The District has a rain fed subsistence agriculture with a bimodal type of rainfall. There is a short unreliable first season rainfall between March and May and a more reliable second season rainfall from July to November. There is an extensive plain in the eastern part of the district along the Nile belt of about 600 metres above sea level (masl) changing into a raised plateau in Padyere County of about 1,000 masl and then sharply rising to a high altitude of 1,600 masl in Erussi Sub county. The soils are moderately fertile in the plains where it varies from sandy – loamy with plenty of black (cotton) soils to the fertile clay – loamy soils with patches of ferrallites in the high land.
The District is currently faced with the impacts of climate change as can be seen from prolonged dry spells, increased incidence of floods, erratic and unreliable rainfall, and high temperatures.
Due to the diverse variation in the weather, soil types and altitude, three agro – ecological zones namely low land, plateau and highland are found in the district which in turn support production of virtually all tropical crops. The major crops grown range from root crops such as cassava, irish potatoes, sweet potatoes and yams; cereals such as rice, maize, sorghum, and millet; pulses such as beans, pigeon peas and cowpeas; fruit trees such as mangoes, oranges and ovacado; oil seed crops such as sesame, groundnuts, soya beans and sunflower; plantains such as bananas to horticultural crops like tomatoes, cabbages and onions. The two traditional cash crops are Arabica coffee and cotton.
The Crop Farming Systems
The crop farming systems can be divided into three. We have Banana, Arabica Coffee, Beans, Cassava system in the high altitude zone of the district; this zone also has the highest rainfall intensity. The second is Cassava, Maize, Groundnuts, and Rice farming system that is found in the medium altitude zone, also described as a raised plateau. This area receives rainfall of lower intensity than that of the first zone. The third is the Cassava, Simsim, Sorghum, Cowpeas farming system found in the low altitude zone.
The major challenges to crop farming in the district include poor/low yields, use of predominately unimproved seed varieties/planting materials, poor attitude of farmers towards recommended farming practices, inaccessible as well as un available improved seeds varieties /planting materials, erratic rainfall patterns, use of primitive tools such as the hand hoes, lack of market information to farmers and high incidences of notorious weeds (such as Striga hemontheca), pests (such as fruit flies, termites, cassava mites, nematodes and banana weevils) and diseases (like Cassava Brown Streak, Banana Bacterial Wilt, Rosette and Cassava mosaic and Blights). There are also increased rates of soils and water erosion leading to low soils fertility. All the above is summarized by subsistence agriculture.