LOCATION AND SIZE
Offinso North District is one of the 27 Administrative Districts of Ashanti Region Created in the later part of 2007; it is located in the extreme North-Western part of the Region. The District lies within longitude 1˚45w and 1˚65w.
Share common boundary in the North and West with Techiman, Sunyani Tano and Nkroanza District in the Brong Ahafo Region. The District also boarded on the East by Sekyedumase District, and the South by Offinso Staff Municipality.
It covers an area of about 6300 square kilometers which is about 2.6% of Ashanti Regions total surface area. The District is dissected by the main trunk road from Accra-Kumasi to the North the trans-Africa Highway). Which serve as the main gate way to Ashanti Region from the Northern and Brong Ahafo Regions.
The District capital is Akomadan. Other major settlements are Nkwakwaa, Asempanaye, Asuosuo Nkenkaasu and Afrancho, all lying along the Kumasi-Techiman Road. The district is also divided into 5 area and town councils. These are Akomadan, Afrancho, Nkenkaasu, Asuoso and Nsenua area council.
Offinso North district is made up of over 100 settlements. Almost all the major sized settlements are located along the Kumasi-Techiman road. The estimated current population about 55,000with a growth rate of o3.1%. Natural increase and migration are the main cause of the high population growth rate. The average household size is 6.
The district is a typical rural district with about 78% of the total population living in the rural area. The male-female ratio of the district stand at 1.004). This ratio is indicative of the migrant farming population which is predominant in the district. The migrant male are found of moving initially to their new settlement without their female counter parts. It is when economic condition of their new settlement proved sustainable that their female partners joined their and Nkwakwa.
The District lies within the semi-equatorial region with a bi-modal rainfall regime. Ti has a mean annual rainfall level ranging between 700mm and 1200mm. the major season s are March-Mid July whilst the minor rains are in September to mid-November. Humidity is very high during the raining season, reaching the peak of 90% between late May and early June, and time early July.
The District experiences a minimum temperature of 30˚C around March/April whilst the mean monthly temperature is 27˚C.
The natural vegetation of most part of the district is moist semi-deciduous forest with thick vegetation cover and under growth. However with the spate and trail of the 1983 bushfires coupled with poor farming practices an indiscriminate felling of trees, the original vegetation has degenerated into a transitional and secondary forest.
Part of the forest cover have however been reserved. The district has four forest reserves which are;
(1) Afransu-Brohoma Forest Reserve
(2) Asuofu East Forest Reserve
(3) Asuofu West Forest Reserve
(4) Mankrang Forest Reserve
RELIEF AND DRAINAGE
The topography is generally undulating with the highest elevation of about 585 meters (1950) above sea level. Conspicuously seen are the Koforidua-Kintampo hills. The Mantukwa and Papase area constitute the highest part of the district.
Low lying area or plains exist in the Nkenkaasu-Afrancho of elevation of between 180cm-300cm [600ft-100ft] above sea level.
The district is drained by numerous rivers and streams. The significant ones been the Pro and Mankrang river and their tributaries. Infact persistent clearing of the catchment areas of the rivers in the district is seriously affecting their levels of flow. Some of the perennial rivers have become more seasonal rivers and streams, making the future of this natural resources non-sustainable.
The Agriculture sector is the livewire of the district, economy in terms of employment, income and production.
Farming is the predominant Occupation of the people in the district. The sector engages over 70% of the economically active labour force. However about 60% of all engage outside the Agricultural sector still practice Agriculture as a subsidiary activity.
The current total farming population is around 30,000 comprising 15,030 male and 14,970 females. The Youth in agriculture (people between the ages of 15-34 years) constitute 30% of the farming population is a great potential for sustainable Agricultural production.
Notwithstanding the percentage in the youth engaged in the sector the district‘s agricultural labour force is characterized by a gradual ageing farming population. The current average age of 45 years is not good enough for the sustainable agriculture and calls for concrete measures to tackle the demographer in balance in the agricultural labour force by making sector more attractive to the youth. There are about 7,000 farm holders with holdings ranging below a hectare to 30 hectares. Average from the size is 1.5 hectares. The Agricultural Agent farmer ration stand at 1:1500.
REVENUE FROM AGRICULTURE SECTOR
The contribution of Agriculture to the revenue of the District is very significant. Revenue from market tolls, taxes imposed on food items exported from the District and levy on livestock rearing remain one of the District assembly’s main source of internally generates income before the creation of the District agriculture’s contributed to the economy of the district constituted 40.94% of the total revenue.
LAND AVAILABLITY AND UTILIZATION
The District is endowed with rich and tremendous arable land that could support a wide range of crop and animals. Because of the district‘s transitional and forest status, both tree and food crops perform very well. Among them include cocoa, oil palm, citrus and cashew for tree crops. For food crops the district produces maize, plantain /cocoyam, cassava and, groundnut/cowpeas and rice in a large quantity.
Infact the Offinso North District is also outstanding in vegetable production especially tomato and okro.
As earlier on stated, the district covers an area of 63000sq km out of which about 2,625sqkm estimated that about 10,000 hectares of the agricultural or farm land lie follow each year large tracts of fertile land thus remain uncultivated annually.
SOIL TYPES AND THEIR SUITABILITY FOR CROP PRODUCTION
The soils of the Offinso North Municipality are developed from parent materials of varied rock type of different geological origin. The soils developing over each group of rock of one origin are grouped and mapped on soil association bases. A soil association is a group of related soils occurring together in a catena or topographical sequence where each soil in the association is known as soil series.
Soil series is defined as soil with similar profile morphology derived from similar conditions of climate vegetation relief and drainage. A soil series may be named after a town river or other geographical entity. For example, Bekwai series is a soil type named after the town Bekwai. Naming of the soil type after Bekwai simply means, it was near this town that the soil type was first identified or where it exists in extensive areas. For surveys of large areas, Soil series combined into large group called soil Association. A soil association is therefore defined as a group soil series formed from related parent materials and possessing similar profile morphology but differentiated by relief and drainage
ACCESS TO CREDIT AND SUPPORT SERVICE
Modern agriculture is a business and should be looked as such for sustainable production. With the continuous increase in production inputs and services, our farmers need to be assisted financially to production in order to meet the national food security needs.
Credit to farmers should be timely and adequate for production. Repayment time should also be scheduled for the farmers to benefit from the credit and support services.
Farmers access to credits from financial institutions, the District Assembly, NGOs, investors and projects will be facilitated. NGOs will be encouraged to operate in the district to offer support service to farmers to help agricultural development in the district.
SPECIAL ATTENTION TO RICE PRODUCTION
Offinso North district has the potential of becoming a rice production destination for region. Among the numerous river valleys in the district, the pro river valley at Proso has the greatest potential of producing rice in large quantities.
The valley covers over 1000 hectares but only about 100 hectares are under cultivation. Already the farmers along the valley have been put into group for easy extension of services.
In line with government’s policy on domestic rice production, the district Ministry of Food an agriculture would pay a special attention to the production of the crop. The Ministry would laise with the District Assembly to promote and increase the production of rice in the district.
Currently because of the lack of production logistic and machinery paddy produced has to be transported to Kumasi for milling, Over 330 tons of paddy is produced yearly from the valley.
The farmers therefore needed to be encouraged by the provision of farm machinery (Tractors, milling machine etc.) and other farming inputs for increased and sustainably production.
EFFECTIVE EXTENSION SERVICES
The wide Extension Agent-Farmer ratio of 3:150 is a deficiency to our farmer contacts. The current Extension coverage of the district is only 42%. Many farmers therefore lack Extension services, which is not good for improve farming method and increased productivity of farmers.
The number of agriculture agents would therefore be increase to meet the needs of farmers.
Agriculture is predominantly on a small-medium holder basis in the district, although there are some relatively large farms for particularly maize, yam, tomatoes and tree crops. The main system of farming is the traditional system where hoes and cutlasses are the main tools. Mechanized agriculture has also featured prominently in the district.
Bush fallowing and slash&burn are the main agriculture practices. Farmers develop new farms every farming season. This practice is adversely affecting forest resources, soil fertility and the general ecology.
Crop production is basically rainfed, irrigation is limited to tomato production especially in the minor cropping season. The heavy reliance on the erratic rainfall regime has been identified as one of the main constraints affecting agricultural performance in the district.
Other constraints facing agricultural development include the following:
a) Difficulty in gaining access to land and insecurity for commercial farming.
b) Finance: difficulty to get access to credit and the short repayment term of credit facilities.
c) Inadequate extension services due to wide farmer-extension agent ratio.
d) Limited and inaccessible roads in most farming communities especially during the rainy season.
e) Increasing cost of farm inputs.
f) High post-harvest losses especially in maize and tomatoes which is mainly due to lack of storage and processing facilities. The postharvest losses in maize and tomatoes are estimated at 25%-30%.
g) Marketing problems.
h) Pests and diseases on both crops and animals.
i) Misuse of agro-chemicals particularly herbicides and pesticides on vegetables.
j) The drudgery associated with the use of cutlasses and hoes in farming.
Agriculture productivity in the district is however relatively good. The table below shows the performance of major crops in 2010.
Table: MAJOR CROPS GROWN AND OUTPUT LEVELS, 2010.
|CROP||AREA CROPPED(HA)||PRODUCTION(MT)||YIELD RATE.MT/HA
OFFINSO NORTH DISTRICT
SOURCE: MOFA Offinso-North MIS Office
Tabl: TREE CROPS GROWN.
|CROP||AREA CROPPED(HA)||YIELD RATE.MT/HA||PRODUCTION(MT)|
SOURCE: MOFA Offinso-North MIS Office.
CROPS OF COMPARATIVE ADVANTAGE.
Crops of comparative advantage in the district include tomato, maize, cassava, rice, yam, cashew and groundnut.
Offinso North District is one of the leading tomato producing districts in the Ashanti Region. It is grown all over the district with heavy concentration at Akomadan, Afrancho, Nkenkaasu, Asuoso, and lately Nsenua and Mantukwa areas.
The average annual production is over 18,000 metric tons. Each year over 30% of tomato go waste with some farmers refusing to harvest due to very low prices of the commodity. During the main harvest season for 2009 for instance, a create of 52kg weight of the commodity was sold for between GH¢ 4.00- 5.00,a price far below the production cost. This situation is of course a great disincentive to sustainable production.
Tomato is grown throughout the year with local irrigation and in valley bottoms.
Okro is also another crop that is cultivated highly in the district. The low lying areas of Asempanaye, Nkwaakwa, Asuoso, and Mframafawo covering a total area of 112 hectares are planted to okro each year.
Land preparations in these low lying areas begin in November and harvested in February through to June when the areas become flooded.
One major constraint facing the farmers has been that of water for dry season production. The development of irrigation wells fitted with pumps would go a long way to increase yields and make production sustainable.
Offinso North District is also noted for its cashew production. The Nsenua area which is within the transition zone is suited for cashew cultivation. The area covers 16km² and stretches to Ejura-Sekyedumase district.
Techno-serve, an NGO, in the early 90s assisted 114 farmers to cultivate the crop. Members were brought together into a cooperative, Nsenoaman cooperative cashew nut society.
ADRA Ghana, another NGO entered the area in the early 2000 and assisted more farmers in the cultivation of the crop. Before ADRA withdrew from the area in 2005, over 400 hectares of cashew had been cultivated in the area.
The main means of transport in the district is by road. Roads are mostly feeder except for some in the district capital. The main Kumasi –Techiman-Northern trunk road passes through the district.
The feeder roads are linked to the farming communities most of which are difficult to access during the rainy season. The main feeder roads include:
b) Asempaneye – Konkon
c) Asempaneye – Amponsakrom-Papase
d) Nkenkaasu- Seseko
e) Asuoso- Derma
f) Akomadan – Sraneso
g) Afrancho- Mankranso
The poor road networks to the producing villages within the district are a major constraint to the development of Agriculture in the area.
The district has three main markets. These markets are mainly for farm produce from the surrounding villages.
|Nkenkaasu||Wednesday||Plantain, maize, yams, cocoyam, tomatoes, cassava, etc.|
|Darso||Sunday||Plantain, yam, cassava, etc.|
|Akomadan||Tuesday||Tomatoes, cocoyam, plantain, cassava.|
These markets are patronized by food crop sellers from Techiman, Kumasi and the surrounding towns and villages. Despite the importance of these markets to the economic life of the district, the infrastructure is not developed.
The development problems described in the previous sections are elaborated in this section to give a better perspective on them.
The proposed programmes are enshrined in the overall mission of the Ministry of Food And Agriculture which is to promote and sustain agricultural development. The main agricultural developments initiatives to be pursued include the following.
a) The facilitation of farmers to access credit and other support services.
b) To give special attention to the production of rice so as to meet governments’ vision for self-sufficiency in rice production.
c) To maintain an efficient extension service to farmers.
d) Effective management of crop and animal pests/diseases.
e) Assisting farmers to increase food production through the provision of proper production techniques.
f) Reduce post-harvest losses.
g) Empowering the youth to go into Agriculture.
h) Promoting the use of local foods and fruits in the diet of farer families.
PEST AND DISEASE MANAGEMENT PROGRAMME.
Crop and livestock pest and diseases are a major constraint to agricultural production in the district. An approximate value of 25% of crops is lost on the field to pests and diseases each year in the district. On animals, Diarrhoea and skin diseases are prominent and constitute a major loss to livestock population in the district.
As part of programmes aimed at managing pests and diseases, a series of farmer training workshops on proper handling of agrochemicals have been ongoing. There have also been routine treatments of pests and diseases throughout the district.
PROGRAMMES TO ASSIST FARMERS INCREASE PRODUCTON
In order to enhance the productivity of farmers, there would be regular monthly trainings to upgrade the knowledge and skills of our agricultural extension agents in technology transfer to our farmers. There would also be regular farm and supervisory visits to our farmers to ensure that appropriate technology is transferred.
The district has significant water r bodies that can be harnessed for irrigation purposes to reduce the heavy dependence on the erratic rainfall pattern of the district. The Akomadan irrigation project has a land area of about 1000ha, however, only a small percentage of this land is being put to use.
Currently the project has acquired new machines (electricity generators and pumping machines), sprinklers and pipelines. The dam has also been dredged, it is therefore expected that, the facility shall be used to bring about a sustainable tomato production in the area.
With the acquisition of new facilities for the project, the production acreage is also expected to increase and there for e draw more farmers into the project.
The MOFA irrigation facility is also another potential irrigation project. The facility has a well-developed dam, a 25 acre land, and pipelines. This is one facility that can be developed to bring about real changes in the life of farmers in the area.
Ironically, the land has been encroached upon, leaving the dam to go waste. Other potential areas include Nsenoa, Asuoso, Asempaneye and Nkenkaasu which has water bodies like Bobra,Pro,Kobre and Amoadan.
MOFA would explore all possible avenues including the involvement of the District Assembly to help develop these areas for small irrigation schemes.
BLOCK FARM PROGRAMME
The block farm concept was developed under the Youth in Agriculture Programme. The concept started as a pilot programme at Ejura farms in 2008 and 2009. The Programme was expanded to all the operational areas in the district. It covered maize (180 acres), rice(24 acres) and tomato(300 acres).
The contribution of the programme to food security has been very tremendous and therefore improved the living conditions of the people in the district.
Major challenges facing the programme:
- Erratic rainfall pattern
- Unavailability of large stretch of land to undertake the programme.
- Inadequate machinery for pre and post planting operations.
- Unwillingness to repay loans by farmers.