The Nadowli District Agricultural Development Unit as part of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture formerly Ministry of Agriculture has the Mandate of promoting food security to reduce poverty through the use of improved technologies in agriculture.

1.1 Location and Size

The Nadowli District Agricultural Development Unit is located in the Upper West Region of Ghana. The district is bounded to the north by the Jirapa District, to the south by the Wa Municipal, to the west by Burkina Faso and the East by the Sisala East District. The Nadowli District Capital is 41.0 km from Wa, the Regional capital. It lies between latitude 10.8’ 28’ and 9.8’ 18’ north and longitude 2.7’ 10’ and 1.9’10’ west. The location of the District promotes international trade between the district and neighboring Burkina Faso. Below is the map of the Upper West Region showing Nadowli District.

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1.2 Topography and Drainage

The topography of the district is low lying and undulating at altitudes ranging between 150m-300m above sea level though some parts average 600m. There are few rivers and streams with seasonal droughts which prevent dry season farming resulting in low crop output levels and food insecurity.

1.3 Geology and Soils

There are three main types of rocks in the district. These are Birimian and granite to the west and some parts of the east and basement complex to the east. These rocks hold a considerable quantity of water, which is a good potential for the drilling of boreholes and the sinking of wells. Current studies have revealed large mineral deposits, which is a potential for mining activities.

The soil types that dominate in the district are laterite, sandy and sandy loam (savanna ochrosols). They are generally poor in organic matter and nutrients as a result of the absence of serious vegetative cover due to bush burning, overgrazing, over cultivation and protracted erosion and are heavily leached. Relatively fertile soils, sandy loams, occur to the east of the district around Kojokpere, Issa and Tabiesi. They support the growth of crops such as yams, cereals, legumes and rice. Soils in the west are generally poor and support limited agricultural activity.

1.4 Vegetation and Climate

The district lies within the tropical continental or guinea savannah woodland characterized by shrubs and grassland with scattered medium sized trees. Some economic trees found in the district are kapok, shear, baobab, mango and dawadawa, which are tolerant to both fire and drought. These trees are a major source of income to households particularly women who play important roles in the provision of household needs and these economic trees provide a potential for the establishment of processing industries to increase employment opportunities for the people.

The district has a mean annual temperature of 32C and a mean monthly temperature ranging from 36C in March to 27C in August.

The district lies within the tropical continental zone and annual rainfall is confined to 6 months starting from May to September and unevenly distributed. Mean annual rainfall is about 110mm with its peak around August. From October to March there is little or no rain and this long dry season is made harsh by the dry northeastern Harmattan winds. This unfavourable climatic condition promotes only rain fed agriculture and has been the major reason for the prevailing food insecurity which is a major problem facing farmers. This climatic condition calls for the construction of dams and dug outs to support irrigation agriculture to reduce migration of the youth to the southern parts of the country in search of employment.

1.5 Environmental Situation

Traditional belief systems and human activities in the District tend to regard the land as a reservoir of unlimited resources. Human activities particularly annual routine bush burning, indiscriminate tree felling for fuel wood, charcoal and other purposes and poor animal husbandry practices have led to decreasing vegetation cover and increasing soil erosion and depletion of soil fertility.

Road construction, sand and gravel winning as well as inappropriate farming practices such as slash and burn increases land degradation. Farming along, and in watercourses has also resulted in the silting of water bodies like dams and ponds and destruction of vegetation protecting the water bodies.

The existence of farmer groups in agro-forestry in the District is an effort to maintain a sustainable environment. Individuals have also adopted the habit of planting tress around their buildings. Developing economic trees plantations e.g. Cashew, Mangoes has also gained popularity over the years.

There is gradual improvement in the housing sector in the district. Most of the traditional house types with earth roofs and thatch are giving way to land crate and blockhouses with zinc and aluminium roofing sheets, the provision of wide windows has also improved ventilation in the houses. This has positive implications on the health of the people since it will minimize the spread of air borne diseases.

1.6 Land Tenure

Land tenure has been identified as one of the major constraints to agricultural production in Ghana. This is because of its implications for farming on a large scale. The main methods of land acquisition identified in the district are freehold and lease hold. The proportion of farmers farming under this ownership system has been shown the table below:

Average farm size is as low as 2-3 acres per farmer compared to the national average of 10-15acres per farmer. The small farm sizes have negatively affected production, food security and consequently income that characterise the district’s economy.

1.7 Seasons

The district lies in the guinea savanna zone and has one main rainy season for agricultural production from May to September. The rest of the year is dry and can only be used for dry season gardening. However the low development of the irrigable agriculture has limited agricultural productivity to the wet season hence during the dry season farmers are dormant and have no major farming activities to undertake.

1.8 Irrigation

There are a number of dams and dugouts in the district but only two in Sankana and Goli have been developed for irrigation purposes. These two irrigation facilities are however grossly under utilized. The Daffiama Dam irrigation scheme is currently been considered for development. These water bodies if properly utilized will go a long way to improve the food security situation in the district particularly in the dry season when most farmers are idle.

2.0 Demographics

2.1 Population Size and Growth

According to the 2000 population census, the district had a total population of 82,716. This population compared with the 1984 census figure of 65529 indicates a growth rate of 1.5% per annum as depicted in the table 3 below.

* District Assembly Projections, 2009.

Using the 2000 population as the base year and an annual growth rate of 1.5% the population in the district was estimated at 94,672 in 2009. The district share of the region’s population was 14.3%.

2.2 Age-sex Distribution

While about 45% of the population is aged between 0-14 years, the economically active population also constitutes 49% with the remaining 6% being the aged. This gives an age dependency ratio of about 1:1 indicating less pressure on the working population and the high propensity or ability to save.

* District Assembly Projections, 2009

Out of the 2009 estimated total population of 94671, males make up 45066 and females 49605 thus giving male/female ratio is 48:52. The situation amplifies the need to mainstream gender in the pursuance of development in the district, as they constitute majority of the population.

2.3 Population Density.

The population density is about 38.53persons per square kilometre as compared to 31.0 persons per square kilometre in 2000. The distribution is however uneven through out the district. Population density around Nadowli and Kaleo areas is about 52.3 persons /Km2 but as low as about 15 persons per square kilometre in the eastern portions.

The generally low population density in the district implies less pressure on the land for human activities that could compound the problem of environmental degradation in the district. The district has therefore a great potential of minimizing poor environmental hygiene and sanitation through public sensitization.

2.4 Migration

There are no enough statistical data on migration trends in the district, however the situation does exist. There is seasonal out-migration by the youth especially males to the southern part of the country to work, thereby reducing the potential labour force needed for agricultural development. There is also intra-district migration from the west to the fertile east for farming purposes. This partly explains the low agricultural output levels and food insecurity experienced in the district particularly in the west.

2.5 Ethnicity and Religion

The district has two major tribes, the Dagaaba and the Sissalas. The Dagaaba constitute 96% of the total population and the Sissala represent 4%. The Sissala are confined only to the southeastern parts of the district.

There are three religious groups in the district viz Christians (59%) Moslems (18%) and African Traditional Religion (23%).The Catholics dominate the Christian population. In spite of this heterogeneous religious composition, there is religious tolerance, harmony and peaceful co-existence among the people in the district. This is a major pre requisite for development not only in the district but also other parts of the northern regions.

3.0 Agriculture

Agriculture is the mainstay of the people in the district employing about 85% of the population. Food crop production in this sector largely remains subsistence with low output levels. The main activities practiced include food and cash crop production as well as animal rearing.

3.1.0 Crop Production

The major food crops grown in the district are maize, sorghum (guinea corn), groundnuts Yam, Millet, cowpea and soybean. Cash crops cultivated include groundnuts, cotton, cowpea, soybeans, cassava, tiger nuts and pepper. The cultivation of cash crops has not received much attention as a result of market uncertainties. Economic trees like shea, dawadawa, and baobab which constitute a major source of income particularly for women, are still wild and prone to destruction by annual bushfires. Vegetable production has gained grounds during 2009 and 2010 cropping year in the district with 40 hectres of land put under production.

3.1. 1 Yield

The table below illustrates production trends during the period.

Table: Trend in Major Crops Production

Maize Millet Sorghum Yam Grd’nuts Cowpea
Hec. Mt Hec. Mt Hec. Mt Hec. Mt Hec. Mt Hec. Mt
2005 9510 17188 16173 12938 23827 21444 4700 47000 28007 28605 18481 15579
2006 9040 16270 15890 11120 24390 21950 5270 58650 31670 47500 23350 16350
2007 9551 12500 14213 10120 24490 22546 5189 54050 33101 44170 23547 15820
2008 9560 16821 14110 11200 24428 23019 5154 53110 33340 41881 20811 15079
2009 14,340 17,925 9,877 4,939 17,099 17099 1,031 20,620 21,671 13,003 16,649 8,325
2010 31,548 31,548 8,889 4,445 18,809 19,01 1,114 22,270 22,755 13,653 17714 9,158

Source: District Agricultural Development Unit, Nadowli, 2010.

Between the periods 2009-2010, the acreage under cultivation for maize increased by 69% with a general reduction in other crops area and yield due to the block farm concept that was introduced in 2008 cropping year with sorghum in the district.

A critical look at the output levels reveals that the district has a great potential in crop farming particularly for maize.


One major problem facing the farmers in the district is that of storage. Currently the post-harvest losses of farm produce stand at 30%. For this reason, farmers are forced to dispose of all that they produce in return for low prices especially during periods of bumper harvest.

In the Nadowli District, some of the perishable crops grown are yam, cowpea and vegetables like tomato, okro and green leaves. These produce are sold immediately after harvest.


Marketing of farm produce is one of the major problems facing farmers in the district. Farmers in most rural areas are compelled to sell their produce at farm-gate prices because of the lack of access to market centres and /or inaccessible farms. In the rainy season, villages like Kamahegu and Selee are completely cut off from any market centre due to immotorable roads. The construction and rehabilitation of feeder roads in the district should therefore be given a paramount concern in order to expose the farming communities to market incentives.


About 75% of farmers rely on traditional methods of farming using simple tools such as cutlasses and hoes and are highly dependent on rainfall for crop production. Only about 25% of the farmers rely on intermediate technology using tractor services, animal drawn implements and irrigation. Due to the predominance of traditional methods of farming it has resulted in the depletion of soil nutrients and consequently low yields which is responsible for the low incomes and hence low standards of living, and food insecurity in the district.

The need to promote the use of improved methods of farming and the adoption of improved seeds should therefore not be over looked.

3.1.5 Cropping Systems

Agriculture in the district is mainly mixed farming based on bush fallowing and compound farming. Majority of the farmers (97%), mainly subsistence farmers practiced mixed cropping, 25% practiced mono cropping and 30% plant with fertilizer and improved seeds.

Bush fallowing is practiced on a large scale as a method of replenishing soil fertility. With the increasing demand of land for farming, the large tract of land required for such a practice cannot be obtained in the foreseeable future. This implies that the need to promote agro-forestry, crop rotation, the use of manure and other appropriate systems of farming for quick replenishment of soil fertility is essential. The use of mucuna, green maturing and zero tillage could also be introduced to farmers to improve and sustain soil fertility.


The livestock sub sector over the year has played an important role in the provision of reliable sources of protein as well as income to both males and females even though production is at the subsistence level. The vast grazing lands in the district provide the potential for most households in livestock production. The main animals they reared by most households include cattle, sheep, goats, pigs and poultry as indicated in table 7 below.

Table: Livestock Census figures 2008 – 2010

2008 4,157 8,217 8,935 9,871 18,015
2009 5,357 9,457 9,943 9,967 22,234
2010 5,987 9, 909 10,009 10,087 43,987

Source: District Agricultural Development Unit, Nadowli 2010

The table above reveals, sheep and goats are the most important ruminant owned by farmers in the district. Comparing outputs in 2008 and 2010 the production of sheep and cattle increased by 30% and 16.5 % respectively. Production of goats and pigs also saw increases of 10.7% and 2.1% respectively within the same period. Poultry has an increment of 49% between 2008 and 2010.

3.2.1 Problems and Potentials of Livestock Production

The quality of animals (indigenous breeds) kept in the district in terms of size, weight and other physical features leaves much to be desired. This is due to problems such as inadequate improved breeds and improper animal husbandry practices. Most of the livestock farmers do not have access to Veterinary Service thereby increasing the incidence of diseases among farm animals.

These problems notwithstanding, the district has a great potential in livestock production. These potentials include the availability of grazing land, dams, dugouts and by-products from the crop farming that can be used as feed for the farm animals.


Agricultural Service Units such as the Agriculture Extension Service and the Veterinary Services Units play a major role in improving agricultural production.

To ensure their effective operation, the district has been delineated into 22 operational areas. Currently there are 7 extension officers in the district giving an extension officer /farmer ratio of 1:5,633 which is high compared with the acceptable ratio of 1:400. This indicates that the district has a serious problem as far as the number of extension officers is concerned. Thus, measures should be put in place to ensure that the current ratio is brought to an appreciable level. The problem is further aggravated by the inadequacy of logistics for the extension officers to perform efficiently.

A survey of the Extension Service Unit reveals that, the unit faces a number of problems, which have inhibited its ability to reach farmers effectively. These include

  • Poor condition of roads leading to some farming communities.
  • Inadequate means of transport
  • Delays in the payment of allowance.
  • Extensive coverage areas for field officers
  • High extension officer farmer ratio

– Inadequate motivation for

3.4 Sources of Finance

The small-scale farmers in the district mobilize their initial working capital from their own savings. Other sources include relatives, friends, and moneylenders. These sources give them only small capital to start with, which limits their ability to expand their businesses.

4.0 Fertilizer Subsidy programme

Table: Fertilizer Subsidy programme

5.0 Special Projects/Programmes

Table: Projects and their Achievements



Start- and -End- Time





Cashew Development Project

2003 to 2010

To promote the production and marketing of cashew in the district.

-About 102 farms established with about 1000 acres of occupied giving about 40,000 trees.

-Technologies such as Canopy Substitution, Grafting, Pest control, Thinning and pruning etc. disseminated.

-Credit support to farmers and

– Harvesting, Processing and Marketing of cashew

-Use of Improved seed

Ended in 2010




Improving soil fertility through legume-inoculant technology

-1st demonstration completed successfully.

In progress




Integrated soil fertility management geared towards increase crop production 1st demonstration completed in 2010

In progress


Upper West Integrated Agricultural Development-JICA


Enhance agricultural productivity through vegetable production and animal rearing by using indigenous technologies

-promotion of indigenous breeds of animal production. E.g Rabbits, Guinea fowls, Ashanti black

-Women capacity Building e.g soap marking and shea butter processing

-Training on organic fertilizer (compost) utilization in vegetable production

Ended in 2010


West African Agricultural Productivity Project


To improve integrated nutrient management for yam production in Northern Ghana

-First year trials successfully executed. (2010)

In progress




To integrate mucuna in the farming systems for crop and livestock production

–mucuna maize intecropped in 2010 1st trial in Nadowli District

In progress


  • Non-Governmental Organizations and Community Based Organizations

There are about 21 Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and 52 Community Based Organisations (CBOs) working in the areas of socio-economic and environmental development and contributing in diverse ways the development of the district. These organizations contribute immensely in policy formulation, implementation and monitoring the outputs as well as evaluating the outcomes of the development interventions. Table 12 below indicates the category of NGOs and their operational areas in the district.

Table: NGOs and their Respective Activities

1 World Vision International Provision of micro credit facilities to farmer groups/women groups, Disable people, Education, Micro credit, Health, HIV/AIDS and support to child education.
2 Catholic Relief Services Education and Child nutrition
3 Technoserve Agro processing and grain banks, Micro Enterprise/ production credit
4 Professional Network (Pro Net) Water and Sanitation
5 Action on Disability and Development (ADD) Rehabilitation of disabled and rights protection
6 Suntaa Nuntaa Agro forestry Micro Enterprise and Environment Protection
7 Adventist Relief Agency (ADRA) Agriculture/ Environment
8 Ghana-Canada in Concert Environment and support to women
9 Kaleo Baptist Women Development Project Micro Enterprise HIV/AIDS
10 SOFIDEP Micro Credit
11 Centre for the Development of people (CEDEP) Education, Micro Credit HIV/AIDS
12 Equal Opportunity Fund (EOF) Education
13 European Union (EU) Education, water sanitation market infrastructure
14 African Youth Alliance (AYA) Education, Adolescent reproduction health HIV/AIDS
15 Rural Aid Action Programme Rural Development and HIV/ AIDS
16 Action Aid Ghana Rural community development, Education and Gender development
17 Sustainable Integrated Development Services Centre (SIDSEC) Education, micro credit, HIV/AIDS
18 Muslim Relief Association of Ghana (MURAG) HIV/AIDS
19 Upper West Rural Agro project Agro-processing, micro credit
20 Government Accountability Improve Trust (GAIT) Good Governance Civic Union Activities
21 Rural Evangelical Outreach Programme Food Security and Micro credit

Source: Department of Social Welfare, Nadowli 2005.

6.0 Strength, Opportunities, Weaknesses and Challenges (SWOC)

Table: Potentials, Constraints and Opportunities of the District

Strength Opportunities Weakness Challenges
  • Existence of dams/dug outs and streams to support irrigation farming

  • Vast arable land available

  • Existence of feeder roads

  • Existence of loan schemes in DA and other development partners

  • Abundance of raw materials for establishing processing industries

  • Availability of potential tourist and historic sites

  • Availability of NGO/Donor support

  • DACF support

  • Existence of business advisory organizations

  • Government rural electrification project

  • Govt policy on small scale industrial development

  • Availability of development programmes eg. EU, VIP, SIF CBRDP

  • Socio/Political stability

  • Low levels of income of farmers

  • Dominance of traditional methods of production

  • Poor nature of feeder roads

  • Inadequate market infrastructure

  • Inadequate managerial/entrepreneurial expertise

  • Market uncertainties

  • High cost of inputs and machinery

  • Inadequate supply of energy

  • Unreliable weather

  • Food insecurity

  • High cost of training

Source: DPCU, Nadowli, 2008


The foregoing analysis has revealed several problems militating against the agricultural sub-sector of the district’s economy. These include:

  • Poor storage facilities;
  • Erratic/unreliable rainfall;
  • Inadequate credit facilities;
  • Poor farming technology.
  • Inadequate access to Extension Service;
  • Inadequate irrigation facilities
  • Infertile soils.
  • Poor road network from producing areas to marketing centres.

Contacts Address

DDA 0243412316/0244096638/0392092306/0392091124

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