31,770 23,573 25,433 1,389 84,195
2010 41,180 33,335 35,373 2,601 171,899 2,185

The livestock and poultry figures were estimated from an annual population growth rate of 3%. However, 2010 figures were obtained from a livestock census carried out in the district.

The population figures of poultry include local fowls, guinea fowls, turkeys, ducks, pigeons and ostriches.

Many farmers are now taking animal rearing as a business and therefore are now practicing good animal husbandry practices and seeking veterinary services to improve their production.  Most farmers have also increased the number of animals they are rearing.

Number of Agro-Processing facilities

Type of Agro-Processing Facility Number
Corn/rice mills 37

Tractor service providers

There are about 30 tractors in the district, out of which 25 are serviceable. These provide services to farmers during the major season. However, only a few of the farmers are able to access the service due to high service cost among others.

Most of the tractors are owned privately by individuals and groups in the district. Two of the tractors are owned by the Builsa District Assembly and another two by PAS. The rest of the tractors are owned by private individuals and groups.


Name of NGO Location Area of Intervention
PAS Sandema Food security, Capacity building
ACDEP Bolga Capacity building
CRS Bolga Food security

Support from DA, NGOs, Projects and   Other Service Providers.

Organizations/ Agency Support/ Service Provided
Builsa District Assembly Co-ordination of departmental activities and provision of social amenities
PAS Provide  agricultural inputs support and small ruminants to farmers/ farmer groups and technology delivery
BUCO Bank Micro-financing to farmer groups
CRS Agricultural inputs support to farmer groups
ACDEP Provide capacity building trainings to farmers, linking of farmers to markets and banks.
DOC Group formation and development
NADMO Disaster and relief management



The Livestock Development Project started in 2004 with the objectives to increasing food security, creating employment and increasing income levels of farmers in the northern part of the country. It was co-funded by Government of Ghana and AfDB. The project had five major components including:

  • Development of Animal Production
  • Development of Animal Health
  • Credit Provision
  • Capacity Building
  • Project Management

Under the project, farmers were given credit both in cash and kind to enhance livestock production as well as increase livestock related activities in the district. 16 farmer groups comprising 62males and 70 females were given cash credit. For the credit in kind, 120 farmers () were given small ruminants with each farmer receiving either 10 sheep or goats. Farmers are to pass down the same number of animals received to other farmers after two years of receipt.

Two dug-outs and a borehole have been constructed in the district specifically at Dulogsa, Nyansa and Sanwansa respectively under the project. Farmers and staff have also undergone several trainings to build their capacity.


This project seeks to increase food security in the area of rice, maize, sorghum and soya bean production in the country.  It also has the objectives of creating employment especially the youth and increasing income levels of farmers. It was initiated in 2008 by the Government of Ghana. The project provides farmers/farmer groups with inputs in the form of seeds, fertilizer, tractor and combines harvester services and weedicides. Farmers are expected at the end of every major season to repay an equivalent of the cost of inputs received either in cash or kind (produce).

Under the programme, districts are allowed to grow crops wi