Most farmers in the Municipality are smallholders and the family is the source of labour in the agricultural production system. Majority of residents, that is 82% derive their livelihoods from agriculture. Crop farming therefore plays a key role in poverty reduction, food security and creation of employment opportunities in the Municipality.
The main food crops produced are cereals (maize, rice, millet and sorghum); legumes (soya bean, cowpea, groundnut and bambara beans) and root crops (sweet potato). These food crops play a great role as food security crops in the Municipality but can even be developed into industrial crops through intensified production and promotion of utilization of their value added products.
There is high potential for horticultural crops production in the Municipality, especially through irrigation. Currently horticultural crops produced are tomato, pepper, onions, cabbage, eggplant, okra, sesame, kenaf, mango etc.). The drought resistant varieties of these crops do well in the county. One of the most important enterprises in this sub-sector is mango production which plays a significant role of increasing household incomes. Cottage industry is therefore crucial in the value chains of horticultural crops.
Livestock is produced in almost every part of the Municipality. Common livestock reared are cattle, sheep, goats, pigs and donkeys. Total production of livestock from 153,252 in 2013 to 138,981 in 2016. The production system is mainly through Zero grazing and semi-zero grazing and it mostly involves West African short horn for cattle, sahelian sheep and goats and local pigs.
The most common used feeding materials are communal pastures, supplementary feeding with vines, straw and other agro bi-products. In most rural households, young bulls are reared for ploughing purposes. The market for beef cattle is not well developed despite the enormous potential that exists the Municipality. Infrastructural development of markets is necessary. There is need to introduce high yielding and drought resistant breeds because livestock production is the main source of livelihood.
Virtually every household in the rural setting rears local chicken. The free range production system with minimal or no feed supplement is the most common. Consequently the productivity is hindered by poor nutrition and high mortality rate especially of chicks and guinea kits. Occasional outbreaks of diseases such as Newcastle and Coccidiosis are a major drawback to increased populations.
Within urban surroundings some new farmers engage in keeping layers and broilers. Total production of local birds increased significantly from 30,881 in 2013 to 108,086 in 2016. However, there are still inadequate for local consumption and the deficit has to be sourced from outside. Enhanced supply of both local and improved chicks through introduction of incubators coupled with timely disease control is key to unlocking unexploited potential. Collective marketing is necessary to allow farmers post reasonable profit margins.
According to the 2010 Population and Housing Census, 10,044 pigs were reared by 1,213 people in the Municipality. The current pig rearing system involving the free range and semi intensive which hinders realization of optimal returns on the enterprise. Religious inclinations have also been a challenge. The gradual expansion of the local markets requires introduction of more superior breeds coupled with enhanced supplementation for quality products and larger litter size.
Traditionally rabbit farming has been an engagement for young boys. According to the 2010 Population and Housing Census, 631 rabbits were owned by 71 people in the Municipality. The current breeds are not good and there is the need to introduce the exotic breeds to upgrade the local breeds for larger litter size, faster growth and high weights and maturity.
A literacy rate indicates a minimum education level attained. In laymen’s terms, it is defined as the ability to read and write, but from a more theoretical perspective, literacy refers to the successful completion of a minimum of 7 years of formal education. In the Municipality, majority of the people have had no formal education.
According to the 2010 Population and Housing Census, the literacy rate among age eleven and above (11+) for the Municipality is 56.3%, implying that 43.7% falls within the illiteracy rate. Literacy rate is higher for males (54.6%) than females (45.4%). All efforts are being made to improve upon the situation.
Healthcare services: Facilities and personnel
Access to healthcare facilities is directly dependent on the number and spread of facilities within a geographic space. The Municipality has 26 healthcare facilities which includes 1 Hospital, 20 CHPs Compounds, 2 Health Centers, 2 private clinics, and 1 CHAG clinic. There exist Emergency Medical Services (EMS) which provide essential medical care, basic pre-hospital assistance and transport to healthcare facilities for injured individuals.
The Municipality has underequipped facilities, low Doctor/Nurse patient ratios and few operative health facilities. The Doctor to population ratio is 1:63,381 and the Nurse to population ratio is 1:823. This is against the WHO recommended ratio of 1.10,000 for doctors, and 1:1000 for nursing. These figures show that the Municipality health sector has a severe shortage, a scenario which is replicated across the country. The Department of Health Services should develop strategies to reduce the distance to health facilities and recruit more health personnel in order to ensure that its citizens have access to medical facilities.