Agriculture and Food Security
Agriculture remains the mainstay of the people in the district and the largest sector of the economy, providing livelihood for up to 75 percent of the population. The importance of the sector to economic growth and poverty reduction in the district cannot be underestimated. However, results of the recent needs assessment carried out in the district reveal that poverty is pervasive in this sector and food crop farmers are among the poorest in the district.
Moyamba District Council has land resources to contribute to government’s vision of food security. The land resource could be harnessed to produce tons of rice, the staple food and animals.
Crops grown in the district include oil palm; cereals (maize, rice, sorghum and millet) and starch food crops (yam, cassava and cocoyam). In addition to the above, cashew, black pepper, ginger, pineapple and sugarcane are becoming popular farm products in the Southern Region; similarly, agricultural production by farmers in the Moyamba District Council is geared towards these crops.
However, despite the abundance of land and water resources, the majority of the farmers have smallholdings of 0.5 to 2 cropped hectares, operating as basic subsistence food production units. This limited size is determined mainly by the limitations of labour availability, the fertility of the rotational slash, burn and fallow land use system, and the reliance on rudimentary manual technology (i.e. the hoe, axe and cutlass);
The percentage of farmers using fertilizers in this sector is very low and a large percentage depends on the market for planting materials. Use of modern planting materials is limited to a small number of households;
Although trends in overall food production in the district indicate that pre-war levels are being achieved, yields are typically low (for upland rice the average is one ton per hectare) and the gap between potential yield of the staple crops (rice in all the ecologies, maize, cassava and sweet potatoes) is still wide;
The farmers themselves are further constrained by absolute shortage of cash income, indebtedness, non-monetary nature of their household economy; and the remoteness and paucity of social and welfare services available to them. A combination of these factors makes them poorer.
The livestock sub-sector remains relatively small and underdeveloped. The recent assessment survey indicates that more than 90 percent of households own chicken almost 14 percent own goats and sheep and less than 3 percent other livestock, including cattle. The sector has potential to supply the country’s requirements for meat and animal protein.
The district plan will provide support with seed inputs, livestock, chemicals, and fertilizers, extension services, processing facilities and support mechanical cultivation.
Attention will be paid to building the capacity and empowering local communities, farmer associations and marketing cooperatives. External resources will also be mobilized, donor activities coordinated, and the general process of agricultural development monitored and evaluated.